Digging Deep to Overcome Fear
By Paula Jones
The first step in getting in touch with our dark side is identifying our fears. Fears, unless identified and faced, will continue to steer our lives in a direction that avoids the life we have envisioned for ourselves.
WHAT IS THE TRUE FEAR?
It can be easy to identify those situations that we fear. We may be afraid of showing up at a party by ourselves or afraid of dating someone who we feel is out of our league. We may be afraid of changing careers, breaking off a relationship, or having children. However, what is the true fear lurking underneath each one of those scenarios? Why are we afraid of breaking off a relationship? It may be because we have a fear of being alone.
Once identified, we can use our Hoffman tools to rid ourselves of our dark side. A Hoffman graduate reports that she used to have a persistent fear about growing old alone. Using Hoffman tools, she remembered how her grandmother used to regularly express her own fear about growing old alone. The Hoffman graduate realized this was how her pattern had originated and that it was not her own fear. She says, “I laugh at it now, because I know it is not me; it is not my pattern and I do not have to own it anymore.”
Tackling fear puts us on the path of our purpose – and strengthens us along the way. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing that scares you every day. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by experiences in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
IDENTIFY UNCONSCIOUS FEARS
We may unconsciously be avoiding any situation that would put us in contact with our fear, which can make them difficult to identify. For instance, if we have a fear of rejection, we may automatically avoid certain social situations. Perhaps we chalk up our lack of social interaction to having a “bookish” or “introverted” personality. Our behavior may have compensated for our fear for so long that we assume it is part of our personality – instead of recognizing that fear is dictating our behavior.
So, how do we identify our unconscious fears? One way to identify them is to ask what makes us angry. Yes, anger and fear are really the same thing. Let’s assume we are stuck in traffic. We’ve rounded a bend and see the long line of red taillights ahead. In the midst of our anger, we can take advantage of the opportunity to ask ourselves what is scaring us. Perhaps we have a fear of not being in control, or a fear of being trapped. Perhaps we fear the unknown, and if we don’t know what is causing the traffic jam, we don’t know how long we will be sitting there. Maybe we have a fear of abandonment and are afraid that we will be left on the road and no one will provide us with help, if needed. These fears can be overcome, once they are identified!
WHAT IS THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?
If we are already aware of a fear but it seems to persist, digging deeper into the fear by asking, “What is the worst that could happen?” can be a powerful tool.
For instance, if we feel guarded in relationships, we may easily identify our fear of intimacy. However, fear of intimacy can feel like too broad a subject to tackle. It helps to pinpoint some underlying fears at work. We can ask ourselves, “If I let down my guard in a relationship, what is the worst that could happen?” We may then recall the childhood experiences of betrayal from those people who were supposed to be protecting us. If the fear of betrayal is really fueling the fear of intimacy, tackling the betrayal fear first is key. The next time we react by putting up our guard in a relationship, we can ask ourselves if there is any rational evidence that someone has betrayed us. Doing this separates the fear generated from the past from our present reality.
Popular acronyms for F.E.A.R. are “False Evidence Appearing Real” and “Forgetting Everything is All Right”. Each time we do a reality check, we lessen our fear of betrayal. We can continue to dig deeper and ask, “If I am being betrayed, what is the worst that could happen?” This may identify a fear of being alone. We can then look at our lives and ask ourselves, in a world of 7 billion people, would we, in fact, be alone? And so on.
Getting in touch with fear may seem like a daunting exercise, but removing the obstacle of fear from our lives, the feeling of freedom that replaces it and the way in which we are able to move forward in our lives, is priceless.
(Originally published on Hoffman’s Tumblr page)