Tune in to the news, read the paper, talk to other people and you can easily find something to worry about or be afraid of. It’s worldwide. It’s the human condition. All humans have stress in their lives and feel afraid at times. Sometimes fear is actually appropriate and necessary in order to keep us safe. A certain amount of good stress is necessary in our lives as it keeps us growing and learning, but a build up of worry and fear is not good for us in any way and yet so many people seem to feed and thrive on a steady diet of fear!
Fear is at the root of chronic stress. Pain is another cause. We fear that we are not enough, that we made a big mistake in our life, that we’re not going to be okay in the future or that we will fall apart if we lose what we have.
The truth is, we are powerful spirits living human lives, we’re capable of much more than we know. No one, at the highest level of understanding is a victim. If that doesn’t ring true to you, read Victor Frankl’s account of his time in the concentration camp or study the lives of great leaders such as Mahatma Ghandi or Nelson Mandela.
In the bigger picture there are no mistakes, only lessons learned that lead to wisdom. And we will always be okay in the future if we pay full attention right here in the present moment, because this is where our future is being created.
How do we learn to deal more effectively with fear? With roving anxiety? With bitterness and regret? We can push it down and many of us do that for years. Yet that’s only a band-aid solution, because it just keeps coming back up.
Here is my 5-step formula for releasing fear and cultivating more love:
1. Identify the fear. Call your anger, upset, bitterness, regret or anxiety by its real name: FEAR
2. Ask yourself why you are afraid. Who or what are you afraid of? And is the fear truly founded on an event? Are you actually in danger in this moment?
3. If you are in actual danger, do something to help yourself, or ask someone for help. Change the situation any way you can. If you’re not in harm’s way, continue asking yourself questions about the stress.
4. Breathe, meditate, pray. Take some time out by yourself.
5. Change your view. Look at the person or situation you are afraid of with new eyes; the eyes of your heart and soul. Practice compassionate understanding. It may be helpful to talk with someone you trust to get an objective outside opinion (witness consciousness). People who are not emotionally invested in our problems often have much clearer vision.
Experiencing even the smallest victory of love over fear gives us strength and nurtures our warrior spirit.
Every time I feel negative emotion and begin to spin my tales of woe, I now recognize it as a call to look deeper. When I look deeper, I always come back to the same answer: Love. It’s stronger than fear. The loving response feels more empowering to me. The eyes of compassion lead to the expanded and healthier heart.
What are you waiting for? Love is always available. Relief is just a perspective shift away.