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What Is FEAR Trying To Protect You From?

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Anxiety

What Is FEAR Trying To Protect You From?

Why fear is really false evidence appearing real

Somebody left these four words as a comment on Alanis Morissette’s Facebook page in response to our interview. I looked at the words for a minute then spelled out the acronym: F.E.A.R. Oh, yes. Yes yes yes. Fear is certainly False Evidence Appearing Real. It’s often extraordinary how much fear distorts our perception of reality. I’ll give you an example from my own life and then some current examples from my clients and E-Course customers.

I’ve been somewhat over-focused lately on a mole on my older son’s back. Now, he’s always had a constellation of four moles that create a perfectly straight diagonal line from his left shoulder blade to his lower back. I’ve loved these moles since he was a baby and have often marveled at the fact that they seemed to foreshadow his passion for science and outer space. Seen through the lens of love, my husband and I have smiled at the moles throughout the years and named them “Constellation Everest.” In short, they’ve always been a warm source of joy.

Then, a few months ago, a friend of mine went to see her dermatologist to have her moles checked. She has a family history of skin cancer so she’s vigilant about checking her moles. I didn’t think much of it until she told me that she was taking her young son as well and, as it turned out, the doctor expressed some concern about one of his moles. It never occurred to me that a child could develop skin cancer. My radar just wasn’t attuned to that topic. Until now.

The next thing I know, one of Everest’s moles looks bigger. Really, much bigger. Every night when he and his brother take a bath, the second mole in Constellation Everest blares out at me and seems just a fraction of a millimeter bigger than it did the night before. It’s no longer beautiful and sweet; it now appears menacing, a harbinger of doom. There are nights when my stomach literally drops in panic at the sight of it. I even went so far as to measure it a few weeks ago so I would have a baseline from which to check my calculations. My fear-mind is absolutely convinced that there’s something wrong. And even as I write this, I have to keep my fear-mind in check, as it just popped up saying, “Well, now that you’ve written about this in your blog, it probably means it’s true. It’s not fear; this is reality.”

False Evidence Appearing Real.

Breathe. Wow. Sometimes I can really scare myself. Especially when it comes to the health of my kids.

Okay. I’ve worked enough with the fear-mind to be able to pull myself out of it. When I breathe into my deepest self and connect to God, I know that he’s fine. My fear has attached onto the mole as its latest place to hang its hat. Fear has to hang its hat somewhere; it doesn’t like floating in amorphous space untethered from its space pod. My anxiously engaged clients hang their fear on the questions of, “Am I making a mistake? Do I love him/her enough (or the right way, or at all)?” My pregnant and new motherhood clients hang the fear on, “What if something is wrong with my baby?” My married clients, who haven’t quite taken the leap from attaching their joy and aliveness onto their partner to taking full responsibility for their well-being, hang the fear on, “It would be better with someone else. Someone else would make me feel passionate and happy.” Fear likes the tangible. It also likes to project onto somebody else. This gives us the illusion of control.

What is that we’re so desperately trying to control? Loss. Feeling out of control. The unknown of the future. Taking full responsibility for our well-being. The fear-mind says, “If I’m hyper-vigilent about Everest’s mole, I can control the future. I can avoid unbearable loss. If I let go, something bad will happen.” It’s a lie, of course. It’s pure fantasy and illusion. The truth – the difficult yet ultimately liberating truth – is that the future is out of my hands. The fear-mind of the anxiously engaged says, “If I analyze my partner to death, I can avoid making a mistake. If I walk away from love, which is a risk, I can avoid the possibility of loss.” Again, it’s pure illusion, but fear’s mission is to keep you separate from the risk of love. Love is vulnerable. Fear, as awful as it feels to be in its grip, is safe.

I’ll say it again: Fear distorts reality. Seeing life through the eyes of fear is like walking through a fun house with wavy, distorted mirrors. One of my clients, who has been struggling to remove his negative projection from his wife, spent several months thinking that she was fat. The ironic truth was that she was actually thinner than she had ever been since he met her, but his fear eyes added fifteen pounds to her frame. Isn’t that extraordinary? That’s how powerful fear is.

The antidote to the fear-mind is the faith-mind. The faith-mind says, “I surrender to the future which is out of my hands. I surrender to this moment and to accepting that which I cannot control. I let go of negative thoughts and anything that prevents me from living each moment as fully as possible. I choose to see the reality of now, what is only before my eyes. I choose to see this moment through the eyes of love. What does love see?”

Ask yourself right now. Wherever you are, close your eyes and ask yourself, “What does love see? What is fear trying to protect me from?” And let me know your answers.

[Sheryl Paul]

As the daughter of two psychotherapists,Sheryl grew up with the language and theories of psychology running through her blood. As a young girl, she vacillated between dreaming about one day being either a writer, a therapist, or a midwife. Having found the confluence of these three arts through writing about and spiritually midwifing people through life’s transitions, including the transition of transforming anxiety, self-doubt, and depression to serenity, self-trust, and joy, Sheryl feels deeply blessed to be living in the heart of her calling.

While her writing and counseling work have primarily focused on the specific transitions of getting married and becoming a mother, in recent years she has felt called to broaden her practice to include the lifelong transition of life in all its beauty and complexity. For whether on the verge of leaping into marriage, getting a divorce, suffering through anxiety or depression, struggling with an addiction, or birthing a new identity as a mother, Sheryl believes we find the same issues of self-trust and control appearing again and again. The story line may change, but the spiritual seeker quickly finds that the areas that need attention reappear at deeper layers of the spiral on life’s journey.

Sheryl utilizes an effective, 6-step process called Inner Bonding® cradled within the spiritual context of transitions to create a powerful framework through which she can assist clients in finding their own voice, exploring the stories and beliefs that interfere with hearing this voice, confronting their need to control and the perpetual practice of learning to surrender, and guiding them as they make their way through life’s challenges and joys. Her decade of working with clients in transition combined with years of a loving marriage (not without continual consciousness and hard work!) and the privilege/challenge of being a mother have solidified her firm belief that, while guides are often necessary to help us find our way through the labyrinths, no one outside of ourselves and a spiritual source has the answers. In fact, SheryI believes that, whether we’re talking about parenting, marriage, or anxiety, there are no definite answers; there’s only the process of discovering what’s right for you.

In 1997, Sheryl graduated from Pacifica Graduate Institute, a depth psychology program founded upon the teachings of Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, James Hillman, and the study of dreams, archetypes, myths, and the myriad ways that the unconscious manifests in daily and nightly life. As a writer, poet, and epic dreamer, she encourages her clients to explore their own creative outlets as pathways for connecting to Spirit and finding their own truths.

In 1999, she launched her unique business, Conscious Weddings, and a year later published her first book, The Conscious Bride, which broke the taboo of discussing the underbelly of the wedding transition. In 2003, her second book, The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner, was published, and in 2004, she began working with impending and new mothers through Conscious Motherhood.

Since 1999, Sheryl has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her Home Study Programs and her website. She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top media shows and publications around the globe.

To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, “Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes“, visit her Home page. Sheryl looks forward to hearing from you.

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