Fears are like scar tissue. When we encounter an experience (leading to a resultant thought), we have one of two options. We can watch the thought go by and wait for the next one, or we can focus in on it and see where it leads. Most day to day thoughts are the former. But if we experience something that either:
- We have experienced before and suffered for, or
- Is completely out of the ordinary
Then we tend to pay more attention.
If we have experienced it before, we zoom in on it to see how we are affected. If it is something that occurred before and caused us emotion, we tend to re-experience that emotion because we have learnt to react to it in a certain way – whether it’s fear or guilt or shame or joy or happiness.
However, if it is something that is new, we subconsciously look at all of the factors surrounding it, to see if anything about it may cause an emotion. For example, we see someone being abused on the street. This in itself could cause you to feel anger or fear or even indifference. If we have experienced abuse in the past, then we are likely to feel fear or anger. If it is the first time we have ever seen someone being abused, we may actually feel indifferent. I know this sounds like a fairly negative reaction in itself, but if you don’t know any better, then how can you react to it? Think of it this way. You have a child with you who has never been out on the street before and has always felt safe. If the person doing the abusing does not immediately threaten the child, the child will watch without fear and with curiosity. It has nothing to do with morality, it simply does not know any better than to do this – anyone with children will tell you that they are boundlessly curious. So too therefore, we tend to watch in curiosity when experiencing something for the first time.
But what happens next? We see someone being abused and we’ve never seen it before. How we react will very much depend on how much we think about the event. If we dwell on it, our minds will instinctively play with all of our emotions until it finds one that it is happy to go with – one that is more in keeping with the positivity or negativity of the people around us who are also witnessing or taking part in the situation. We all possess the makings of a keen intuition (even if you don’t think you do!) and a desire to learn from our experiences. So if we have never seen something before, we look at how other people are reacting to see how we should react. We dwell on the scenario and of what we have heard. Then we think about it some more and then again some more, until we finally create an emotion towards the situation. Once the emotion has embedded itself in your mind, it will stay stored until another similar situation presents itself. It could either present itself as someone else’s experience again, or, if you have developed a strong enough sense of the emotion (eg a specific fear), then you will create a situation whereby you are directly involved. Now this is really important. You’ve all heard the analogy that you are what you eat. You are also what you think. So, if you have a tendency to feel great fear about a certain situation, then you will naturally draw in that situation. You are what you think. Any significant belief in an emotion / scenario will re-create that emotion until you learn to release it.
But how do you get to the point where you are actually creating the circumstances for yourself to directly experience? It is like cutting yourself and letting it heal and then cutting yourself again. You create an emotion, then you let it heal (generally through time), then you experience the same emotion and you (mentally) cut yourself again. The wound heals and scars over the first time you felt the emotion. But then every time you re-experience a similar event, you re-scar yourself. So that eventually your mind ends up looking like a battleground with wounds that have been scarred over and over again. This is why you tend to think about your greatest fears before all others – your mind is filled with the scar tissue of these events and fears.
So how do we stop ourselves from building these fears and letting them rule our minds? For most of us, we are likely to have already created our life “bundle” of fears. We do much of this in our childhoods. However, we still do experience new things and so we should pay attention to what our mind does in these circumstances. If we start to dwell on the situation (more particularly negative situations), then we should try and redirect our mind to something else. If we can train our minds to circumvent negative emotion by diverting it to positive or other situations, then we will likely feel less stress in our lives.
What do we do with our already created ‘bundle’ of fears? How do we remove the scar tissue? Well importantly, much of the damage is done right at the beginning when we first experience the event. So that is your first port of call when you start to work on releasing fears and emotions. Once you have successfully dealt with this situation, the others (ie the ones you created because of this first emotional experience) will fall quickly.
As for methods of releasing? I have already talked about EFT and YouTapping and Self Enquiry before in other posts so won’t go into them now. I would recommend however that you begin with gaining a basic understanding of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It has had scientifically proven results (go here : http://innersource.net/ep/images/stories/downloads/Acupoint_Stimulation_Research_Review.pdf – Feinstein, D. (2012). Acupoint stimulation in treating psychological disorders: Evidence of efficacy. Review of General Psychology, 16, 364-380. doi:10.1037/a0028602 ). In particular it has had great results on patients with PTSD and other associated mental illnesses). It would be my first method if I was to recommend any. YouTapping is a branch of the EFT tree. And Self Enquiry is for those who are more interested in stilling or at least learning to calm your mind (leading to the spiritual state of Samahdi or enlightenment).
Whichever method you choose, in the long run. All methods lead to the same result – a growing peacefulness and calm that will only make your life better.