Most of us don’t realize that fear is the reason we are not being who we need to be . Many of us would not even know that we have fear. If you are human ( and you are not yet a deeply conscious being) then you have fear and it is affecting you in many ways that you may not understand.It is not addressing this fear that keeps us stuck in illness such as depression and anxiety.
In psychotherapy and Mindfulness classes the commonest cause I see for anxiety or depression is lack of presence. With presence comes (among many other benefits) the ability to see our unhelpful behavior patterns and our suppressed emotion. Underneath unhelpful patterns is usually fear. This is the main reason many humans prefer to stick their head in the sand and keep suffering, rather than face themselves and aim for change. However, far greater peace comes from the willingness to acknowledge with acceptance what is there.We can heal by simply acknowledging and accepting fear, also by honoring all the beautiful things we have to offer the world.
Here are some common patterns that inhibit healing, fear is often underneath them.
- People pleasing; tending to do what others want or expect or what society wants or expects rather than truly listening to our needs. This errodes our inner being and is a huge cause of anxiety/ depression. Reason; fear of disapproval , fear of conflict, fear of not being liked or accepted. Answer; just welcome the fear, allow it to be there and start standing up for who you need to be,small steps are OK. Realize what you have to offer and put it out there.
- Victimhood or blaming; wanting to blame others for our issues rather than taking responsibility. We are entirely responsible for our own happiness. Wanting to blame others keeps us stuck. An example might be someone who has been sacked many times and every time chooses to blame the boss. This person will struggle to heal.Blaming is the reason many relationships fail. Reason; fear of facing the truth of ourselves clinging to defending ego. Answer; be prepared to face your stuff at all times this will set you free and is the way to a happy life.
- Resisting life this is also victimhood. Wanting to blame situations or our lives for our unhappiness. Again this keeps us stuck. Reason; fear of facing our own issues , fear of taking responsibility. Answer; Aim to accept everything that happens in your life as an opportunity. Open up to the learning that every situation provides it is usually around personal growth, embrace it.
- High expectations of ourselves in the world and often hugely judgmental of ourselves if we don’t meet them. This can make us very driven at work or other pursuits with little ability to listen to our bodies and just be.In this unending cycle life passes us by, the precious things going missing.The cycle of harsh self judgment can have more significant effects making us feel so bad about ourselves or so scared of failure that we become incapable of doing much at all. Reason; fear of not being good enough, fear of failure. Answer; just tune in and acknowledge those fears with loving acceptance. Acknowledge them daily and you will start to see you don’t have to be driven by them.All of us will fail and all of us will make mistakes, get used to it they are part of being human. Failure and mistakes are simply a learning opportunity they are never a reason to judge ourselves.From the perception of the ego driven world no human is anywhere near perfect, accept yourself exactly as you are right now with all of the faults included.From a far deeper view point we are all perfect exactly as we are.However we can always continue to grow.
- Avoidance;humans can find many ways to avoid facing themselves. Drinking,smoking, overeating,drugs,gaming,internet,excessive sexual behaviors,shopping,overworking, staying too busy the list is endless.All as a means of avoiding facing our challenging emotions like fear, inadequacy or pain.Also as a means of avoiding facing our unhelpful patterns.Reason; fear of seeing the truth of ourselves. The mind ego prefers to see itself as OK it does not want to acknowledge faults. However we can never move beyond what we don’t acknowledge so avoidance serves only to keep us stuck.Answer;Be willing to face our emotions and our patterns. Not in a judgmental way, just with truth and loving acceptance.Acknowledging any pattern or emotion and having the courage to gently start to work on it is the way to freedom.
- Walling ourselves off from love, not willing to reach out for friendships or for intimate relationships.Another side to this may be hugely oversensitive to any sign of rejection. Reason; fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, fear of abandonment.Answer; acknowledge the fears with acceptance and slowly start to reach out anyway. Take small steps , and know that rejection will only be painful for a short time, just be very pleased with yourself that you reached out. Be prepared to keep asking.We need to be willing to be rejected and still be willing to reach out. The alternative is to stay without love.If its over sensitivity to rejection just see that pattern and the fear of abandonment underneath. The more you acknowledge it with acceptance the more you will move beyond it.Know that you have love to offer and you can allow yourself to receive it.
