It’s Not Your Fear That Cripples You.
It’s your relationship to your fear.
What do you know about fear?
There are plenty of books about fear proliferating the shelves of bookshops all over the world. There are very few exceptions but most literature is about overcoming fear. This gives us great clarity about the way that fear is currently thought of. The assumption is that fear is a negative emotion, that it cripples people, it is unpleasant and that makes people weak and manipulable.
Take a moment to think about it. Why would you stop yourself from feeling and expressing your fear? Imagine authentically completing the statement “I feel scared right now because…” at a birthday celebration, at a meeting with your boss, while paying for your groceries at the supermarket, while speaking with your kids, at the gym locker room, at the bank? What are you scared might happen? Something…unpleasant? Something bad? Merriam-Webster writes that fear is “an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger”. Cambridge dictionary calls fear “a strong, bad feeling that you get when you think that something bad might happen”.
New-Age relationship to Fear
Let’s say you have been to a lot of self-development workshops or spiritual courses or that you lived in a spiritual or conscious community for a while. What then is your relationship to fear?
I observed a common thread in so-called spiritual and conscious groups and communities for conscious relating, conscious sexuality, conscious listening, conscious child-rearing, conscious-living, etc. The tendency is the sometimes unspoken but often outspoken assumption/rule is that not only fear is bad, but fear is not spiritual. That fear is what happens to people who are not conscious enough. That Love (capital ‘L’) is the opposite of fear. (lower-case ‘f’ just to make sure that the audience knows that fear is something small and petty). And this theory creates a separation between the emotional part of a person and their cognitive part. People start talking about fear as if it is something separate from their bodies, as if somehow fear came from somewhere else and would come into them to attack the spirit.
In sum, the main assumption is that ‘fear is bad’. An unquestioned assumption. It’s really old thoughtware.
This is what most people know about fear. In sum, the main assumption is that fear is bad. Bad usually means unpleasant, not desirable, not welcomed, and in some way blocking success. Whatever success means. If fear is all that, then anyone intelligent would do everything in their power to avoid it or make it go away. Perhaps that’s what you do. That’s what you have been taught to do.
But this is an assumption. An unquestioned assumption. The dangerous thing about assumptions is that assumptions do not have to have any hold on reality. You can assume anything about anything or anyone. But that does not make it true. Have you tried that? Assume something about someone else or how life works that then turned out not to be true? How did it go for you? (for extra life-changing research start examining the assumptions that “life is fair”, “people are bad” or “people are good”, “I need money to live”, or “I am in a relationship”)
This mostly unquestioned assumption that ‘fear is bad’ has been carried around for millennia. It is really old thoughtware. You have got it from your parents. Your parents have got it from their parents, who in turn learnt it from their own parents, and so on, without questioning the assumption. Why? Because it worked. Hurray you are alive! Whatever they did in the past, whatever decisions they made has led you to being born. The assumption that Fear is bad has allowed you to survive. But is that all you want to do? Survive the day? Survive your job? Survive your parents? Your marriage? Survive your life? What else could there be besides surviving? What other possibilities lie beyond what you already know?
What if the very thing that you have been running away from, is actually the thing that could empower you beyond your knowing?
What if Fear is not bad?
Well let’s see, if fear is not bad, then there is no need to repress it with ‘medication’. Less anti-anxiety pills and sleeping pills (I’m sure the pharmaceutical industry would not like that). Less alcohol consumption (bad for the numbers of socially accepted or unaccepted alcoholism). Less tobacco usage. Less cannabis usage. Less binge-eating.
If fear is not bad, not weak, not infantile, then there is no need to protect against feeling it. People feeling fear would not need to isolate themselves. Less despair, less suicides. If fear is not bad, there is no need to overcome it or heal it.
What cripples people is not the fear. What cripples people is their assumptions about fear. It’s their relationship to fear.
Most people in the world in this day and age have a crippling relationship to fear. They do not learn how to feel consciously, despite thousands of hours of deciphering mathematical formulas, analysing history and literature. Our ability to feel feelings and emotions is something so basic to our functioning as living organisms and so fundamental to our relational capacity and yet almost everyone in mainstream culture does not learn to develop responsible emotional competence. Those who want to learn these skills need to head to the fringes and alternatives to their culture to find anything real non-theoretical, insipid or responsible about fear. And still, most groups at the edge of modern culture do not have real new thoughtware about fear. It continues as the biggest taboo feeling.
