Tuesday, January 26, 2010

365 Lessons-Lesson 26: Let Go of Fear

I must be in sync with some of my other blogger friends because they have also touched on this subject. It's a big one, so it's worth addressing again and again. Right now my Facebook status update reads, "What are you afraid of?" I'm sure some of my friends had an idea that one of my intentions of asking that question was to gather thoughts for a lesson here. The answers people wrote were: spiders, being a bad person, getting old, losing my loved ones, failure, success and severe pain (success and severe pain were mine and I questioned if those are separate things or if they go together). The list of what we all fear could very possibly be a endless blog post. Everyone fears something.

I have another blog called Writer's Rising. It's a collaborative blog for writers. Recently there have been several new authors added (If you are interested in writing for Writers Rising, leave a comment or send me an e-mail). One new writer named Sai from New Delhi, India (his blog is Waves Upon The Shore) really struck a cord with me about fear. Just as I was about to post this, he also posted on this topic in his introduction. He talked about how he used to be afraid to write because he worried about what others might think of his writing. He would edit his writing so much that nothing was left of himself. He let go of this. The result is beautiful. In his intro on Writers Rising, he talks about a chant he says to himself. It is "Aham Brahamsmi" or "I am the universe." I LOVE this. Basically this means that all the strength of the universe is ours.

It's no easy task to learn to let go of fear. Fear blocks us. It creates a shield and I believe it blocks our ability to realize that we are, in fact, the universe. That there is something beyond what our tiny minds can perceive. There is a greater force at work...call it God, higher consciousness, grace, or whatever you wish.

For me, when I realize that I am just a small dot in a much bigger picture of things, I lose a lot of that fear. In deep meditation, many of the parmeters of "myself" start to disappear. I start to expand. I no longer know where I begin or where I end or if there is even this "I" I speak of. There seems to be just space which encompasses all things within it.

I still have fear. I am not immune to it. I am human. It comes and goes. I still worry what people might think of me or my writing. It is still scary to open myself up. It's risky. Yes, it's a very big risk. But, I'm willing to go there. Why? I have learned so much by diving into this fear of mine. I have met other people, like Sai, who also share this fear. I feel that by opening up, I start to actually let go. I realize that there is not much difference between you and me and what we fear. It may be different things, but it's all the same. It's fear.

Other things I fear or have feared in the past are not having enough money, severe pain, my health, death of a loved one, having a car accident, technology etc. etc. This is all I can think of right now.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

Fear is debilitating. It is restricting. Fear tells us, "Don't do anything because it might be wrong or something might happen." If your intentions are good, how could something be wrong and what could really happen to you anyway? These are all just "coulds". We are saying, "This could happen or that could happen." These are all just thoughts. Nothing has happened yet, has it? If you are fearing a situation that happened in the past, who knows, it might be different this time around.

I have found that the only way to embrace my own fears is to believe that everything will be just fine. That I will be o.k. and so will others. That, as Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The rest are just projections in my own mind of what might happen.

Ultimately, it is the fear of our own death that we are afraid of, isn't it? Of the extinction of ourselves and others. That everything about the lives we are living will terminate at some point in time. What happens after depends on what you believe. Knowing that we have such a limited time for this life, I intend to face as many of my fears as possible and expand and share with as many people as possible. Time is so precious and the time we have in this life is limited. Who has time for fear?


  1. Nice topic! I just finished editing my book last night, and at the beginning of each chapter I added a personal quote I felt relevant to the upcoming chapter. One of the quotes was on fear - I will share it.

    "My biggest fear is not my inability to practice what I preach, but my inability to become aware when I am not doing so."

    Perhaps this pertains to my ability to decipher between things in me that may truly challenge me to remain strong in truly frightening circumstances, or perhaps succumbing to the "labels" I place upon situations to make me feel weaker in their presence.
    Fear - False Evidence Appearing Real!
    Thanks for the thoughts!

  2. I tend to fear most what I have already experienced and have been traumatized by. I fear severe pain and I fear being abandoned and unloved. I've been traumatized by both situations having already occurred in my life and they are hard ones to kick, especially the severe pain one because I still have to deal with different levels of chronic pain with a chronic health condition on a regular basis.
    The love and abandonment fear, well, I can't control others being in my life or loving me but I can control how I experience love in my life, so I strive to BE LOVE.
    I figure if you are love, then love can never be absent from your life.


  3. Hi Tony-I like your quote and am interested in your book. What is the topic? Yes, I do think that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Nothing is real until it happens.

    Aine-Yes,I think most people experience fear of what they have already been traumatized by. We are so conditioned by the past. It's hard to let go and realize that we can have a different experience. I like your idea of Being Love or even loving yourself. When you love yourself, then love is with you wherever you go. I have not experienced chronic pain, but yoga has helped me immensely with any pain I previously had and has also helped me embrace my fears about what I can and can't do with my body.

  4. Thank you, Katherine. This is an amazing lesson!

    It's all so true, and I'm sure many of us can relate to it perfectly. I also wonder if some of our fears are carried forward from experiences in past lives. For instance, when I look at water bodies (oceans, lakes, rivers) in the dark after sunset, I start to panic. I feel like I'm going to get swallowed up by the water and drown. Perhaps I drowned in a past life and it was a painful end.

    I loved how you summarised this ultimate fear - the fear of extinction of ourselves. Your perspective on overcoming these fears is beautiful. It's simple, yet very effective!

    Am so happy you liked the chant. :-) Thank you for sharing it here.
    I'm honored to have found mention in your lesson. :-)

    Love and light,

  5. Hello Sai,
    Yes, we never know what will trigger fear and whether or not it is related so something from the past. You inspired me, that's why I included you in my post. The chant that you shared is beautiful, too. Much peace to you, Kathy

  6. One thing I learned about fear is that it is a feeling, hence fleeting. Fear can turn into exhilaration, as sadness can be overcome by happiness. Or the other way around - depending on how we deal with it.

    I used to have stage fright (I occasionally still have it). But God called me to be a teacher, and eventually those butterflies turned to butter. Sometimes I still feel petrified before an audience but I'm better now at tapping into my adrenalin and turning that fear into exhilaration.

  7. Really good, Kathy. Now, to really let go....

  8. I fear living fearlessly, because if I did...I would be truly free, and freedom is scary.