“When you learn to smile at your fear, to be with your fear, you become an authentic friend to yourself”
Finding fear’s way to teach us authentic courage.
Myth # 1:
The way to overcome fear is by acting fearless
When people ask, “why are you afraid?” or assure us that, “You don’t have to be afraid,” they aim to be helpful. But invalidating our reason for being fearful, subtly implies that it’s shameful to have feelings of fear. From childhood up, many of us have received these kinds of messages.
That’s why we declare fearlessness, or even sky dive to conquer fear–bypassing the creepy descent into the fearful feelings that are nature’s only fear medicine. Psychologists call it “counter-phobic” to engage in risky behavior, walk down dark alleys, or do other scary things to demonstrate courage.
“We don’t have to put on courage like a tough protective armor,”
Pema told the group. Instead of banishing fear, or making ourselves wrong for feeling fearful–allowing ourselves to go into fear and deeply feel it is the way to become spiritual warriors.
Truth # 1:
The way to overcome fear is to feel fear
Myth # 2:
Safety first: Avoiding fear is the only way to feel safe
Loss of love, health, home, cognizance, money, power, control. Abuse, physical danger, disease, injury, and death. These are some of the things we naturally fear.
In childhood, we skulk away from the playground bully, strange people in cars, fringe neighborhoods, and roller coaster rides. In adulthood, we may try to avoid horror films, foreigners with strange names, the news, contagious germs, bureaucracies, or even airports. Seeking safety at all costs has two obvious pitfalls:
1. We limit our potential when we fail to challenge ourselves to grow–and wind up bland, bored, addicted, and/or stuck–and yes, even overweight or obese as we stuff down our feelings with bland “comfort” foods
2. We project our fear onto outside things or people, dub them terrorists, and give them power to not only scare us but to turn us, our lives, and even our country into a padded prison, (even a cushy one) surrounded by barbed wire, our bombs tossed from a safe distance, as we turn our heads away to deny the harm we do.
If we cannot run towards fear to assert our bravery, if we can’t run away and avoid what makes us fearful, how can we deal with fear?
According to Pema Chodron, we can stand our ground and be with our fear. Just that is the basis of fearlessness.
Truth # 2:
Be with fear
In the retreat, inspired by Smiling at Fear, a newly published book by Chodron’s teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, we practiced checking in with ourselves to experience fear right there and then. Making this a regular practice has had an astonishing effect, exactly as Pema predicted, “When you learn to smile at your fear, to be with your fear, you become an authentic friend to yourself, and thereby develop confidence.”
It’s not that you become confident that you will encounter a germ-free world, access the strongest drugs, possess the smartest bomb, or hold the secret to love, fame and fortune.
The confidence is that you will be there for yourself always, come what may.
Source- Published on November 17, 2009 by Alison Rose Levy in Tribal Intelligence hare
1- Stop & Drop– Suspend the over thinking and drop your attention into the belly as you slowly breath in.
2- Open & Smile– Open up the heart and belly area feeling the sensations, as you allow a slight smile to form on your lips.
3- Rest in it– Invite the fear to arise as you feel sensations of the body breathing in and also the sensations of the fear/anxiety.
- Chose a small fear to begin with.
- Fear has a lower energy level of 100. Love has a higher energy level of 500.
- If the sensations of fear become too strong move your attention back to the safe sensations of posture of the body.