Man Looking Over the Hills

Feel the Fear and Give it Containment

Often we identify with the feelings we have and make them so part of our identity that we can’t separate from them.  We say, for example, ‘I am angry,’ or ‘I am fearful,’ instead of, ‘Sometimes I experience anger or fear.’  We shape our thoughts, and receive them from others, but we are not our thoughts and feelings.  We need to take responsibility for every feeling.  They should not be our masters, but be our servants.

We often associate with having fear negatively.  We see it as something that we need to control and get rid of.  But all our feelings, including fear, are important messengers.  Feelings aren’t ‘wrong’ or ‘right’, they are simply telling us what is going on.  Since no two people have the same two feelings – for we each put our lived experience onto our feelings – we will need to listen very well to hear the context of that feeling.  To understand someone we will need to know more of their life story and to read their tone and body language too.  When we are using the same words for a feeling, we may think that we are talking about the same thing, but each of us is speaking an original and unique language – the language of our own experience.

Fear is one of our most fundamental feelings. As the reverse side of anger, we must learn to engage with it in order for it to become our friend and not remain our enemy.  Fear isn’t there to punish us, but to warn us, to help us discern what is safe or not.  However, because it’s not managed, it grows and grows until it distorts our whole lifestyle and we become victims of our own feelings.  If we listen closely to our fear, we can discern what its message is and come to recognize the threat we’re afraid of.  This may be a valid thing, but may also be something we dread which may not be real and may never materialize.  We can also see the extent the feeling plays in our daily living, how much it controls our action and the energy it takes for us to keep it happy.  We come to see, “Oh, that’s how I work!” and to accept our particular stance.

So much of our energy goes into trying to block feelings we struggle with.  We want to push away the uncertainty that threatens us, to counter the waves of fear with a wave going the other way.  The more we push away the feelings we can’t control, the more they increase and affect our whole way of being.  Our minds have created an imaginary picture and if we don’t counter this and let go of the assumption we’ve made, it will become our set belief.  To avoid this, it’s important to dialogue with our feelings. As a puppy needs continued training and care, so a nurtured emotion can mature without ruling our life.

Exercise:

Sit in silence for a few minutes. As you are able to, let your feelings in.  Don’t keep fear at bay (and thereby strengthen it).

As you feel a fear, begin to give it containment.  Speak to your fear and consciously tell it, “I will listen to what you have to say at this specific time, then I’ll put you down.  You can’t dominate my whole life.”

To close, write down each fear on a piece of paper. Place them under a stone on your desk. Then get up and do something else.

As we train and manage our fear, it can become our best friend, our most powerful ally.  Feelings are meant to help us maximize our lives.  No feeling should be entitled to rob us of it.  Don’t let any emotion steal the fleeting moments we all have been given!

What are your thoughts?