FEAR – Get Rid of Fear and Live Well in the Present
Have you ever wondered why you feel fear, why you feel anxiety and cannot get rid of it? The answer may be in your thoughts. As I often remind my patients, our thoughts are the source of our feelings and emotions, and it is from our feelings and emotions that we derive suffering. We are very often attached to our thoughts and the fact that for us they are “right”, we are attached to certain outcomes, or certain way things should be, and when we are disappointed, we tend to find fault in the universe and we tend to have negative and painful emotions, such as anger and fear.
But, what would happen if you changed your thoughts? Well, your emotions would change as well, since they are a product of your thoughts and your attachment to them. We cannot change our feelings, but we can certainly change our thoughts.
When we get afraid of something, and the thoughts of that fear are all consuming, we dwell in the fear. The word “dwell” means to inhabit. When we inhabit the house of fear, that is, we dwell on our fears, we cannot inhabit any other place, we cannot inhabit the house of what is, the house of the present, where our happiness can be found.
When we are fearful, we are not living our lives well in the NOW. Whatever we are afraid of keeps us from enjoying the here and now, it may even keep us from realizing the good that is happening in our present, and so we miss it.
Happiness is our natural state when we aren’t delving into our thoughts. Fear is the kind of thought that causes us to suffer and fear is born from the attachment we have to certain outcomes in life.
Now, fears have the ability to become realities, since whatever we think about tends to be our reality. Our brains cannot distinguish between a real threat (say, a lion in the wilderness) and an imagined threat (say, being abducted by aliens). To our brains is all the same, which means that if you dwell in the house of your fear, then that fear IS your reality, even if it hasn’t come to past. Quite often, our fears never actually come true in our lives, but we spend an inordinate amount of energy and large part of our lives worrying about them, instead of living and enjoying the present and what it has to offer.
Of course, you may be thinking, “but fear is useful too, if we didn’t feel fear of the lion, it would probably eat us!”. And that is true, but once we learn about how dangerous lions are, we will never get too close to one, much less in the savanah. So, when we learn what is dangerous, and learn to avoid it, our thoughts are free to go in a different direction, to take care of other aspects of life. But, when we have a fear, we try to solve it, and that is good, the problem is that we attempt to do that by thinking about our fear over and over again! We are flooded with thoughts of our fear so much so that it becomes our EMOTIONAL reality.
Our thoughts are powerful, and often they are more powerful that the thing we fear itself! By thinking constantly about our fears, we transform them in our reality, we create a self fulfilling profecy.
So, what can we do then to find relief from our constant fears? Dr. Robert Puff suggests the following steps:
1. When your fear arises in you, acknowledge that you have that fear. Make it yours and don’t shy away from it. Accept it and do not judge yourself for having it. Forgive yourself for being afraid. Know that it is natural to feel fear and let yourself be.
2. Think about the scenario that scares you. Is there something you can do to avoid it? Is there something you can do to fix the situation as it stands today? Examine the issue, try to find a solution. Do this efficiently, without dwelling. If there is a solution to your fear, then tackle it with action.
3. If there is no solution to this fear, if there is nothing you can do to make things better or to avoid that which has you scared, then begin to work on accepting what is. Ask yourself, can you live with that? Can you say you will be ok if that were to happen? Ask yourself, how can you adapt to the situation? How can you accept that this is the way things are going to be now and adapt to it? This is where the real work is, in accepting what is and adapting to it.
4. Finally, just live well now, love well now. Focus on what is happening right now, on what you can do right now that will soothe your suffering, what would be fun, pleasurable, noble, enriching, that would quiet your mind.
In the NOW there is no fear, because fear is of the future. Since fears come from our thoughts, once we have done all we can regarding the possibility of our fear coming true, let’s occupy our minds with the NOW, so there will be no room for fear. When our minds are still, there is no fear. Because fears need thoughts as fuel, once we quiet our minds from our intruding thoughts, there will be no fears.