It has become more apparent to me lately how much we all live in fear. Do you?

I don’t just mean of the “big” things, like the fear my friends in the Austin area were dealing with RE the package bomber a short time ago, or even climate change or the political climate. I mean the little things that set us off, and cause us to react to people in a way that really doesn’t make sense unless we realize both (or several) parties are coming from a fear-induced state.

Here are some simple examples you may be able to relate to (names changed for privacy):

  • Charlotte is trying to help Sophia. However, Sophia is unclear in her emails, and as a result, Charlotte’s new boss (copied) says something like “mistakes happen.” But Charlotte didn’t make a mistake; in fact, she tried to clarify with Sophia several times because Charlotte does not make mistakes. Now Charlotte worries what her new boss thinks of her.

  • Emma messages her boss Jake (and Ava, her boss’ assistant) about a meeting she’d like to be sure Jake attends. When Jake contacts Ava about handling it, her response is curt; she’s upset that Emma contacted Jake as well (and not just her).

  • Abigail is about to do a short presentation. Although she knows her content well and that (intellectually) she has nothing to worry about, her body isn’t convinced. Her heart is racing, her breath is short and shallow, and her palms are sweating like crazy.

  • William enrolls in another online course, even though his schedule is packed and he knows he didn’t incorporate the information he gathered from the 6 prior trainings he attended; he’s concerned he might miss the one nugget critical to the success of his new business.

Can you relate to any of these situations? What is going on here?

Fear. Plain and simple.

Charlotte, Ava, Abigail, and William may suffer from one or more of the following fears:

  • making mistakes,

  • feeling embarrassed,

  • being thought of as less than perfect,

  • what might happen if others don’t think they’re professional, responsible or capable,

  • failure,

  • being disliked, etc.

In some cases, there are historical reasons for these fears.

For example, perhaps Abigail grew up in a family that encouraged her to sing or dance or otherwise “perform” but when she made a mistake, she was punished for it in some way.

But it’s not entirely necessary to go back to root causes.

It’s my growing belief that it’s more important to:

  • have a gentle awareness that in every interaction, it’s possible for one or both parties to be coming from a fear-state, or that a fear-state can be triggered at any moment (with or without conscious awareness),

  • do your best to make yourself feel safe and secure (whether that’s before, during, or after an interaction that feels challenging). If you suffer from trauma or PTSD, this is especially important,

  • kindly reflect on past interactions–not to ruminate–but to see what perhaps was not clear in the moment, so that you are more likely to recognize it and be able to make a change next time,

  • (if you’re practiced at this, you can also) do your best to make the other party feel safe and secure–especially if you sense their reaction is out of proportion with your perception of the situation,

  • have faith that you are valuable and loved.

Sorry, what? Have faith that you are valuable and loved?!

It is my experience (from a period of meditation on the topic) that safety and security stems from the deep, mind-body knowledge that regardless of life circumstances where yes–we might screw up from time to time–we are valuable and loved anyway. My hypothesis is that if we have faith that this is true, the amount of time we spend operating within fear states will decrease. We will feel safe and secure at a level that transcends our challenging daily interactions, making them easier. And possibly…possibly, a level that transcends some of the bigger s**t we’re dealing with too.

Do you have faith? Why or why not?

I’m working on this as my next meditation practice. I hope to have more clarity soon. I have faith that I will. 🙂

Living in fear, and what Faith has to do with it
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