by Rob Brookler
It’s all too easy to misinterpret periods of great growth and advancement – in our personal lives and in our world – as dark and difficult times. As times of great fear. And in the face of these fears, we can find ourselves feeling disheartened and “at odds” with our growth.
But, in point of fact, we are never more aligned with our growth – and with our growing strength – than when we come up against our fears. Far from being a discouraging sign, our fears actually show us where we are growing … because as we grow, we will necessarily “push out” against our fears.
In other words, as we move forward in life – or, in these times of accelerated growth, as life moves us forward – we will quite naturally “bump up” against our fears and our old limiting beliefs. We should absolutely expect this. More to the point, we should not be intimidated or dissuaded by this encounter. Indeed, we must understand that these fears rise up not to “catch” us, not to defeat us or plunge us into darkness … but simply because our progress is taking us beyond them.
So this “rise” of our fears is actually a healthy sign and a logical, natural phase in our growth. And it needn’t be a long or difficult one. We get stalled in this phase simply because when these fears do surface, we will tend to “identify” with them rather than releasing them.
Don’t take fear too ‘literally’
So, the first mistake we make with fear – and the reason we can become “stuck” in our fear – is simply misinterpreting it. We give our fear far more meaning and power than it deserves. We understandably but quite incorrectly see the “rise” of our fears as evidence of our weakness – as an invalidation of our ability, of our support, and of our forward movement. We “react” to our fears … as a warning of failure, as a sign that we’re not equipped for what’s ahead.
But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, these fears are not coming to us. We’re moving through them. We “feel” our fears – yes, sometimes very acutely – at any particular moment only because at that moment we’re in the process of pushing them out of the way.
So the last thing we want to do is take these fears too seriously. These heavy, constraining thoughts and feelings are not true signals of limitation or impending difficulty. These fears do come up – and must come up – only because we’re expanding beyond them. We’re outgrowing them.
Let’s look at this mechanism in action.
Why our fears ‘flare up’ when we seem to need them least
Let’s say, for instance, we’re creating a new job or launching a new career. Perhaps we wish to manifest this new job or career, perhaps we need to. In either case, we’re moving forward. As we go about the business of creating this new opportunity, no matter how “positive” we may be and no matter how clear our intention, we should not be surprised that all our doubts and old limiting beliefs in this particular area begin to surface during this time.
In fact, we should expect these very specific fears to flare up. We’ll have moments when we doubt our “value” in our profession or in the workplace. We may begin to question our skills and qualifications. We’ll feel jittery ahead of a job interview. And if we don’t get immediate “results,” these fears may get “louder” … and we may be tempted to see the world as a scary place. All manner of fearful thoughts and notions will be aroused in us.
But we must remember why these fears have awakened. And again, we mustn’t make the mistake of taking these fears literally … of “buying in” to them. Indeed, these limiting beliefs surface not because they’re true, but because they are false. They rise up before us because they stand in the way of our creation, of our true power.
And we are very powerful people in a very powerful time. So when we have a belief that contradicts or limits our power and our stated intention – in this case, our intention to create a new career opportunity – we can absolutely count on that limiting belief being pushed up into our face. This “emergence” of our fear actually shows us that we’re on the right track. And this limiting belief presents itself to us not so that we believe it, but so that we can release it.
“Releasing” fear is a bit of an art, and we’ll discuss in a moment its finer points. But first, let’s look briefly at another kind of expansion that will trigger our fears. Let’s look at that internal pressure or turmoil that many of us are experiencing – and how we can use this better understanding of fear to make this “personal” expansion less difficult.
Our ‘wounded’ beliefs are also in our way …
Indeed, during times of great change, like the present one, it’s not only external factors that push us forward. More subtle, but equally compelling internal forces are driving us towards a greater personal wholeness and fulfillment – emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Simply put, we’re becoming more of who we truly are. And as this greater wholeness awakens within us and grows, it will naturally push out against our “wounded” beliefs. By wounded beliefs we mean those false and limiting beliefs and judgments we form about ourselves (and the world) in response to early traumas or experiences that we interpreted as invalidating or threatening. These beliefs and patterns include harsh self-judgments, shame, feelings of unworthiness or powerlessness, poverty-consciousness, distorted self-image, dependency, perfectionism, etc.
