Have you ever felt betrayed, left out, abandoned, worthless, or just small and insignificant….?
I know I have many times in my life. These uneasy feelings were the reason for my quest to find the source and hopefully the cure to a life free of these feelings.
Thankfully, a book called “Face to Face with Fear” from Dr. Thomas Trobe, M.D. entered my life when I was 22. Without the help of this book I would not have been able to overcome the darker periods of my life, returning to the happy, peaceful life where I, as we all, prefer to be. Even today the book has enormous value to me as I navigate the ups and downs of life.
The premise of the book is that there are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. On the other hand, when we are in love, we open ourselves to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.
Fear affects and often dominates all aspects of our life: how we speak, how we work, how we eat, how we relate, how we create, even how we breathe. Fear which has not been acknowledged contaminates all of our intimate relations. Fear belongs to the ego, our personality. The soul (Being) knows no fear.
At birth, we as humans have no sense of self. We are in a start of “Being”, without knowledge or self-consciousness. Slowly, through experiences of pleasure and pain, memories are retained, forming our first self-impressions. As we start identifying with ourselves to be this or that (this or that=self-image) we separate ourselves from this sense of Being. Our image is not Being. As our ego-identity and sense of self develop become stable, the contact with the Being, or Soul, in its various aspects and qualities is mostly lost, but still remains!
Fear is a core issue, perhaps THE core issue that we all deal with through our lives. There is fear of asserting creativity, loss, criticism, judgement, rejection, loneliness, failure, success, intimacy, confrontation, anger or losing control. When this fear is ignored, it gets placed in the back of our minds from where it exerts a powerful and often crippling affect on our lives. Even though we attempt to cover it up with all sorts of compensations and addictions, as long as it remains a hidden force, it can cause chronic anxiety.
We tend to protect ourselves from feeling fear or pain. We do this by focusing the energy elsewhere – into actions, into distractions, into thinking, into drama, into sex, into eating etc..
But if we can make friends with our fear, bringing it out into the open and explore it with intensity and compassion, it can become transformational – opening us to a depth of vulnerability and self-acceptance.
There is a beautiful story that illustrates how we give ourselves over to our caretakers in order to get the love we desire and thus survive in life:
“A man walks into a tailor shop to order a new suit. The tailor takes his measurements and asks him to return in a week. He comes back in a week to get his new suit, but as he tries the suit on in front of the mirror, he notices that one arm is too short, one leg is too short and the waist is much too large. When he points this out to the tailor, the tailor, looking at him in front of the mirror, says: “no, there is nothing wrong with the suit, it’s just that you aren’t wearing it right. Look, first you have to stretch your arm like this. Then your leg like this and puff out your belly like this. Now, see, it fits just fine.”
Convinced, the man limps out of the store wearing his new suit. As he hobbles slowly down the street, he passes two old ladies. One says to the other: “Did you see that poor crippled man. Gee, what a shame!”
“Yes” replied the other. “What a terrible shame! But did you notice that beautiful suit he was wearing?”
This story is about shame and conditioning, derived from fear (of survival).
We take on the fears, repressions and sense of duty and obligation from our parents, teachers, priests or politicians.
Our budding individuality and authenticity is brought down slowly by the repression of our society. We feel we have no choice. We give up our energy, vitality and spontaneity in exchange for “love”.
Instead of blossoming into our true nature, we become what we is expected of us. Unconsciously, we continually compromise in return for our survival. We forget who we really are. We conform and become good citizens, good children and good students.
Even if we were able to be rebels, our rebellion would still be a reaction to the outside forces. We would lose our inner joy, trust and love for ourselves.
The restlessness and speed with which many of us eat, speak, move and keep ourselves busy are some of ways that our inner panicked child manifests him/herself. But this inner child often goes unnoticed and by ignoring our inner child we only create deeper trauma’s.
The fear (panicked inner child) itself is not the problem. It is our lack of awareness and acceptance of this fear that causes difficulties. Intimacy is perhaps the most common place where we have to confront our panicked child and that is why we avoid it.
Only our meditator (the watcher, our Soul) within us is large and trusting enough to hold our vulnerabilities and insecurities because meditation brings understanding and space. Our inner child simply does not have the same capacity.
Facing loneliness is another area where our spiritual path loses it’s romantic and idealistic fantasies. Dealing with it is not as easy as visiting a New Age book shop or holistic natural food store. When this wound surfaces, we are deep in the trenches. It hurts and every part of our conscious mind wants to avoid feeling the pain. Until we are willing to face this wound, our relationship with life and others is controlled by our reactive-entitled child.
Our journey through life can not be deep or blissful and our relationships will only be superficial arrangements masking mountains of resentment. We will never find another to shield us from the fear or the pain. Once we pull back this projection, we can actually share the path of finding truth with another. Until then, the lover is not yet a friend, he or she is someone we project upon to relieve our pain.
Our conditioning does not give us much support to let go and trust life as it comes. It deludes us into believing in the hope that someone or something will take our pain and fear away. It does not support the inner road that can lead to genuine recovery. It does not support mediation.
If we want to find ourselves again and rebuild our trust in ourselves and our life, there is no alternative other than to pass through our denial and journey inwards to face our pain and fears. This is the path of introspection and meditation – embracing what life brings us as food for growth – just watching, feeling and allowing. And this path is accessible to all of us.