How to work skillfully with the Emotion of Fear
Fear is the desire to run or retreat. And these days all of us can relate to that!
Fear, when left unchecked, or not taken in the proper perspective, can be debilitating and intense. It keeps you stuck and creates suffering.
Remember emotions are ignited by a feeling. (see blog post, “Maintaining a Balanced Emotional Body”)
The emotion of fear is ignited by a feeling of not being safe or something is wrong.
As with all of the emotions, fear when handled well, empowers you.
Fear can activate your awareness, instinct and intuition. When used in proper perspective it’s an inner guide to your best action.
The key is to distinguish between your natural instinctual fear and the fear that is created by your ego…
The innate emotion of fear is an asset in navigating the unknown and uncertainty. Whereas the ego will often exaggerate and distort the situation.
The ego’s fear can be summed up in the popular acronym F.E.A.R False Evidence Appearing Real.
Here’s how to use fear as the asset…
When the feeling of being unsafe, ignites fear, pause and become fully present…
The fear is there for a good reason so don’t ignore it. Your fear impulse is warning you to pay attention.
If it tells you to retreat, then do so—don’t talk yourself out of it by rationalizing the fear away. The rationalization of your internal dialogue may say things like “you’re being silly.”
On the other hand, don’t let the ego distort what is happening and create scenarios that are not based in truth.
Fear can be a difficult emotion to handle when you first start the practice of using it powerfully. At first, it’s not always easy to recognize the difference of your true self signaling you to pay attention or the fear of the ego self.
The Toltec teachings have a tool for learning how to handle fear…it’s called the Warriors Shield.
The Warriors Shield is made up of four components.
- To be wide awake
- Fearful (your natural innate fear)
- Completely self-assured
To be wide awake means, you pay attention and stay on your toes to what is really happening.
Respectful means, being respectful of life—Respecting the challenge, yourself and other people.
To be fearful means allowing your intuition or gut instinct to guide you.
Lastly, being self-assured is believing in yourself.
Here’s an example, used with permission, from one my clients as she used the Warrior’s Shield as she was deciding about a career move.
My client had a job at a large company. She liked the work she did, however, the environment had been changing.
Chaos and pressure was on the rise. She had been working there for a few years and was appreciative of many of the good things about the job.
Changes were happening within upper management. This is when she first noticed her feelings of unease.
At first, she tried to ignore these feelings…her ego did try to distort the situation. It also didn’t help that everyone around her was also feeling uneasy.
It took a great deal of personal power to stay in the pause and not allow her internal dialogue to overwhelm her with irrational fear.
Then out of the blue, a friend mentioned a job to her. She decided to look into it and ended up applying for the job.
There were a series of tests and interviews; It was a long process. A process she made much easier by using the Warrior’s shield. She stayed wide awake at both her current job and the one that she was applying for.
She paid attention to both exploring the new opportunity, and the work she was doing at her current job.
More than once there would be an uneasy feeling. Again, her ego would start chattering about all the reasons she wasn’t safe no matter what she decided to do.
The minute she recognized the voice of her ego, she’d stop and pause and become fully present. She wouldn’t allow her ego’s voice to go on and on to create a fear of something that wasn’t based in reality.
She was offered the new job, and again, she used the Warrior’s Shield to make her decision.
As she accessed her choices she stayed wide-awake while gathering information and paying attention to her intuition. This helped her stay self-assured and keep the internal dialogue of her ego to a minimum.
As a result of looking at the opportunity objectively and listening to her intuition, she chose to take the new job.
Once the decision was made, she immediately felt both relief and inner peace. A validation from her Soul that all was well.
The Warrior’s Shield is a powerful tool to navigate this crazy world and use the powerful feelings we have before emotion takes over.
The next time you feel uncertainty, or you feel uneasy, I would invite you to pause, pick up the Warriors Shield to discover for yourself the positive difference it can make in your life.
NOTE: Please know that this information is not a substitute for mental or emotional health care.
If you are dealing with depression, deep grief, or anger, please enlist the help of a grief counselor, therapist or doctor.
Remember you don’t have to go it alone. We all need to reach out for help from time to time. Having a professional can help you move through what you’re experiencing more easily
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