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What Happens When You Are Not Afraid of Fear?

Dear Integral Meditators,

What happens if you are not afraid of fear? Actually you could just sit down and ask yourself that question like a zen koan and see where it takes you and get some productive results. But I’ve also written an article on it below!

In the spirit of not being afraid,


What Happens When You Are Not Afraid of Fear?

Usually we are afraid of being afraid. We don’t like the unpleasantness of the experience, and so as soon as we detect fear in our body and mind we start to fight with it, trying to push it away. This approach gives us only two options:

  • We can continue to resist the fear and thus experience an ongoing inner battle between ourselves and our fear or
  • We can become a victim of the fear, simply being afraid and acting impulsively based around our fearful feelings

A third option is that when we feel fear arising within us we can consciously welcome it into our body-mind with awareness. We can practice watching which part of our body the fear is located, we can observe and be curious about the dialogue that fear initiates in our head. We can extend care to it when it comes into our mind, we can choose to look after it. We can learn to simply be with it, rather than trying to solve it, get rid of it or being a victim of it. If we start to approach our fear in this way with mindful curiosity then gradually we will cease to be come intimidated by our fear. We will start to understand it more, and we will then be able to learn from it.

But what can fear teach me?
If I am afraid to say something to my friend because I am afraid that s/he will disapprove or dislike me for it, then it indicates that I care for the friendship. If I am aware of this fear, and not afraid to work with it, it may also show me that I am too reliant upon the approval of my friend, and that with relationships that are worthwhile and genuine, sometimes it is really important to communicate what you believe in, even if it may not be received that well.
If I am afraid to leave my job because of the uncertainty that will result, that fear is right to the extent that our basic financial security is important. If I can become comfortable with that fear, then I can move beyond it and leave my job, but at the same time I can take appropriate steps to mitigate the risk involved.
If I have a life threatening illness, I can use my fear to take action to maximise my chances of recovery, whilst at the same time not having my present moment quality of life destroyed by anxiety over my future.

When you open to your fear it starts to show you things. Useful things.

Becoming comfortable with our fear offers us freedom of choice, and the option to act intelligently and appropriately to the genuine concerns that our fear is pointing out.

Often I find that the things that I have the most fear around are, quite naturally the things I care about the most; my family and friends, my clients, my work, my health. It’s natural to have fears around these things because I care. If I can become comfortable with the fears that arise from caring, if I am not afraid of those fears, then I can use them as a reminder that I care, and to keep caring all the more.

If you made a choice to try and be, say 10% less afraid of your fears today, what difference would that make to your quality of life? Maybe you can try it today and see…

The curve ball: Many of us are so afraid of our fear already that we have pushed our fear into our unconscious – we literally don’t know we are afraid, and we don’t want to know. Accepting the reality that we are afraid is the first step.

Related article: Recognizing Three Types of Fear, Meditating on three Types of Courage

© Toby Ouvry 2015, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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