FEAR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND
Everyone has them.
What if I told you that you may subconsciously defend your fears like a loyal person would their best friend? What would you do if you realized that some of those heartaches, failed endeavors and disappointments in life occurred because you possibly treat your fears like a friend? Would you cut him/her off once and for all?
Fears are normal, and there is often a logical explanation as to why they exist in the first place. Things like past traumas and experiences that create an imprint on our subconscious mind can create a fence around the issue and protect it.
When faced with certain scenarios, emotions can arise that are linked to such memories, building on top of our internal fears. What’s tricky is that being aware of WHY our fears exist is necessary in order to move past them, but being hyper-aware of them can also cause us to cling to them for dear life.
Here is what I mean, as an adult I’ve had to stop defending, explaining and coddling my fear of being abandoned by a significant other. I always worried about being cheated on and left heartbroken. This is rooted in my experiences as a kid with my parents, as most things tend to be.
My father was unfaithful and so were most of the men my mother dated. I had a rough first impression of what to expect from love after that. Without realizing it, my mother raised me with the notion that men lie, cheat, hurt you and always come back to do more damage. This pattern or behavior was normalized for me and of course, it later showed up in my adult life. I’ve experienced infidelity a number of times; starting with my first boyfriend at the age of 15 . Each time a man cheated, it fed the part of my brain that housed this fear of abandonment. I realized that the reason I continued to experience pain of that kind is that for so long I lied to myself by defending such betrayals. This internal behavior, in turn, kept the fear active. I couldn’t operate without it.
Humans are evidence-seeking creatures (although what ‘evidence’ really is can go in many ways). We need proof — in our courtrooms, our news, our relationships and even when it comes to our faith in higher beings. How many times have you heard someone discredit the existence of ‘God’ simply because they haven't seen him/her with their two eyes? We use our "stories" as our "evidence" and because the story is true (to us), our human minds defend it and validate it, which can keep us in the proverbial hamster wheel .
Our past experiences aren’t just keeping us trapped figuratively though, suppressed emotions stemming from our greatest fears literally become encased in our bodies.
“The body doesn't forget. The events of our lives leave physiological imprints in our bodies, especially when we experience trauma or situations of extreme stress that cause the body to fight, flee, or freeze in order to cope. In a perfect world, we would be able to release the trauma or soothe the stress response soon after it was triggered. But we don't live in a perfect world, so we're all walking around with physical imprints of past experiences (good and bad) stored in our bodies. Most of us don't know how to release them because we don't even realize they exist.” (Sterling, 2016, para. 3)
These physical imprints born in our past have no hope of dissipating if the fight on behalf of your fears continues.
Here’s another example: let’s talk about the person that fears being financially unstable aka being broke. Their story may be that they grew up in poverty with parents who had to work multiple jobs. This person's father or mother may have often said things like, "life is hard and only the lucky are blessed”. Boom! - Now this person grows up stressing over their bank account, causing them to be in a constant state of anxiety any time a money matter comes up.
Doe Zantamata, the author of, Happiness in Your Life - Book One: Karma, suggests:
"to start, become aware and catch yourself whenever you defend your fears. It's probably a habit set up long ago after some disappointments happened in the past and really hurt. See, when you get your hopes up and then have them dashed, it's almost natural to then want to prevent that hurt from happening again with the protection of low expectations. But pain makes a lousy shield. Low expectations are a constant low pain of feeling trapped in a dull reality." (Zantamata, 2014, para. 7)
If you're like me, and you've been unconsciously defending your open wounds for a long time, overcoming them is not a simple task; it'll take serious effort to truly get to the bottom of it, but the freedom is so worth it. The stories behind your fears matter, and they are essential for your self-development and personal growth but when we use our past as a crutch we may never learn to truly walk.
Healing includes releasing.
I’m sure you've been double-tapping memes about cutting off toxic people and negative energy for 2018, yet your fears get to be a part of your squad? Why is that? Not on our watch!
A technique that has helped me get out of the "fear state" is visualization. For example, if I find myself feeling I might be rejected from my dream job, instead of feeding that thought — I visualize myself getting that “sorry we won’t be moving forward..." email. As difficult as it'll feel to read that note from a hiring manager - this first step is necessary for what’s to follow. Once I actively put myself in that made-up scenario, step two kicks in — I ask myself "Now what? What will I do if I get rejected from this dream job?”. When I imagine the scary scenario and reflect on what my real-time response would be, it doesn't seem so bad anymore, and I am able move on with confidence and sensibility.
What ends up happening is that you change that internal dialogue. Most may find that they already know their plan b: applying to that other position, starting that online business, collaborating with a friend... Whatever the plan, the point is that getting rejected is not the end of your world.
Fear is not your friend from out of town that needs your couch for the weekend. Your mental and emotional real-estate are way too precious to let an un-welcomed guest stay for a lifetime.