All you have to do these days is open up a newspaper or news app and it hits you. Fear. There is so much to be concerned about in our world right now. The climate crisis, global viral epidemics, war and suffering across the globe. Some things are far away, but more are coming closer to home. This news can compound any anxiety that we might be already feeling in our daily lives. The vice tightens and our sights narrow. We search for a feeling of control.
When fear hits us, it can feel like the only reality available. This can make us lose sight if the fear is valid or not. Fear has a dog-pile effect once it starts running and leave us with the feeling like we don’t have a lot of options. Often our choices land in the following categories: Lash out, lock up or shut down.
In our foundational course of Level 1, we look at fear as a primal function. There is nothing wrong with fear, in fact it’s a very important ally. Fear is designed to let us know if our life is in danger. In Gavin de Becker’s classic book The Gift of Fear, he takes readers through the steps of identifying appropriate fear signals and learning to follow them, so we can avoid violent or threatening circumstances.
Fundamentally, we are still primal creatures. Fear is designed to help us run away from the hungry tiger, not pay our taxes! Fear is for life and death situations and otherwise, can be a hinderance to our mental and physical health.
So what is the alternative?
Many motivational memes on social media will tell us, “Love conquers Fear”, but what does that mean? When we are in the grip of anxiety, love can seem like a lofty concept or even an indulgence. Love is sometimes perceived as what makes us mushy and soft, that we lose our ‘edge’ when allowing love in. But I would challenge this by asking: what is the nature of the love you referencing?
In my experience, the Universal Love of our Spiritual connection does not weaken us. Why do you think the first place people often turn to in a time of crisis is to their faith or spiritual community?
The most reliable, rich, wellspring of love is through our Spiritual connection. This is what fills us with the ability to be kind in difficult moments, to be courageous when we doubt ourselves and to trust when we don’t have all the answers. Love is what fuels Courage, which translates literally to “rage of the heart”. Love can be gentle, love can be fierce, love clears our head when we need perspective. Love is often where the answer to our greatest problems lie.
So when the vice of fear starts to tighten, take some deep breaths (which also signals your body that you are safe from any physical danger) and find a way reach for love. This might be a hug from a friend, dancing to some music or sitting down to meditate. Even if there is no choice in the circumstance that is bringing you fear, you always have the choice to reach for love. It won’t make the problem disappear, but it will bring your back to your Power, where the learning and growth begins.
Love is always there for you, despite everything that might seem otherwise, it’s the one thing we all can count on.