“Fear is the mind killer” is a famous quote from the novel Dune. It goes on to say:
“Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Under this viewpoint, fear comes from emotion, and overtakes the brain. In some ways, this is true.
But otherwise, I disagree.
I disagree because fear does not come only from primal instincts, but also directly from the mind. Fear comes very much from over-thinking, and can be battled back with thinking in turn. And with other things.
The worst part, however, is that it does not just hurt our ability to think, but also our ability to love.
Fear is the heart-killer.
Understand that fear prevents you from positive emotions– from loving others, from loving yourself, and from growing through yourself into becoming a more empowered, strong, and positive person.
The type of fear that I am talking about now comprises all fears, but it specifically relates to fears that we have built up in our heads about who we are and how people will receive us. Some of the fears we have are obvious and surficial; others run much deeper.
For example, we might think: “I fear what they will think of me,” “I fear I will be judged for ordering a salad,” “I fear what my abdominal fat makes me look like in the eyes of my friends.” In all of these instances, we are swimming in fears that prevent us from loving not just our abdomens or our salads, but also other parts of us, our whole selves, and and others.
There are even deeper fears that might sit inside us. “I fear no one will love me.” “I fear being left.” “I fear dying alone.” “I fear change.” “I fear transforming myself.” “I fear being overweight, because I am afraid what that means.” “I fear being thin, because I am afraid what that means.” “I fear self-confidence, because it is new.” “I fear having cancer.” “I fear my PCOS.” “I fear being unhealthy.” “I fear progress.” “I fear freedom.”
Just like I have advocated in the past that we need to be the first people to step up and create a loving space in our lives and in the world, I also believe that we need to be the first people to step up and dare to be new, dare to be excellent, dare to be loving and to be loved and to be fearless.
The things we fear may be negative — ie, “I fear being alone,” — but they may also be positive — ie, “I fear being someone others admire.”
In both cases, we are preventing ourselves from growth and from happiness.*
Overcoming such large, deep-seated fears is not easy. But nothing– virtually nothing– is more transformative for our souls. Nothing can transform us more, can make us better at loving, or can make us more positive presences in the world better than chipping away at all of the fears that darken our hearts.
Today’s task is broken up into two parts:
Task 1) Confront your fears.
Sit down on a park bench one day, and dig deep inside yourself. Are you afraid of being alone? Are you afraid you will never be loved? Are you afraid to fall in love? Are you afraid of being trapped? Of dying? Any kind of fear — any kind — will prevent your ability to feel loving. Fear can come from any source, but once it gets it’s claws in your heart, it can infect the whole thing.
Figure out the fears that sit deep within your soul, and do your best to make friends with them. Acknowledge their presence, and ask kindly that they chill from time to time. Accepting fears and their origins in your life are the first steps towards overcoming them. The next might be gradually training yourself to trust and to believe otherwise. But how do you do that? One somewhat simple and definitely effective way is to develop a mantra.
Task 2) Develop a mantra.
One way to chip away at fear is to convince yourself of it’s opposite. Figure out what frightens you the most, and what hinders your life the most, and gently refuse to believe that anymore. That may sound impossible and silly at first– “If I say something over and over again, is that actually going to make me believe it?” Yes, it will. But you have to give it a chance, and you have to do it. Some good mantras include:
“I am in perfect health; I am fearless.”
“I am safe in myself; whatever happens to me, I have the power to react with wisdom.”
“I am more than my worry; I am more than my fear; I am myself.”
“I am strong; I have faith.”
“I trust the universe; I trust myself.”
Say these mantras with inhalations and exhalations. Breathe in: “I am in perfect health.” Breathe out: “I am fearless.”
Have a scheduled time in which you meditate on these ideas. Just five minutes a day– at this regular time can do you wonders. And squeeze in other pieces of time wherever you can. Standing in line at the grocery store, waiting at a red light. “I am fearless; I am fearless; I am fearless.”
Yes, you are.
No one has the power to transform you like yourself. All you’ve gotta do is relax, and trust that you can do it,and do.
And then relax into the glory of a peaceful existence. A peaceful existence off of which fountains of self-love and out-pouring love can spring.
*More on self-sabotage in next week’s hack.
Thanks to my role model Dorothy Ruper as the inspiration for this post.
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