I read somewhere that the more you love yourself, the less effect fear has on you. In what has seemed like a slow motion, evolution process, taking years, initiated by a suicide attempt and resulting brain injury, I think, I’ve finally moved out of my longstanding, fear-based existence moving forward as boldly as I can manage which usually amounts to taking tip toe, baby steps into the great unknown.
In The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness, Gary Zukav posits that energy leaves the body, through thinking, speaking, and acting, in one of two ways: as fear and doubt or as love and trust. As suggested by the Law of Attraction and other philosophies, when a person exudes fear and doubt, it leads to one occurrence and, when a person emits energy as love and trust, a different experience is created.
According to Zukav, when energy exits as fear and doubt, the result is always painful producing anger, jealousy, grief and vengefulness. Energy released as love and trust produce scenarios yielding gratitude, contentment, and joy. Experiencing painful emotions is always a signal to you that energy is being discharged as fear and doubt.
Fear is produced when your amygdala, a primitive part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response, kicks in doing its job ensuring self-preservation. However, in this day and age, when we are unlikely to encounter a life or death situation, it doesn’t need to be so vigilant. While Mother Nature was kind enough to program the amygdala with certain fears at birth, we pack on many more, learned from the world around us, the people in our lives and our experiences. When we get that foreboding feeling, we need to ask ourselves if it’s warranted or just an instinctual reaction to the unfamiliar and unknown. From your brain’s perspective, to get over a fear, you have to expose yourself to it.
My amygdala has been on high alert most of my life. I’ve calmed it down with mindfulness practices and by consciously doing that which scares the heck out of me. Those around me have heard me say over and over that “I refuse to live a fear based existence.” These days, if I’m scared of something, I’ll usually, eventually, take it on because I know there will be a sense of freedom and growth on the other side.
A while back, I attended a social gathering by myself where I only knew one person well with a few people that I could call acquaintances, but barely. For some, this may be no big deal. If you’re one of these, I’m in awe of you. With a speech impairment, from the brain injury/suicide attempt, and social aversion, showing up solo was hard for me – damn hard! Even before the brain injury, I would’ve gladly rather gone to the dentist.
Upon arriving, I sat in my car not wanting to go inside, asking myself, “Would just making it to the parking lot be good enough?” I already knew the answer. If I didn’t go inside, I’d be severely disappointed in myself. So, pulling on my big girl panties, I took a deep breath and a few more, and, with constant positive self-talk and thought reframing, I braved going inside. While I didn’t stay long, I can’t say that I enjoyed it, and my amygdala was in turbo mode the whole time, I’m glad that I didn’t chicken out.
Because I over ruled my dread, I know that doing something similar will be easier the next time and even easier after that. By confronting and moving through fear, the fear subsides because the amygdala learns not to respond as if life or death and, while the alarmed feeling may never disappear completely, it will lessen.
As my amygdala has settled down, so has my life. Living a fearless life doesn’t mean just recklessly throwing caution to the wind because the two aren’t the same.I have to be very honest with myself to know the difference, sometimes. To consciously choose actions and thoughts that coincide with desired growth and intentions, even if fear inducing, is always an option.
Through these choices, I am deciding who I want to be.
image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/89649959@N00/