Thought for the Day: Where Does Fear Come From?
You know the situations. You know the feeling.
Oh no! There’s this bad thing that might happen to me and I don’t know how to stop it from happening.
Then the fear hits. It’s like an uncontrollable punch to and tightening of your solar plexus that expands throughout your body.
But have you ever wondered where the fear really comes from?
We usually just blame it on that bad thing that might happen and believe that if it would just go away then we would be free of the fear and life would be at least tolerable again.
But even after that situation has gone, oops there’s the fear again, just around the corner waiting for some other situation to reach out and punch us again. So even though there’s nothing here right now to be afraid of, we are afraid of what might happen next that would trigger the fear. So no matter how good things are in the moment, we live under a state of constant worry about when the fear might happen again.
Yeah us adults get really good at hiding this from ourselves; distracting ourselves from it, pushing through it, or any number of other ways to keep on living with it, but deep down, if we had it our way, the fear would not be here – period.
Does all this sound familiar?
What if we didn’t have to live life with the threat of fear always hanging overhead?
What if it was actually possible for fear to completely dissolve from your experience of living?
Did you ever have the experience of learning something new and having it not quite click yet?
Maybe it was something simple like learning to tie your shoes or ride a bike.
Do you remember that one moment where you made that one distinction that suddenly made everything work and you knew in your core that you would always be able to do it the way you wanted from then on?
You knew from then on that you would never forget how to do it and you would never have to have untied shoes or constantly fall down on your bike or whatever it was.
Can you remember a time like that?
I’d like to suggest that learning to live without fear might be as simple as one of these times. Maybe the final one distinction just hasn’t clicked yet and once it does, you will know in your core that you will never have to live with fear or the threat of fear ever again.
Let’s take a closer look at where fear really comes from.
If we expand the picture and look at everything that is happening in the situation, both outside of our body and inside our body, then we can look at all the pieces that go into the experience of us feeling fear.
We already talked about what’s happening outside our body when we feel fear: some bad thing that might happen to us and we don’t know how to stop it from happening.
Now let’s look at what’s happening inside our body.
If you think back to anytime you’ve experienced fear, you might notice that your brain is always running one simple pattern every time you are feeling fear.
This one pattern is so super simple that your brain has become an expert at doing it and it is the one key element of the situation that actually makes the fear happen.
In fact, without your brain running this pattern, the fear could not exist.
You could be in the exact same situation where you felt uncontrollable fear before and if your brain did not run this simple pattern, the fear would simply not be there. You would not feel it at all.
So what is this pattern?
Check this out.
To create the experience of fear, your brain has to do 3 simple things, otherwise the fear cannot exist.
Your brain has to:
1) Put you in a box (it has to imagine you as too limited to deal with the situation). We’ll call this your brain’s “I Box”.
2) It has to put the situation in a box (it has to imagine the situation as being bad and more powerful than the “I” box). We’ll call this your brain’s “Bad Other Box”.
3) It has to put the end result in a box (it has to imagine the end result will be a diminished “you”). We’ll call this the “Diminished I Box”.
So to create the fear, your brain is doing a stupid simple math problem that is completely imaginary:
“I” Box” + “Bad Other Box” = “Diminished I Box”
In other words, your brain is telling you: “You are too limited to handle this and this situation is bad and more powerful than you and it’s going to make you less of a person.”
Doesn’t this just want to make you say: “Thanks for the support brain!”
It’s no wonder we feel fear with our brain telling us that stuff.
If you simply change the content in any one of the 3 boxes, you would have a different experience other than fear. In fact, when you get over or through a tough situation where you have felt fear, this is exactly how your brain does it.
It either changes it’s “I Box” and tells you “You are able to handle the situation” or it changes the “Bad Other Box” and tells you: “It’s not that bad after all” or it changes the “Diminished Other Box” and tells you: “You’re going to be alright after all”.
Remind you of any of the phrases that parents use for their kids?
But changing the content in these imaginary boxes in your head only works for so long because you are still dealing with imaginary boxes. Nothing about an imaginary box is real. They are simply thought forms in your brain.
You might be able to dodge feeling fear a little easier and “handle” a broader range of situations without falling into feelings of fear through changing what’s in these boxes, but life seams to have a way of helping you discover what is real and what is not. In fact, maybe that’s what fear is for in the first place.
So how can we live without fear and the threat of fear constantly overhead?
Step 1: Anytime we feel fear, notice that it is because our brain is running it’s fear pattern and that this is not reality.
Step 2: Experience ourselves beyond our brain’s “I Box” by simply focusing our attention on how we are feeling right now and notice that we are the energy we are experiencing in that moment.
Step 3: Choose to bring what ever energy we prefer to the next moment knowing that the energy we bring to the situation is the most important element in changing it.