A very common question I get is “How do I become free of fear?”
So today I am going to talk about feelings of panic and fear, or you could call it an energy surge, as that is what it is, a surge of energy. Does this energy surge feel uncomfortable and scary? Yes, is it harmful in any way? No
How I overcame fear was by truly understanding it and getting to know it. If you believe we were created and I think no one can deny that we were. We have a heart that pumps blood around, a stomach that digest’s food, teeth for chewing, a voice box for talking, feet so we can stand up correctly, arms to hold things, ears to hear, well I could go on and on here. It’s pretty apparent we are a damn perfect creation with all our needs met.
One of those needs is the fight or flight response; it is vital for our survival and was put in there for a reason. Otherwise, if someone jumped out at us with the intention of attacking us, we would just stand there and be in far more trouble than if we fought or fled.
The reason the feeling is scary is that it has to be, it’s giving you the option to fight or escape. It also needs to surge energy through you so that it speeds up your heart rate and pumps adrenalin into your system and all the rest of the amazing changes it creates, so you are presented extra strength or extra speed when you need it.
So where am I going with all this? You probably know most of the above anyway. Well, the big realisation I had when I felt fear was that it was a normal bodily reaction, it was never meant to be harmful in any way, our creator would never be that cruel. Yes, it was uncomfortable; but it wasn’t harmful to me.
I realised the energy had to run out: it had to have its limits. I really started to get to know fear and its limits around this time and realised that it wasn’t fear that was the problem; it was my fear of this fear that was. It is the fear of it that created so much avoidance and the cause of me continually trying to suppress it.
Life was never to blame for my fear
It was the fear of fear that stopped me living as I wanted; it was what the refusal to experiencing it that kept all this fear energy trapped inside of me. I always thought I needed to find a way to no longer experience it, to seek out a method for it to go away and then I could be free.
But the truth was that I could never be free unless I released this energy and that could only ever come by allowing myself to feel it.
I also realised the reason my fear came when it was not appropriate was the amount I was carrying around inside me. My body kept trying to release it, but I would not let it. I either avoided or ran away from any triggers or would attempt to suppress the feeling, be it by fighting, running away or distracting myself. I would do anything but allow myself to feel it.
I then realised that I could never overcome fear by avoiding life; freedom also wasn’t going to come through knowledge or planning my life around it. By doing so, my life was getting narrower and narrower, I wasn’t living, but trying to arrange the world so I didn’t feel this fear and that was the big problem, the thing I always missed, if I wasn’t allowing myself to feel it then where would all this fearful energy go? Nowhere, it would stay trapped inside of me.
Where did this nervous energy come from? Me, I was the creator, it was created through constant worry, stress, concern and avoidance. My mind had now also become fearful of life and situations through my past actions of avoidance.
Taking the first steps to freedom from fear
So the first step had to be to no longer avoid and then to allow myself to feel this energy so I could be free of it.
I realised that life was not the cause of my fear at all if this were the case, then everyone would be scared of the same thing. I understood deeply that the outside only triggered what was inside of me !!
Life was actually my teacher here, it was triggering what needed to be felt and released, yet I blamed it for the cause of my fear. Because of this wrong vision, I then avoided the outside, and so my mind became fearful of life, thinking if I was avoiding it, then it must keep me safe and keep triggering the fear response.
I could not believe I had not seen this before. Avoiding life was about the dumbest thing I could do, blaming life was the stupidest conclusion I could have come to as life was actually trying to free what was inside of me.
I saw that my feelings weren’t against me; they just wanted to be free of me as much as I wanted to be free of them. The only way was to go ahead and feel them, not avoid them.
Understanding fear and knowing its limits
I also really started to understand fear as my minds protection system, because I had avoided certain places my mind had honestly thought there was real danger there. Well it wasn’t its fault it came to this conclusion, as I had taught it this, it was only doing its job, what a wonderful creation, always trying to keep me safe.
So the next step was realising that I needed to teach it that I was fine and again that meant no longer avoiding while understanding that the reaction would kick in for a while yet until it learnt that I was OK.
Also, as I allowed myself to feel this reaction, this fear energy would be released, and I would become more free of it. So then any response in the future would be minimal and normal as now it would go back to its natural setting.
Was this easy? I would say it was challenging at times, but a challenge I thrived on deep down. The feeling of fear is uncomfortable, there is no getting away from that, and we don’t like feeling uncomfortable, and hence we take the easy way out and so tend to arrange our life around not feeling it.
I just decided I truly wanted my life back and some uncomfortable feelings were no longer going to stop me. It was also exciting knowing I could do anything no matter how I felt inside, that I could act independently from the fears of my mind and the energy surge and that it was no longer controlling me and what I did.
I honestly knew what process I had to go through to be free and that life was giving me all these excellent opportunities to release all this stored up fear energy that I had refused to feel for so many years. The bottom line is there is no easy instant way out, each process I had to go through to be free, took action and courage and some understanding of the process I was going through.
Going through the feeling of fear is uncomfortable, but utterly harmless
This is why so many people get stuck as they want to be free without having to go through feeling uncomfortable. I look back and every counsellor I went to see, every book I read, every pill I took, every technique I tried, and it was all built around trying to make a feeling go away, and that is why I got nowhere for so many years until I realised that is not how it works.
This lack of being willing to experience their self-created and stored emotions is the reason people go from one thing to another getting nowhere. They go around thinking ‘I just need to find what will cure me instantly, the next book, the next counsellor, the next retreat, perhaps the next one will tell me how to get rid of these feelings.
In my case, I had tried everything and realised that the answer was not going to come by trying to get rid of something. That to be free of something I had to go through the process of feeling it. I believe the blind alley I went down for so many years was a good thing, as it taught me to stop searching, that the answer lay within me and not the outside, that no one or no technique could fix me or get rid of anything.
Where am I now?
I’m entirely at peace and live my life to the full and experience no anxiety or fear reaction unless it’s genuinely needed and I don’t mind the feeling at all anyway, I have grown to know and understand it and would barely care if it was present or not.
To finish, I am not saying this is easy, I am not saying you don’t need courage and that things will change overnight. My understanding helped me, but it still took courage at times. I just decided to stay relaxed inside no matter what internal chaos was going on.
I knew deep down I was perfectly safe and okay and that it was all part of the healing process. At times that took some trust as old reactions to leave or avoid would kick in, but not once did anything bad happen. There was always a peak and then nothing, peace would always return no matter how I initially felt.
The more I went through this process, the more trust I had in it and what I was doing and in time, my emotions and reactions just calmed. The responses I used to get in certain situations just weren’t there anymore.
I was free to go anywhere and do anything, the truth is I always was, but now I could do it without any emotional disturbance. This is because all that fear energy I had suppressed and built up for many years had now been released, so there is no longer anything in there to trigger.
Just remember life is not the problem here; it only triggers what’s already inside you; you can’t feel what isn’t inside. The truth is I was never afraid of life; I was always afraid of feeling fear, and that is what eventually changed.