Fear does not go away. If you are alive, you will feel fear.
It is exactly because of the use of the old unquestioned thoughtware ‘fear is bad’ that the world population is crippled by fear. ‘Fear is bad’ helps develop little to no capacity of feeling fear consciously. And the thing with feelings is that they do not go away. If you are alive, you will feel fear. Feeling is the price of admission of being really alive. And if you start blocking out fear, or sadness, or anger (the classic ‘bad’ feelings trio), then you are blocking your aliveness.
Fear does not go away. Marketing agencies know it. Politicians know it. Corporations know it. And they all make their money out of it. If they get to your unconscious fear, they know you are going to give them all you have so that the fear goes away. With the old thoughtware they can easily exploit your crippledness around fear because that fear is mostly unconscious.
Let’s say you want more than survival. You see how your current relationship to fear creates the experience of paralysis, inducing an automatic fight or flight response. You see how making fear the villain in your life has made you a hostage of fear, and that is taking its toll on you. You see how others around you drink, gamble, or smoke to calm their nerves and it is costing them their full presence, creativity, their aliveness. You want more than what your parents did, what others are doing. You want to shift to a new way of relating to fear. You want new possibilities for living a full life in your own way.
Here is some new free upgraded thoughtware about fear (you’re welcome!)
Warning number 1: The shift to a new thoughtware comes at a price. It costs your unconsciousness. If you get the distinction, then you can never go back to not knowing the distinction. You can pretend that you do not know, you can choose not to use it, but you cannot un-get it. Remember the character Cypher in the film The Matrix, who was resentful about having taken the blue pill that would pull him into reality. Once you are conscious about something, there is no going back. You have been warned.
Warning number 2: You do not necessarily get the transformation of the distinction merely by reading these words and their clarity. That is called mind candy. You get the transformation of the distinction by going through the distinction of the new thoughtware and applying the radical knowledge it contains.
New thoughtware: Fear is a neutral source of energy and information that has useful applications. It is an intelligent and natural inner resource for your life.
Let’s talk about energy. The energy we call electricity contains the ability to power your fridge and computer. The energy of Conscious Fear holds in itself the ability to power some skills. The type of skills that uses the energy of the fear are things like sensing, alertness, scanning, focussing and attention, being careful, noticing details, risk measuring, gathering information very fast, assessing, planning, predicting, preparing, intuition, and also invention, pioneering, creation, innovation, adventure, and more. You can test these skills yourself at your own discretion or by attending a Fear Club.
Now imagine these skills applied to the domains of art, relationship, sexuality, your true purpose, your transformational path, the transformation of your company or organisation or gameworld. Imagine bringing innovation and adventure to your work, invention and intuition to your way of relating to sexual spaces with a lover! Your life could be more alive and full of authentic discovery!
It is conscious fear that supports navigating new territories. It is conscious fear that helps you move — not freeze — in the face of the unknown. Fear is designed exactly for that. What a wonderfully wholesome creation of the Universe where the nature of reality is completely unpredictable and unknown; and we were given fear as our innate rocket fuel to be able to navigate its groundlessness.
Let’s talk about the information part. It’s not just the sensation of fear and what it causes in your physical body, your emotional body, your mental body, your energetic body, and your archetypal body (see more about the 5 bodies here), it’s also about the doors of perception that fear opens. Fear contains a kind of clarity. Your fear has messages for you about yourself, about your environment, about what is precious and important to you and that you care for.
Your fear is always feeding you information about everything, even things that are not real. That is its purpose. It is fear that powers your ability to make up any story about anything. (Is Susan silent at the table because she is sick? Because she is distracted? Because she just got harassed by someone? Because she is hiding something? Because she is jealous? Because she is listening carefully?) Each story you create reveals something about yourself, and what assumptions you are making to perceive yourself and the world. Your conscious fear can help you navigate yourself and your interactions with the world.
What is the difference between conscious fear and unconscious fear?
If you have not done any conscious fear work or went through an authentic adulthood initiatory process, then most of the fear you experience would be unconscious.