Because these false beliefs – I’m not smart enough, I’m not attractive enough, I’m not safe or powerful in the world, I don’t deserve love – are inconsistent with our true wholeness and the gifts we’re meant to receive and express in our lives, they will be brought to our attention. Because these beliefs and patterns limit us and are not true, as our true power and deeper nature emerge, they will be pushed to the surface.
But like the rise of our fears – wounded beliefs are in fact nothing more than “fears” about our self – these wounded beliefs rise not to darken our life, but because we’re outgrowing them … because we need to see them and release them. These limiting beliefs are like the “husk” around the great and growing seed of our true nature. We will feel these wounded beliefs because we’re breaking free of them.
Needless to say, wounded beliefs are not enjoyable. After all, there’s emotional and psychological “wounding” around them. Confronting them requires a bit of courage (and a large dose of non-judgment). Healing and releasing these wounded places will require a bit of time and work. But we’ll find this work far easier when we appreciate that we are not that “fear” about who we are. We are, in fact, that true, powerful nature – that pure and absolutely whole seed – that is displacing these false notions about our self. Our wounded beliefs have surfaced not because they are true, but because they are not true.
So, while these wounded feelings are uncomfortable, we mustn’t identify with them. We are never our wounding. We are never our fear.
The challenge, of course, is that …
Fear ‘feels’ real
For better or worse, fear engages all our survival instincts. As human beings, our fear-response mechanisms are hard-wired into our bodies and minds. We’re “designed” to be mobilized (or immobilized) by fear. Now, this reflex may serve us quite well when we’re in actual (physical) danger. But when we’re overcoming old fears and facing “dangers” we’re meant to outgrow, this “alarm” response gets in the way.
Indeed, our task is to know the difference between actual and “imagined” dangers even when our minds and emotions do not. So, when we’re moving beyond beliefs that merely “limit” us (rather than protect life and limb), we must be able to see that rising fear more as a “false” alarm.
Now, this doesn’t mean we won’t feel the fear. And it doesn’t mean we won’t feel the old “wounding” underlying that fear or limiting belief. In fact, this is a critical part of the healing/releasing process. So we must by all means acknowledge and honor these “hurt” feelings (anger, sorrow, etc.). But we do not want to identify with these wounded feelings … or the fear that “protects” them. We want to release these.
Don’t fight fear, displace it
Because of the nature of fear, releasing it calls for some finesse. Fear is sticky. Not only does it engage our primal responses, it will also “hook in” to old emotional memories and old wounding, making these “seem” very real and very present. Fear catches and spreads. Consequently, just about anything we “do” with fear will inflame it. This includes fighting and (especially) judging our fear.
So in order to avoid feeding and getting “caught” in our fear, we must work somewhat against our instincts. We must exercise some discipline. As compelling and alarming as fear may feel, we must treat it with a light touch. Rather than engaging with our fear – rather than “reacting” to our fear, judging ourselves for it, or feeling victimized by our “wounded” feelings – we must simply see it and see through it. We don’t want to give the energy of fear any additional form or substance.
In fact, in a very practical sense, fear is not an energy at all. Fear is a “constricting” of our energy. And the distress we feel as fear is nothing more than our strength pushing out against this constriction.
So grappling and engaging with our fear only tightens that constriction. We need instead to relax around that constriction. Fear is something we release. Fear is something we disarm, something we displace with our own knowing: the knowing of our strength, the clarity about who we are.
It’s difficult to underestimate the power of this understanding and approach to our fears. As we begin to see our fears for what they are – as that temporary distress that occasions our expansion, that “marks” our expansion – we will come to see our “challenging” times not with dread, but as a powerful “opportunity” to release our fears. And these challenging times will come to us … not because life is harsh or unfair, but because our path and our spirit desire us so deeply to discover that power, freedom, joy, and wholeness that lies just beyond our fears. [See "Releasing Fear" audio meditation]
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