5 Ways To Live With Fear

Fear gets a lot of attention in the self development world – some of it rather negative.

Fear is one of the reasons that people don’t get what they want in life.

Fear is the most pervasive psychological problem we have today.

I disagree with this! Fear might not be very enjoyable but, as with many things I’m born with, is a wonderful tool! It’s like the lights on the dashboard of the car communicating that something urgently needs attention. When my needs for safety and security are compromised, fear is my internal warning sign.

Imagine having no mechanism to warn of danger. It would be like driving that car with no instrumentation, no headlights and with my eyes closed.

Exciting, yes, but probably a short-lived trip!

Fear becomes a problem when I misunderstand it, misuse it or allow it to hide what’s essential. I believe I need to develop my  personal relationship to fear on my path to inner peace.

Here are 5 traps I can fall into when I don’t effectively use the fear signal on my personal ‘dashboard of life’.

1.   Pull Out The Wires

If I don’t like the warning lights on the dashboard I can disconnect all the wires.

Hey presto! No fear!

If I can numb myself enough, fear won’t register and I can ignore danger. The price I pay is also to numb myself to all the wonderful things life can bring me.

Modern living gives me a whole range of possibilities for unplugging from the experience of living so if this is your chosen way to live with fear, then try some of these for enhanced effect:

  • take drugs – plenty are available legally, many without prescription
  • watch as much TV as possible – preferably soaps, reality TV and mindless game shows
  • get a routine job – the less mental and physical activity the better

2.   Dance In The Disco Lights

Picture a disco with lots of different lights coming from every direction.

Fear comes in many shapes and sizes, from mild nervousness through to paralysis and panic, and all the shades of fear try to grab my attention. These can be confusing and it’s not always easy to distinguish the feelings and read the signals. Some of that fear might be an urgent warning while others are gentle reminders of things needing attention.

Dancing the fear ‘disco lights’ is most likely from trouble differentiating between fear signals or it could be from an addiction to the adrenaline rush of living the life of a disco dancer (‘Saturday Night Fever’, anyone?).

If this is your way to live with fear:

  • live ‘on edge’ 24/7 – you never know when danger will come
  • treat all danger as equal and life threatening – well, it’s best to be safe isn’t it?
  • react immediately to the slightest sign of fear – don’t think, just do it
  • move as fast as possible from one trigger to the next
  • deal with multiple ‘emergencies’ at the same time.

3.  En-light-enment

If I have no attachment to anything at all I have no need of fear – it becomes a useless tool and disappears from my life.

Danger is only relevant if something I’m attached to is threatened in some way. If I’m not attached to anything then threats have no effect on me and I will feel no fear.

Probably.

Things I might typically be attached to:

  • money – fear of losing it or not having it
  • health – fear of getting sick, of disease
  • image – fear of looking stupid or making a fool of myself
  • life – fear of death.

I’ve heard some people define ‘enlightenment’ as the release of all attachment and hence the removal of fear. This can be a very seductive idea and I’ve met a few people who live by this philosophy. It’s hard to have much of a conversation with them as they seem to be floating in the air and there’s little common ground!

If this is the way you choose to live with(out) fear then be prepared to lose:

  • all possessions
  • everyone you know
  • your identification to everything other than your spiritual core
  • life itself.

That’s not to say you will lose these things, but your reaction to doing so is the only sure way I can think of to test whether you have lost attachment or not.

[On a side note: I find this a great way to look at life, but not especially practical for the vast majority of us. I do want to make conscious choices about the attachments I form, accepting fear as a possible price I pay. For example, I am attached to my own life and those I care about – I accept this comes with some fear when those are threatened.]

4.   Seduced By Bright Lights

There are plenty of people out there with an interest in keeping me afraid.

Not least of which are all those working in organisations profiting from my fear. The more afraid they make me, the more they profit – and I’m not talking about some secret mafia!

a.  Insurance

It’s  a dangerous world so insurance seems a very sensible thing to buy. The industry has a vested interest in pointing out all the things that can go wrong – theft, flood, accident, illness, old age. Even acts of God (though if I read the fine print I may find I’m not actually covered for those!).

b.  Banking

My money is clearly not safe so, for a small fee, banks will look after it and protect it. After all banks never fail, do they?

c.   Defence

The companies involved in defence might not sell to me directly, but they need my support to ensure vast budgets (from my taxes) are allocated to them. The more I fear foreign invasion, terrorists and attacks on my precious way of life, the more I’ll support money for soldiers, weapons and expensive trips to foreign lands.

d.   Health

Most of the ‘health’ industry is, in fact, more interested in my sickness than my health. There’s not much profit in me staying fit and well all the time.

e.   Media

Disaster, pain, suffering, violence gets my fear-adrenaline flowing in way that warm, safe stories don’t. It’s addictive and it sells.

f.   Government

Obviously my government passionately wants me to be happy and fulfilled with life. I have to vote for them, though, and an effective political tool is to generate fear – of economic collapse, invasion by foreign armies, cheap foreign labour and subversive ideas.

Ways to get seduced by all these shining lights:

  • buy and read as many different newspapers and magazines as possible – the more sensational the better
  • watch / listen to 24 hour News channels
  • spend as much time as possible around politicians
  • invite an insurance salesperson around for coffee
  • get to know your bank manager (like in  the good old days!).

5.   Blinded By The Light

Ever caught a rabbit in your headlights?

They sit there, unable to move. We tend to think this a very stupid thing but it’s a very valid fear mechanism – I imagine it worked pretty well before the advent of the motor car.

Freezing in the face of fear works if the danger will pass by without bothering me. It can also be as effective as it is for the rabbit going head to head with a fast approaching vehicle!

I have this paralysis response as part of my fear/safety toolkit. I’ve been in tight spots where I was completely unable to do anything. I’ve also been motionless in the face of nervousness around things I really want to do. And sure enough, those great opportunities just fly past withouth paying me any attention!

Here’s a few tips to get in the mood for this approach:

  • list all the exciting things you’d like to do in this lifetime
  • against each item note all the things that could go wrong
  • ge creative, e.g. if it involves flying – write down all the possible ways the plane might crash
  • visualisation – close your eyes and for each disaster scenario imagine you are in the middle of the crisis.

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