by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D
Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org
When I hear people saying that I am “overwhelmed by fear” or “I can’t face the fear,” or “the fear is terrible,” I know they are only making things worse by the manner in which they are perceiving “fear.” They have a perception that there is something called “fear” out there and that that fear is somehow attacking them or burdening them by coming into their lives. Fear is not outside us; fear is inside us. Fear is an emotion we create when we look at the world and begin to tell ourselves stories about what we see. “I won’t be ok,” I’ll never figure this out,” “I’ll lose what I have and not get what I want,” are all messages that create the emotion of fear with in us.
If we can begin to own the fear and understand we are creating it, we can take steps to change what we are doing rather than trying to change something outside us which was never at fault to begin with. We can stop dealing with fear as though it is a commodity and some kind of external entity, and start telling ourselves things like.” I am creating a lot of fear in this situation.” or “When I look at the future, I start to fear what might happen;” we can begin to take more effective control of our emotional state. This does not mean that we can just easily change from “fearing” to creating other emotions like “faithing,” or “being brave” or being courageous with the snap of our fingers, but we can begin the process and decrease the amount of fear we are creating.
Fear is not an irrational emotion. What is often irrational and destructive is the amount of fear we create in situations which are not as threatening as we think they are. There are “healthy fears” and “unhealthy fears.” Trying to determine which is which and then create the appropriate amount of fear is never easy, but always worth it.