Fear Factor



We have a dramatic sky on the Mediterranean this morning as the sun peers through the Nimbostratus clouds.  The second brand new day of week eight of 2012.

Did you you notice that today is a palindromic (reads the same when read backwards as in  “A man, a plan, a canal: Panama) date: 21 02 2012.  There won’t be another palindromic date this decade.  Interesting information from a friend this morning on skype!

Day 21 and no coffee.   The monkey mind is beginning to get tired of complaining about not having it.  To-day I made coffee for my morning guests and it was all ok.   No major cravings.  So peace reigns in that part of my being.

One of my guests was a five year old delightfully curious and humorous girl.  She helped to take this morning’s photograph.   As she peered out at the morning sky she asked me:  What would it be like to live in the clouds and so we got talking about the feeling of different kinds of clouds and we looked at them online etc.   Her exploration got me thinking about clouds as a metaphor for our mind-scape’s atmospheres and moods we live through at times:

Are they sticky clouds, which cling onto you as you get ready for your day?
Are they foggy clouds that cause you to struggle to find your way?
Are they dry, white light fluffy clouds that create a sense of comfort, protection and warmth?
Are they wild heavy fast pacing clouds that hurtle you so fast along the way that you don’t know where you are going and why you are doing what you are doing?
Are they dark, heavy polluted clouds that drain your energies?
Are they wispy clouds that create mystery and encourage curiosity and creativity?

We are all so different in our own personal universes of life.  The more aware you are of your clouds the better you are at weathering the storms and enjoying the sunshine.   Like the gardener you stay present to watch over your scape 24/7.   Some days you achieve a lot and others nothing at all or so it seems.   You observe other people’s lives in the living world and in films, soap operas, opera, music, art, literature etc. and we see the seeds they scatter and tend in their mind-scapes with; love, kindness, empathy, fear, compassion, creativity, anger, understanding, awareness, sadness, joy etc.   Some of the stories, emotions, feelings and thoughts resonate with you and your life; we all go through them in some way in our lives.

How did you get on with your fear assessment from yesterday’s list?

Do I know fear?  Yes I do.

Alfred Hitchcock movies in particular used to stimulate my imagination to the extent that I was gripped by fear of the dark, hands grabbing my legs getting into bed and sucking me into some underworld that was even darker than the dark I was afraid of, and outdoor lamps became horrid faces looking at me. These were among the many sensations I had around the age of six or so.   Bedtime became a ritual of sweeping fear objects and people away before I went to bed.   I would stand on the step down into my bedroom I shared with my siblings, and reach in with the brush underneath my bed.  When I knew there was nothing there I would jump onto my bed, then travel over the bed onto a dressing table and onto the other bed in the room, do the same sweeping, then pull the curtains closed before the street light became a very horrible face, which it did if I looked at it for long enough, then back onto the dressing table, reach over and open the wardrobe door and brush inside to be sure there was nothing evil there that would get me, close the door,  put the brush on the floor next to my bed, cover my head and pray to my guardian angel to protect me ‘til morning.   The worse thing that could happen is that I would wake in the night and the dark would send my imagination into overdrive, so I would pray and pray ‘til the light came and I was safe again.  Every time that Alfred Hitchcock and such programs and films came on TV my mother would say “Áinne, bed or you will be climbing the walls.”   My grandmother gave me a prayer to protect me and I used it like a mantra that I kept repeating as I fell asleep.   Fear of that nature dribbled into my life as I grew older until in my late 20’s I got to enjoy the dark by just sitting in it on my own in a forests, by the sea, in the countryside and cities and rationally worked out the sounds and sights that were there.   I also rationally worked out the fix that my grandmother gave me to get through this fear of the dark.   It could have been a teddy bear; it could have been any object that created a security that protected me from the dark.

That’s how I got to know and overcome fear.   I now know the level of it that is healthy to keep me safe in the world and the level of it that is destructive in my life.   Fight or flight are the two reactions to fear, both relevant depending on the situation.   Courage was my answer to fear.   I braved it to stay alone in a forest in the dark throughout a night and walked home all in one piece with my imagination intact and wearing a really big smile.   There is a big difference between fear and anxiety in my experience.   I get anxious about my children, my welfare, my friends, events etc. at times.  The level of anxiety can be as crippling as fear was for me in the past.   However, just as I overcame my fear of the dark in a rational way I now do the same about my anxious times.

In conclusion, let me suggest a way to process these times of fear and anxiety as an adult.  Write and keep on writing.  Put words on a page and more will follow.   The ‘experience-self’ interviews ‘fear’ asking questions like:

Who are you?
Where have you come from?
Why are you here?
What do you want?

Write the answers from fear’s perspective as you feel them in your body and mind.   The experience-self is you in the now of every moment of your life.   Then switch roles and write a dialogue/conversation between the ‘remembering-self’ who is in charge of your archive of memories, and fear.   When you have finished that conversation, ask the ‘possible-self’ what thoughts it has on the writings and see where that conversation takes you.  This only works if you are honest with yourself and get in touch with your thoughts and feelings.   Imagine doing this exercise for another person.  No problem.  Now do it for you in self-love.   Once you have done this exercise (and maybe you need to do it many, many times to get to know your fears and anxieties) you are on track to getting to understand and appreciate who you are.    Most of the time you have the answers and know how to overcome fear and anxiety as it comes up in your life.  When you acknowledge it and do something about it, you feel lighter and more energized.   If you remain crippled by fear or anxiety you are like a garden-scape being crippled by poisonous weeds wrapping themselves around the plants and stealing all their nourishment and daylight,  and you know what that does do your garden: same in your mind-scape.   Your well-being in mind, body and spirit is affected in a very negative way by holding on to fear and anxiety and to do something about it is the journey/process to a healthy and joyful mind, body and spirit.   If the weight of fear and anxiety is too much for you to handle on your own then find the therapist, person, books, programs etc that will work with you to lighten your load and bring sunshine into that part of your life and clear away some of the stickier clouds.  You can bring your writings with you to a therapist as a place to start the process.

Write about the fears and anxieties you are having and see what comes up for you.  They are nothing to be ashamed of.  They are all part of us on this human journey.   Good days, bad days and in between days.   If your car was consistently leaking oil you would do something about it.   Why ignore your mind-scape?   Imagine if you overcame your fears and anxieties or had a way to process them as they arose, how great would that feel?  It takes courage to do that for you, it’s you practicing self-love; the possible self in action with the other selves.

Life can be very beautiful, especially when you keep on wearing your smile……

“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”   H. Jackson Brown Jr.
“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.”   Marilyn Ferguson
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”   Eleanor Roosevelt


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