For many years now, I have been interested in the way our mind works; in particular how fear influences our daily decisions. Although we may rarely pay attention to fear on a day to day basis, it actually determines our personality and how we enjoy our lives. You might disagree, and suggest that fear is only a small part of your personality. But think about the many times each day when you respond (fearfully, angrily or disdainfully) because of a story on the news, of when you make a decision on disliking someone because of the way they look or feel to you. Think of how many times you get angry, frustrated, jealous or cruel or when you get worried about your health or weight. Then compare that to the times in your day when you feel absolutely calm, at peace, kind, generous and open. Which emotion wins out for you? The first set or the second? If you chose the first, then you are in a large part of the majority. If you can truthfully recognise yourself as being part of the second group, then congratulations, you have a foothold over much of the population.
So if fear is the predominant factor in our decision making process, then how can we change things so that this is no longer the case? And how do we determine what needs to be changed? For example, at some point each day you might find yourself worrying about not having enough money. You might reasonably think that this is because you are afraid of living a life without the comforts you see everyone else around you having. And that’s probably an accurate assumption. But on a deeper level there may be other less tangible issues going on in your head that cause you to have such fears – such as a fear of being confined or stifled by your circumstances or a fear of being nothing.
Of course, we’ve probably already heard people state that we make determinations based on what happened to us in our childhood. But did you know that many of our responses are also because of inbuilt or rather what I like to call “root fears,” that suggest our responses dependent on the situation. Some of these are genetically driven fears that are brought through successive generation, the obvious example being “fight or flight”. But there are other “root fears,” the kingly fears that sit above and influence all others, which if understood and released could fundamentally change the way we enjoy our lives.
It is almost certain that all of us have particular life lessons that must be experienced and overcome if we are to truly feel accomplished at the end of our time on this earth. Most of these life lessons are learnt by overcoming particular root fears. For example, the second fear on my list below is the fear of ending. You might have a fear of how your friends will react to you, a fear of not being liked, a fear of not being loved, a fear of not winning etc. All of these fears are bound into the fear of ending. Certainly there is some crossover. For example you might have a fear of not being loved which falls under the root fears of having nothing and under the fear of ending. But let’s take a look at them individually. If you can overcome the root fears, then the “branch fears” (fear of not being loved etc.) will play a much lesser role in your lives and be easier to understand, identify and release. The following are by no means a conclusive list. Maybe you can think of some others along the way.
- Fear for your safety and survival
This is the root fear of survival. Even if we are not conscious of it, we all want to feel safe and secure and if something were to happen that made us feel less so, we experience a sense of fear and perhaps one of powerlessness. We might have a secure family, perhaps a nice home in a good neighbourhood. But what would happen if this were to change? What would happen if you made a mistake and your community or family suddenly turned against you? Would you feel fear if your family suddenly died or you lost your job and you were left alone with little or no money? Would you feel afraid if you were forced to live on the streets? Or if you were suddenly given a certain amount of time left to live because of a health issue? There are countless scenarios that play out under the guise of a fear of safety. In fact, I would hazard a guess and say that this fear is probably the root of all root fears.
- Fear of ending
Every day people die. Some do it gently and with a sigh, others fight it, afraid of what might be on the ‘other side’. But death is a constant reminder and some of us fear it beyond all other fears. More of us however, feel a fear of ending. What happens when a relationship ends? What happens when our loved one leaves us through death or otherwise? What about the fear of losing friends through an argument or losing a job with no other job to go to? What happens if you feel like everything you do and every word you speak is being scrutinised? How do other people respond to you? Are you afraid of what happens when you say the wrong thing and people get angry? The fear of ending can be a difficult one to overcome.
- Fear of being confined / held back / stifled
How many of you have had that dream where you suddenly feel yourself held down against your will? It’s actually quite a common occurrence; some even call it the ‘Old Hag Syndrome’ where an old woman forces you down on the bed and renders you immobile. Obviously whether or not this is some sort of ‘evil spirit’ is open to conjecture, but what is important is the fear that you experience. It’s ironic that the popularity of vampire novels and movies in the last few years actually (though not obviously so), had the effect of creating mass fear especially in the younger generation. How? It exaggerated the fear of being held down. More people perhaps only subconsciously began to fear being powerless, having energy taken from them or losing control. Another example is being raised with overbearing parents who want us to be safe and in the process hold us back from having any sort of growth. We begin to feel stifled and unable to achieve. Maybe we are in a relationship where the other person is jealous of our every move. You may feel a sense of anger and unfairness.
- Fear of having nothing / being nothing / feeling nothing
This is undoubtedly one of the most important of the root fears. Lack of abundance ties into this fear, feelings of self-worth and not being worthy, fear of not being happy, fear of not being loved, fear of losing fear (oh yes, there is a fear like that!), fear of enlightenment, fear of realised people (though we might adore them, we still feel a certain sense of fear and awe at what goes on in their mind – if anything – ie who know’s what??!), fear of loss. Are you scared that you aren’t loved because of who you are, the size of your waist or the depth of your pockets and that people will see you as being nothing or of no importance?
