When we ask our community what they need support with, fear and anxiety continue to be at the top of the list, so I decided to write a little more on this topic. I’ve found that there are many ways to overcome fear. What’s miraculous for one person might not have the same impact on another. In the right scenario it might be life changing to grab someone, look them in the eyes, and yell, “Snap out of it! Life is a miracle! Don’t let your runaway mind eclipse it!” In the wrong scenario, that might lead to the recipient screaming, “Ahhhh! Get your germs off me!”
That’s why I recommend scheduling a tele-session with me – rest assured I will neither grab you nor get germs on you! But seriously, a skilled outsider is often helpful because they can offer perspective and may be able to discern what the core instability is and how best to address it.
That said, almost everyone can do this themselves if they’re willing to take the time, do the work, and be uncomfortable. Actually, even if you’re working with a practitioner, you still have to take the time, do the work, and be uncomfortable if you really want to heal completely. But that work, time, and discomfort are all in service to a higher goal – real freedom and the emergence of your Highest Self as the true driver of this life.
There are two very common pitfalls along the journey of healing from chronic anxiety. The first is temporary comfort – finding ways to feel less anxious without really healing or changing how we relate to life and our mind. This isn’t specifically bad, but it almost inevitably means having relapse after relapse after relapse. The second pitfall is building a tolerance to a state of anxiousness. We get used to it and stop trying to overcome it, even though it degrades our quality of life.
If you feel ongoing anxiousness or fear, I encourage you to settle for nothing less than a lasting change in your fundamental orientation. That is: becoming a peaceful person. I don’t mean a person who never experiences strong emotions – including fear – but one who isn’t dominated by these emotions in a habitual or prolonged way.
A good place to start is by pondering what I said above about taking the time, doing the work, and being willingly uncomfortable. Almost nobody wants to do these things, especially since there used to be a time when you didn’t need to work to simply feel normal. We just want the feeling to go away. But when it keeps coming back, you may start to think, “What is it about my fundamental orientation that allows fear – specifically fear of imagined scenarios – to get a hold of me?” Then you may decide that finding ways to distract or soothe yourself are no longer enough, and so it’s time to get to work.
It’s natural to hope that there’s a way in which some influence – a healer, a dietary supplement, a crystal – will just correct you. If you find it, congratulations! But in the meantime, let’s look at what this time, work, and discomfort entail.
Everyone’s work is unique. Someone could point out to you, “This is how you’re operating and you’re suffering because of it,” but that won’t change anything unless you experience it, you make the connection, and you choose to change course.
It’s work you’re totally capable of doing. You’ve done harder things in life, but because they were more objective – like finishing college or assembling an Ikea nuclear reactor – you had a clearer sense of how far along you were and how much farther you had to go. Unfortunately, the milestones aren’t as clear with working through fear, but they are there, and actively noticing them is an important part of keeping yourself on track and feeling positive. For example, looking back and rating each day or each week as to how peaceful you were, or rating how well you handled a certain situation, will give you something more objective to validate your progress.
I want to point out that I don’t call it “work” because it’s such a long journey to get to peace. The state you yearn for – a state of true stability and inner calm – isn’t far away. It’s so close. It’s right on the other side of the thinnest veil. You are entirely capable of cutting through that veil of fearful thoughts and remembering the truth – that you are bigger than all of this, that what you are is eternal and can never be harmed, that you are one with the Divine, one with Love, and that peace and lightness and clarity are a choice that is always available to you.
The reason I call it work is mostly because you’re coming up against longstanding habits. It takes consistency to undo the way you’ve been thinking, and more importantly, the way you’ve been letting your thoughts steal all your attention and run the show. It’s work to become mindful, and mindfulness is the single most powerful cure for chronic anxiety. It means paying attention in a way you probably haven’t done much since childhood. Paying attention to the truth of what’s here and now rather than paying attention always to your thoughts and letting them take you out of the moment. And sometimes, it takes work to unearth the deeper underpinnings of fear – whether from a trauma, from early childhood, or inherited from generations before you. Again, it’s work you are absolutely capable of doing.
For now, the work I recommend is this:
(1) As often as you remember throughout the day, bring your attention to whatever you’re doing. Not to the goal of what you’re doing, but to what’s happening right now. Stay. In. This. Moment. Notice how it opens and deepens when you give it your full attention.
(2) When fear arises, take every opportunity to be curious about it. Take every opportunity to follow it and engage with it in a non-resistant way. Your job is to stalk it, gain it’s trust, catch it, become the world’s foremost expert on it. Learn where it lives. Learn it’s tricks. Ask it to show itself. Be willing to feel it with your whole being. Always ask for more. When you feel a flutter of it, notice the tendency to avoid it, to distract yourself, or to push it down. Instead, always turn toward it. Always engage it. Always invite it. Always expect it to come back. And always remember you can do this.