Do You Feel Afraid?
What makes you feel afraid?
Everybody has things they fear. Some are tangible, material things like spiders, snakes, and heights. But the vast majority of what makes us feel afraid are the intangible, immaterial things.
These include intimacy, success, failure, abandonment, wealth, and a vast number of feelings and emotions. Intangibles, maybe, but still impactful on our lives.
The fear reflex in each of us is hardwired. Once upon a time, when humans were hunter/gatherers roaming the countryside, fear told us to run away from larger animals trying to eat us. You would feel afraid when you considered jumping across a seemingly bottomless gorge. Fear is instinctive.
Over time, once we developed certain technologies that largely placed us at the top of the food chain, we stopped fearing such things. We had bows and arrows, and then guns to shoot the animals trying to eat us. We learned how to build bridges over the gorges. Vestiges of these instinctual fears remain, but overall they became unnecessary.
Somehow, we developed more intangible fears. Though based in the original, hardwired fears we still retain, they are mostly emotional fears that have no real base in reality. If you succeed or fail, for example, what actually happens to you as a result is usually far less painful than what we feared would come to pass.
What does that mean? The Alchemist in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist sums it up pretty well: “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.” In each of our hearts, and I’m referring here to the metaphoric center of our emotional being, we feel that sense of dread, doom and gloom that we will suffer if we realize a given fear. But the fear of that suffering is worse than the actual suffering.
Why do we feel afraid?
Fear is a reflex, an instinct that is meant to protect us from harm. When we feel afraid, however, our minds are not very good at distinguishing if a fear is real or imagined. As such, that sense of dread and dis-ease is similar, whether we are faced with something tangible or intangible.
As our society has developed its stratifications over time, those who come to power are generally faced with a choice. Share the power, or hoard the power. Empower the people, or disempower the people. If their mentality is one of abundance, they will probably seek to share and empower others. If their mentality is one of lack and scarcity, however, they will probably seek to take as much as they can for themselves and disempower others.
One of the greatest tools leaders have come to recognize is fear. When they can make us feel afraid, they learn that they can keep us under their control. The Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (or Ep IV — A New Hope, if you must) said, “Fear will keep the local systems in line.” This may be fictional, but how many of our leaders do we watch use this for real?
Look at modern American politics. One of the favorite means of many of our political leaders for getting elected and re-elected is to play on the fears of their constituents. Vote for him and the immigrants will take your job. A vote for her will help the gays influence your children. Support them and you will lose all of your money.
This visceral reaction is something instilled in us all. However, because we have the ability to control how we think and feel, we can overcome fear.
We can choose not to feel afraid.
How do we not feel afraid?
Even though things outside of ourselves will evoke our emotions, we retain the ability to control them. Yes, initially the actions or inactions of another may make you feel angry, sad, frustrated, or what-have-you. But after that initial reaction, you and I have the power to change how we feel.
I know that sometimes this feels like a lie. We’re fed a pretty steady diet of the notion that it is outside influences, be they people, places or things, that make us feel how we feel. But the truth is, each and every one of us, on our own, have feelings. If you feel empowered or disempowered, if you feel afraid or feel courageous, only you can feel it as you do.
As such, you alone can choose how to feel what you feel. So if you feel afraid, how long you hold onto that fear, or how long you allow it to linger, is your call.
We have ways by which we can face down our fear. Some are passive, like meditating on our emotions and working to resolve fear in that way. Some are more active, like directly confronting fear head-on.
No matter what it is that makes us feel afraid, we are capable of overcoming it. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” To me, this means that the notion of fear, and the potential suffering and distress it threatens to cause is more terrifying than the thing that will actually happen.
Finally, as you are reading this, you are safe. Whatever you may feel afraid of is in the abstract, and can cause you no harm. In the here-and-now you can do anything you set your mind to. Consciousness creates reality. Free yourself from fear.
Can you see that you never need to be afraid of anything?
Originally posted a http://titaniumdon.com/