- Over sensitivity to criticism or to any perceived threat. Resulting in a tendency to become very defensive or attacking in return making the situation much worse. Reason; fear of not being good enough, fear of failure, fear of defeat. Answer; just see those fears with acceptance regularly and notice the unhelpful behavior. Continued acknowledgment of the pattern and fear underneath it will help you move beyond it.
- People carrying; feeling the need to rescue , fix or save others from their emotional distress. Tending to create a constant feeling of overwhelmed/ anxiety.Reason; fear of hurting another person, fear of disapproval Answer; it is not our role to carry the emotional health of another adult human. That is theirs to look after. Listen to your body it will tell you that carrying another is too much, you will develop some discomfort. Look after yourself first, let the other learn from their own issues.In honoring your needs and pulling back you may hurt their ego slightly but you will also be giving them the opportunity to truly heal.
- Wanting to wear the happy bubbly mask or the I’m coping mask, not allowing ourselves to be authentic and not allowing vulnerability. Also a huge contributor to feeling stressed. Reason; fear of disapproval, fear of non acceptance. Answer; acknowledge the fear with acceptance and slowly allow yourself to be more authentic. Welcome vulnerablity ( see post on vulnerability http://livingmindfully.com.au/vulnerability-compared-to-defensiveness/).This will start to make you feel much more comfortable because you will be getting closer to who you really are and are meant to be.People will respect you when you forget trying to please and just be yourself.
- Wanting to control or manipulate others or situations. This is a very quick way to wear ourselves out entirely and to alienate everyone around us. Reason; fear of failure , fear of loss of a relationship, fear of defeat, fear of not being good enough. Answer; just acknowledge the pattern with acceptance and see the fears underneath it. Keep acknowledging and accepting the fears and the pattern as often as you can and both will start to lessen.
- Creating drama recurrently in our lives. The Tibetan monks have a lovely saying; “It’s not such a big deal”. Everything in life is a learning opportunity why do we spend our time creating drama out of it and furthering our own suffering. If we are not looking after ourselves properly in life not honoring our truth, we often will create drama in order to attempt to get attention from others. It may be drama about our health or about any little thing that comes along. Reason; fear of allowing our vulnerability, fear of asking for help, fear of rejection, fear of saying no, fear of truthfully facing our own neediness. Answer; tune in and acknowledge what our body is aching for, take responsibility, ask for help when you need it, don’t take on too much, say no to things, reach out appropriately for support,find a job that’s really you, learn to love yourself.
- Dependency a tendency to depend on others for our happiness or emotional support. Feeling that others should be looking after us not taking responsibility for our own health. Reason; fear of seeing our issues of facing ourselves, fear of taking full responsibility, fear of being alone. Answer; realize that you are responsible for your own emotional health. Even your intimate partner is there to be a lovely companion but not to fix or solve your issues for you. Learn how to love and support yourself, face your issues, be vulnerable ask appropriately for support but accept if it cannot be given, nurture yourself.
It’s amazing how ubiquitous the fear of not being acceptable or not being good enough is.However the minute we are trying to be something for another persons or society’s approval we are giving away our power. Ultimately we need to accept ourselves. We all have it backwards anyway. In any situation we need to aim not to be who others would want or like, instead to be exactly what our deeper being needs us to be.This is the way to become whole.
Fear is at the root of so many of our unhelpful habits. We have to be willing to face our fears with acceptance, then start to focus on the love we have to offer . Every time we acknowledge our fear and the unhelpful pattern it creates we get closer to moving beyond the pattern.We may continue in the pattern for awhile, however if we see it, each time the pattern lessens until eventually we move beyond it. So being present with our internal environment as much as we can is the way to slowly move beyond every unhelpful pattern of behavior.This process will feel uncomfortable because we are letting go of our safety mechanisms. However we just need to feel the fear and do it anyway.