FACING FEAR

It is not easy to face the reality of our relationship with our significant other. We may waste time shifting blame or try to tell ourseleves things aren't that bad. This is understandable. I know I lied to myself for years before getting honest. Let's talk about what prevents us from getting real...

FEAR

Let's talk about fear. Whatever we fear controls us. Fear, if not confronted, prevents us from truly living. Fear is like a prison.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Powerful words, right? Well, fear is a very powerful emotion. We live in a society that throws fear in our face at every opportunity. Marketers sell to us by playing on our fear. The government uses fear to control us and keep us complacent. Society encourages us to distract ourselves from fear by numbing ourselves with alcohol, drugs or pills. We are so afraid of fear that it paralyzes us.

Our modern culture has conditioned us to avoid pain and seek pleasure and to think only in terms of dualities or complete opposites. Instead of finding a balance, we are led to believe that it has to be either RIGHT OR WRONG, BLACK OR WHITE, FAIR OR UNFAIR, CERTAIN OR UNCERTAIN. And here's the biggest misconception that ruins our entire view of life:

PLEASURE OR PAIN...

Yes, we are CONDITIONED and PROGRAMMED to think we can SEEK PLEASURE AND AVOID PAIN. Everything we do is centered around running from pain and enhancing pleasure. But guess what? Guess what is so fundamentally wrong with this?

And this lesson (besides learning to live in the moment) has changed my life and my attitude towards everything.....

We cannot avoid pain! To think we can is ignorant. Yet many of us spend our lives fooling ourselves to think we can. Suffering is part of the human condition. It is part of life. We lie to ourselves that everything is ok when it’s not. It is this behavior that keeps us stuck and dead inside.

We must accept that with pleasure comes pain and with pain comes pleasure. We must learn to live in the grey and stop trying to force certainty in life where there can be none. The more we deny our reality and lie to ourselves, the deeper we put ourselves in the dark. Unfortunately, this is how many of us learned how to get through the tough times. We have learned to use denial as a coping mechanism. What we fail to realize is that the very method we thought was helping us is really killing us inside.

"God instructs the heart not by ideas, but by pains and contradictions."
~ Jean Pierre De Caussade

When something hurts in life we typically avoid it. We rarely think of it as something we are meant to learn from. In fact, we immediately try to find a way to get rid of the painful feeling and tell ourselves we will be happy when something else we’ve been waiting for happens. For example, we tell ourselves when we move into our new home we’ll be happy or when we meet our soul mate, we will be happy. I lived this way for years, telling myself I’ll be happy when such and such happens. We could spend the rest of our lives telling ourselves this. It is no way to go through life. It is a vicious cycle that never ends.

We run away thinking we can avoid our reality, but what we don’t realize is NOTHING EVER GOES AWAY UNTIL IT HAS TAUGHT US WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW. We can lie to ourselves or run all we want, but the lesson will keep returning in different forms and manifestations until we learn what it is trying to teach us about our reality. The very first noble truth the Buddha points out is that SUFFERING IS INEVITABLE in human beings. It is part of the human condition. We cannot avoid it.

We must accept suffering and open our hearts to look at how weak we are being by trying to avoid it. Only then can we discover that the very thing that terrifies us is in fact a way for us to reconnect with our true self. Facing reality shows you who you are and what is true. Facing our fear and waking up tells us something about ourselves. We must get to know fear, become familiar and intimate with it. It teaches us something. When we stop running and don’t act out, repress or blame, WE ENCOUNTER OUR TRUE SELVES.

Who am I
Who will I become
Can I make a difference
Or will I ever overcome

This fear I have
What is this fear
I can feel it near
But I can’t quite hear

What awaits me
What lies ahead
Am I too afraid
Of a world of dread

I must fight my fear
For it’s the only way
To live a life of
Excitement every day

I wrote this poem as I was graduating college. I know, kind of hokey, but I just recently found it in one of my journals and it made me think. At the time I wrote it, I remember trying desperately to figure out what this fear was that was holding me back. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was exactly, but I felt it very strongly and I didn’t like the way it made me feel.

