Transformative Fear

  “The only thing you have to fear is an elephant in your kitchen.” (Riley Eaton… my 8th grade Civics teacher) Just In Case… Fear protects us, but by nature, it overestimates threat. As such, fear cannot help but to create collateral damage.   Fear is an important evolutionary teacher. If, back in the day, Grog went out of the cave to greet the huge, drooling floofy thing and got eaten by it, it would be wise for Grog’s survivors to fear all huge, drooling floofy things. They might not all eat you, but why take the chance?   Our world today can seem so very far from Grog’s, but have we changed along with it when it comes to fear?   Fear Creates More Damage While an initial fear response can be important information, giving into it instead of examining it doesn’t typically go well. Consider:   People avoid going to the doctor because they are afraid to find out they have a terrible illness. If they do have a terrible illness, it grows unchecked. If they don’t, the underlying stress of that fear literally depletes their DNA strands, making them less resistant to terrible illnesses.   Fear creates more damage.   People are afraid of the skeletons in their family closets. They avoid telling the next generation what they know, and the patterns inevitably repeat.   Fear creates more damage.   People are afraid of cultures and practices that are different from theirs. They isolate themselves, limiting their world view, propagating prejudice against anything unfamiliar. Fear turns to hate that manifests in the way they vote, the way they hire, the way they interact in public spaces.   Fear creates more damage.   Fear’s Cousin, Anger So what’s the antidote? Being fearless can also lead us into all kinds of harm. As in so many things, the extremes (limiting fearfulness and fearlessness,) do not serve us. So what does?   Treating fear the same way I advocate treating anger can be powerfully effective and even healing. Anger is diagnostic: It tells us something needs to change. When we disown anger it’s like pushing a beach ball down under the water. Not only will it surface in spite of your best efforts; It will tend to rage its way up into awareness, shooting itself up out of the water without regard for who it whaps in the process. Noticing anger, listening to its message and finding effective ways to deliver the change point promotes greater health and better relationships.   Transformation What if fear is likewise diagnostic? Imagine this:   Scenario One: A person is afraid of going to the doctor. Instead of ignoring symptoms and doctors, the person notices the fear, centers themselves, reaches out to trusted others for support, makes an appointment and takes a comprehensive list of symptoms to their appointment. The results?
  • Relationships are improved.
  • Stress is reduced.
  • DNA strands are less challenged by fear and for a shorter time.
  • The appointment brings clarity on what the healthiest next steps are.
  Scenario Two: A person notices they are afraid of skeletons in the family closet. The fear helps them figure out who in the family system might be willing or unwilling to change the family story to something healthier. Perhaps they go to therapy and look at how family dynamics have shaped and affected them, in a supportive space with someone who can see things that are harder to see from the inside than the outside. The results:
  • “A grief shared is a grief halved.”
  • The person can now make conscious decisions about their behaviors and life choices.
  • Relationships are made more honest, from a place of clarity and perspective.
  • Generational “curses” are broken, potentially improving family health for generations to come.
  Scenario Three: A person is fearful of cultures and practices that are different from theirs. The person chooses to get curious about their fears, rather than letting them drive assumptions and judgments about people. They do some soul searching, candidly asking themselves why they do things in ways that are different from some other groups of people. The results?
  • The person expands their world view.
  • The person has a much more accurate assessment of what is and is not a threat.
  • The person becomes much more emotionally hospitable, their blood pressure goes down, their overall health improves, and their interactions with others become more fruitful.
  What’s not to love?   What Are You Afraid Of? Take a self-inventory. Are there ways that fear is limiting your life experience and options? What helps you have enough courage to face your fears so that you can make conscious decisions about your situations? Moving from fearfulness to curiosity can transform your life in powerful ways. What’s stopping you? .................................................................................... Is fear keeping you from the life you want? Contact Tiffany today. Let’s stare those thoughts down together.