October 20, 2016

Courage to Embrace Fear

Going down the mountain while reading Osho’s book ‘Sublime Emptiness’, I felt light and happy. Then suddenly I felt restrained, as though someone was kidnapping my thoughts and feelings.

What was occurring was a process of experiential avoidance. During this time in my life, I was becoming more intimate with a person who had become important to me, and my body was sending out ‘danger’ alerts, as if something bad was about to happen.

Who has never been disappointed in relationships, saddened or hurt? We experience anxiety as a sign of imminent danger. The anxiety is not dangerous itself. It is our body reacting to something in the present, as if it were something from the past that we experienced as dangerous or aversive.

Anxiety is a kind of fear. Fear is a reaction to an object that threatens us. However, during an anxious state, the person is not faced with an actual threatening object.

Thus, we would say that someone was “afraid of another disappointment”, even if a disappointment is not certain. And this is different from saying that “I am afraid to get involved” because another disappointment is imminent.

We all bring fear and insecurities into our relationships. We often push our fears away, deny our fear, because we believe that fear is wrong, a sign of weakness.

However, the first step in overcoming our fears is to be willing to face them. Failure to face our fears, escaping painful feelings and unpleasant experiences, limits us. It prevents our learning and expansion of consciousness. Opening up to painful feelings and fear is the only way we have to learn what they have to teach us.

Do not let unpleasant short-term experiences get in the way in pursuing your long-term goal. “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” (Brené Brown, in The gifts of Imperfection).

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