Conscious fear is pure energy from the small here and now. It lasts three minutes maximum, gives you information, and if you receive the information it then vanishes completely until the next fear comes. Feeling your fear consciously means feeling your fear with the purpose of being able to hold the intensity of the energy of the fear, even high intensity fear, without harming the nervous system and the psychological system, to handle things, to create things, to use the skills mentioned above. Most people I have worked with report that conscious fear brings more wakefulness and aliveness to their day and spaces, and often feels ecstatic, especially in high intensity.
Unconscious fear (also called emotional fear) lasts longer than 3minutes and can feel like having more of a weight on you. Most unconscious fears come from past experiences where you felt fear. But at that time maybe you were too young or the conditions did not allow the fear to be felt or heard, or you simply did not have the new thoughtware of fear. The fear would then not be felt consciously and its message would not be heard by you or anyone else. This causes a kind of incomplete communication in the fear system that jams the circulation of fear until the jam is liberated. These kinds of events are extremely common as most people in the world have the old thoughtware of fear running.
The jam, or what some people would call an emotional wound, or even trauma, can be liberated through an emotional healing process. (I will not write how emotional healing processes work but you can check my quick explanation on a post and see over 100 brilliant examples of them).
Conscious fear is there to handle things, to create, to use the skills. Unconscious fear is there so you can heal things, those jams from past experiences.
Applications of Conscious Fear
Applying conscious fear is phase two of fear work. Phase two of fear work can only truly be effective after going through an authentic adulthood fear initiation, and then training yourself to be able to feel the fear consciously and for no reason, and after having done quite a few emotional healing processes.
Learning to feel consciously and to inner navigate fear is phase one. I do not recommend anyone starting phase one by yourself. Part of the old thoughtware of feelings work (and most work in general) is that feeling is an activity done individually and in many ways isolated from others. Most people go away to feel, because it would be ‘bad company’. It cannot be done within modern mainstream culture.
The journey into consciously feeling fear is done in Next Culture, in a radically responsible context for community, for village, and for a team of people with their full heart out. You can do this in a safely held space with an experienced spaceholder in a Fear Club, or a training, a Possibility Team, or with a Possibility Coach.
Here is an experiment to start connecting with your conscious fear and applying it.
It would be impossible for me to tell you about all the applications of conscious fear but here is one experiment that has been building the basis of conscious fear work in the context of radical responsibility for many fear researchers around the world.
Step 1. The first step is to decide that it is okay to feel fear. Start with saying out loud: “Fear is my ally and it has important information for me!”
Step 2. Then decide to take 5 minutes each day for ten days for this experiment at home. five minutes is the time for the coffee to be perfect, or for the bathroom to be open. You can do this sitting or lying down with a piece of paper and a pen. Set the timer for five minutes.
Step 3. Start with saying out loud “hello fear, what do you have for me?” Then don’t try to do anything, or force anything. Just listen. And write down what it says. Even if it sounds silly, or unreasonable. (remember, it is the fear’s job to be unreasonable, how else would it be able to power innovation and pioneering and invention?)
Step 4. After writing down what it says, ask again “thank you, fear, what else do you have for me?” and allow the fear to come up again, listen, and write. When the 5 minutes are up thank again your fear for giving you so much important information about what is and could be.
Step 5. Look at your list of fears. You can now decide which fears to handle and how, and which not to handle. It is you who decides, NOT your fear. The job of your fear is to simply give you relevant information. Yours is to discern. Is your fear possible? Is your fear likely to happen? Ok, it’s both, then you might want to handle it.
The shift to a new life also has a price. It costs your old ways of doing things. Probably you, or someone else you know, have tried to create change in your life without actually doing anything new. It simply does not work.
What I propose here is that you take this new thoughtware about fear and try it out. Notice what kind of new things are possible when fear is energy that carries important information. When fear is a natural and intelligent part of your make-up as a human being. Practice being more attentive to the sensations of your fear without moving away from them, just a little at a time. You can ask a coach to be with you while you take your first steps. You are not alone in this research. There are more and more Possibilitators around the world, changing their relationship with their fear, so they create a new culture that does not shun the experience and intelligence of fear but use it responsibly.
The world needs you awake and present to your life, using all the innate powers and resources of your fear, so you create an expansive, creative alive life.
With Fear and Love,
Vera Luísa Franco
Possibility Management Trainer & Coach