It has taken some time, but today I realize what is at the core of all my fear and that is this:

FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN...UNCERTAINTY

We do not like uncertainty in life. In fact, many of us dread it. Yet, nothing in life is certain. This is another truth me must accept. I spent years of my life trying to force certainty where there could be none and it only drove me to the edge of my sanity. It wasn’t until I accepted that we’re not supposed to know what’s going to happen next in life that I finally started to truly live.

Life is a journey...an adventure! We must celebrate this and not be afraid of it. Learning to live in the grey means we accept uncertainty in life. Once I finally was able to do this, I started thriving and living life to its fullest.

Whatever arises, we must not judge. We must not avoid. We must not fear. We must use everything that happens to us as a means for WAKING UP. We must reverse our habitual pattern of trying to avoid pain by allowing ourselves to FEEL the moment and understand what it is we are meant to LEARN from it. We must stop looking for alternatives and cheat ourselves of the present moment.

Don’t avoid your personal experience thinking there’s something better out there. We must totally commit to our reality. Only then do we experience the world fully. We must stop thinking we can just run away. Only when we don’t hold back and prepare to escape, do we experience life. Commit to staying in the moment. Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape.

To accept uncertainty and stay with it is the path to true awakening. Sticking with uncertainty and learning not to panic or run is the path to spirituality. Accepting that we cannot control everything and everyone around us is to let go of our ego. Being pre-occupied with our self-image, what others think of our success and failure is like being deaf and blind. We lose sight of what is important and that is our relationship with ourselves.

Embrace the moment and be open to what you are supposed to learn from it. Wake up and allow yourself to experience pain. It’s a fundamental part of life.

We think by protecting ourselves from suffering we are being kind to ourselves. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, by doing this we are only becoming more fearful. This alienates us and hardens us. We disconnect from ourselves without even realizing it. If we shield ourselves from discomfort, we will suffer.

Many people never let their guard down to love another person because they are so afraid of getting hurt. I would rather have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, as they say. Those who live with a guarded heart are not living. They are merely existing and their existence is a sad one.

To avoid pain and seek pleasure will only lead to unhappiness. In order to think we can avoid suffering, we must lie to ourselves about our reality. We either lie to ourselves about our reality or we completely escape from it altogether. Either way, we are not living. We must experience each moment to its fullest. Running away is like preferring death to life.

We must wake up and let go of our ego. We must find a balance between thinking everything has to be defined as either all good or all bad. Black and white thinking is toxic. Learn to live in the grey. Acknowledging that life is messy and never perfect is the first step to waking up and living in the moment. It allows us to discover our innermost essence. We must learn how to allow ourselves to stay in the moment and connect with the richness of it, the rawness of it, the tenderness of it and the pain of it.

When we don’t close off and let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings. Bochichista is a Buddhist term for a noble or awakened heart. In my opinion, this is the only way to live. To me, this is the essence of waking up. To try to avoid pain and suffering is to live a false existence. It is a lie to tell yourself you can avoid pain.

To fend off how we feel only hardens us. We should not be afraid to feel. We should not be ashamed of the love and grief it invokes in us. I’ve said it many times before, but I would rather feel pain and know I’m alive than feel nothing. We must take it all in. Let the pain of the world touch your heart and turn it into compassion for yourself and others.

It is a process. Learning not to run away or lie to ourselves about our reality takes time. Running away is so deep-seated in us. We are conditioned so that the minute things get tough or we even think things are going to get tough, we run. The trick is to avoid running and commit to the moment….to stay there and deal with it. Instead of manipulating the situation or lying to ourselves, we allow ourselves to be with it and understand what we are to learn from it. It starts by learning to love ourselves unconditionally.

Let it Be
The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney)

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be. Yeah
There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Comments

My mind was very cloudy the day you posted it - but I just went over it. Fear has been a very monumental theme in my life... Something I need to work on and conquer.