- Fear of being evil, rotten, bad…
Every time we criticise ourselves, every time we do something that hurts someone else, when we feel guilt or shame, these are all fears that are based on the belief that we are evil or rotten or bad. For example, say as a child your mother criticised you when you made a mistake by saying that she was disgusted or ashamed of you. How do you think this makes you feel at a root level of your psyche? It would probably instil in you a sense that you were rotten or bad so that you feel shame and fear for the words you speak just in case they cause other people offense.
- Fear of being in pain
We might climb into a car and fear the consequences of the drive, we might go to the dentist and fear the grinding of the drill, we might fear going home to an abusive spouse or parent, we might fear the words of ‘cancer’ or ‘heart attack’ or ‘disease’. Even the suggestion of experiencing pain can lead us into paroxysms of emotion. This is a tough root fear to overcome because what mind can really think clearly when experiencing great pain? It ties into the fear of death and whether the experience of pain will ultimately lead to your demise.
- Fear of causing pain
We want to break up with a partner, but we fear how they will feel. We want to push our child on the swing but we fear that we might injure them. We really want to speak our truth but are afraid of how it may make other people feel. We want to show our strength but are afraid of how it will make others feel. We want to leave the shelter of our home to go out into the big wide world but we are afraid of making our parents sad or resentful.
- Fear of our power!
Gasp! Yep, you heard it right. Most of us are terrified of the power we have inside. We absolutely can change most anything. Some of the wisest amongst us would say we CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING. We see opportunities and immediately want to be smaller, we see the chance of a relationship and fear the consequence of the possibility of love. We have courage and then we falter because of misguided past beliefs. Sadly, most of us will never stop fearing our power!
Resolving one or two root fears in our lifetimes is cause for celebration. Resolving all of them is…well it pretty well comes close to Enlightenment.
You’ll notice I haven’t really used that word up until now. Truth be told, the word itself has been so overused in the last couple of decades that most people have ceased to recognise it for what it is. Enlightenment is being fearless. Enlightenment is being without the ego mind, being without fear. Of course when I say fear, I also mean anger and guilt and shame and greed plus all the other nitty gritty negative emotions.
Initially, when you start letting go of fear and the school of emotions that trail beneath it (by using EFT or other methods), things don’t seem to change very much. Sure, you might see less of certain types of people and experiences, but for a while there, you don’t see much in the way of difference.
However, when you start getting into a rhythm, you suddenly find yourself stopping mid stride, thinking to yourself ‘wow! I don’t feel that way anymore!’ or ‘I feel calm about that now’. It’s intoxicating to discover space in your mind where there was once an insurmountable pressure or burden.
Further on, you start to experience the peace that has eluded us since childhood. Remember (back then) when you could sit for hours and just play? When we were kids, certainly we had issues and sure, we had fear, but they seemed less severe and the power that fear held over us seemed inconsequential when you compare it to how you feel now. It is because then more than now, we were closer to our True Selves. We had less “stuff” floating in our minds to make us unhappy.
When we start to let go of fear, those clouds begin to disperse. Eventually there is nothing left in our minds but wide open space and blue sky. Then follows what some of you may have heard as being called the ‘Peace that passeth understanding’. This peace comes on slowly, but the more you take away, the stiller your mind becomes. It follows that when everything is taken away, the stillness prevails above all else, and calmness fills your very being.
Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention that these states of calmness are more enhanced by meditation and other techniques such as self-enquiry. A lack of negativity naturally allows for greater mental strength and in turn peace and positivity.
At this point in our conversation, some of you might be starting to feel a bit squeamish. The thought of being thoughtless is terrifying to your ego because it also means the end of its reign of power (aka terror!). It’s true that the early years of work are a not so subtle battle between your Self and your ego and even later on, your lower self will always find ways of directing you back to the ‘good ol’ days’ where it’s power was resolute. Rest assured though, there are a bunch of holy men and enlightened people down the ages who have clearly stated that being without thought is not what you think…Err, well you know what I’m getting at here…
As you get closer to your goal, you will discover that you function better than before, freeing all of the distractions that plagued you in the past; the ones that turned you away from your goals, the ones that caused you doubt and uncertainty. With a quieter mind, you start to flow in the boundless options that are available to you. You climb into a path – imagine it like climbing into a bobsled – and go shooting down the hill, always ending up in the right place at exactly the right time. And the beauty is that you don’t feel like you’ve needed to use any effort by the time you arrive. It is, as such, effortless. And it is all absolutely within your grasp!
But, enlightenment is not for everyone. In fact, very few will make the decision to strive for that in their lifetime. That doesn’t matter! Even if you do just one thing, let go of one fear or negative emotion; any work that you do to lessen the extent of your emotional pain is perhaps the greatest gift you can give yourself in your lifetime.
I welcome your comments or thoughts below.