Fear is a Dog with No Teeth

 

If you look closely enough at unhappiness, you will generally find fear at the root of it:  People fear being hurt. They fear being alone or they fear losing their independence. They worry that others will discover that they're frauds. They are afraid to be found unworthy; inadequate. They fear that others will know them too well, then use that knowledge against them.

They spend their entire lives avoiding and/or denying the fear in various ways.  They overcompensate.  They make bad decisions.  Perhaps they fix only superficial problems.  They run away.  They numb their fear with drugs or alcohol or casual sex. They look everywhere except where the problem is.

Most people don't even acknowledge their fears or understand how profoundly those fears affect their lives;  their happiness,  their actions, their relationships,  their general satisfaction. Most unhappy people don't even understand the reasons.  They look everywhere except where the real problem is. And of course, a problem cannot be fixed until it is identified.

Here's the thing:   Fear is a bully and a devil.  It tricks us into looking for answers in the wrong places. It misdirects our attention, like a stage magician, so we don't see the obvious. Or like the Wizard of Oz, it makes a lot of frightening noises, so we don't notice the meek man behind the curtain.

Fear is the mind's way of protecting us from something which our unconscious has determined is "dangerous."  But the unconscious mind has a logic of its own, totally different from the conscious mind.  Fear is, by its very nature, irrational.

The job of Fear is to scare you away from the REAL issue.  You think Fear is the problem,  when it's only the gate-keeper.  It stands guard,  like Cerberus, at the gates of the Unconscious.  When you get close to the issue,  it rises up on its haunches, barking and growling as if it had a mouth full of sharp teeth. 

In fact, it's a dog with no bite however as long as you back away every time it growls,  it doesn't need teeth.  Just the threat of teeth is enough.  Your own fear of Fear is Fear's greatest weapon.

You cannot attack Fear from the front.  That's like having a sword fight with a hologram.  To win this game, you have to be smarter than Fear.  You must recognize that Fear is just an illusion.  You must stare it in the face, without panic, because every time you run away,  you give it more power and more energy.  You must remain calm and logical and consider your options.  You must not waste energy fighting the hologram; you must find the projector and pull the plug! 

To be free of  Fear, you must first understand what secret part of you it is protecting and why.  It's rarely what you think it is because, as I said,  Fear misdirects your attention.

Understanding yourself is a lifetime of work.  It is not a matter of suddenly finding one key that unlocks everything, and voila, life is full of roses and lollipops!  It's a process.  Knowing yourself is a challenge, but I think the most interesting one you can face!  After all, who is more interesting than YOU? Every little bit you learn about yourself, helps you to understand everything else more deeply, and reduces the pain and confusion that is inevitable in life.

 

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."
-Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

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© 2010 Adrienne Gusoff

August 2, 2012