What are you afraid of, anyway?

Terror (n.) – 1. Intense fear

Fear (n.) – 1. A feeling of anxiety or agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, pain, etc.; timidity; dread; terror; fright; apprehension

Terror, and terrorists, and fear, including the political uses and abuses of it, are on everyone’s minds and lips these days, so I thought we should look at and talk about fear.

I know no one wants to talk about it. No one wants to experience fear. I used to teach an exercise in emotion recognition, in which students worked in pairs. One student was to experience an emotion by recalling an intense experience of it and really stepping into that experience, recreating it for him/herself. The other student was to notice what they could psychically of his/her partner’s emotional state. Of course, people were thrilled to recall joy or love. Impatience wasn’t too bad, nor was anger. But people REALLY resisted feeling fear, even when I promised to replace it afterwards with a wonderful feeling.

Admit it — you’re all afraid of things all the time. Maybe you’re afraid your teen won’t come home tonight, or you’ll lose your job, or you won’t have enough food for your party, or a dog will bite you, or… (fill in the blank).

The fears that we run from, run our lives. A good friend of mine was bitten by a dog as a child, and is still somewhat afraid of dogs, so she avoids them. I mean, crosses-the-street-so-as-not-to-be-near-one avoids them. Now, most dogs are friendly, and if she watched dogs at all, she’d figure out their body language pretty easily — the ones that look up at you and wag their tails are friendly and just want love and petting, the ones who snarl at you are, in fact, best avoided, and most of the others aren’t particularly interested in you, so they’re safe as long as you don’t go out of your way to bother them. If she paid attention, she would learn to look at a dog, judge its friendliness and act accordingly. The fear would dissipate, replaced by intelligent judgment. Direct your attention to that which you fear, really examine it, and the fear will dissipate.

What is she afraid of, really? She’s afraid of being bitten again, which is to say, she’s afraid of physical pain, as well as the emotional pain (in this case, confusion and abandonment) she experienced when being bitten as a child.

In my experience, and I’ve dealt with lots of my own fears, as well as those of many friends and clients, is that most fears really are an unconscious fear of death. How do I know? When I ask people what they’re afraid of, they answer, and then I ask, “if that happens, what then?” And they keep answering, and I keep asking, until there’s nothing else. And generally the answer is death. If you believe that your soul exists after you let go of your physical body, how bad is that anyway?

Another big fear is emotional or physical pain, so bad that death would be preferable. First, most emotional pain, if you keep asking, “what then?”, becomes the fear of death, either for oneself or a loved one, which often becomes fear of abandonment, which becomes fear of your own death. Again, if the soul exists without a body, and you “die”, how bad is that? Or if the other person “dies”, then they aren’t really gone — we just need to practice communicating with the discarnate. As for physical pain, it is mostly temporary. I must admit, though, I haven’t got an answer yet for long term physical pain. (If you have trouble with really seeing your own fear, get someone else to help you. Fear is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s hard to see the mote in your own eye.)

The next question is, how likely is this to happen? And the answer is generally, not very likely. And if it is likely, aren’t you better off looking at it, so you can figure out what to do to avoid it, mitigate it or deal with it when it happens?

Now we’re supposed to be afraid of “terrorists”. Hmmm… What does that mean exactly? I think it means we should be afraid of being randomly murdered, i.e. be afraid of dying, or at the very least wounded, or afraid that someone we know will be randomly murdered or wounded. Again, how bad is death? And how likely is this, anyway? About 3,000 US residents, of a population of around 300 million, were killed in terror attacks in the last 10 years. That is, the chance of this happening to you this year is literally 1 in 1,000,000.

So when you’re afraid, ask yourself three questions:

What am I afraid of?
If that happens, what then? (and keep on asking this one)
How likely is this, anyway?

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.