The antidotes to fear
Actualizado: 29 de abr de 2020
Fear is a tremendous obstacle to leading a happy and fulfilling life. It keeps us from discovering and feeling things to the fullest. Ever heard the sentence "magic happens outside your comfort zone"? We all long for magic, but it is undoubtedly hard to get out there. We fear failure, rejection, loss, suffering... But if we listen to fear and let it control our lives, we would be missing on some of the most wonderful experiences.
Imagine a life without saying "I love you" because we were scared of not being loved back. Not following our passion because that life seemed too unpredictable. Not learning something new because there was a chance that we might be bad at it. Or not making a connection with other people because we were afraid of opening and showing our emotions.
I can't say I am fearless. Im fact, becoming a parent probably opens the pandora box of fear. It brings this emotion to a whole new level. Suddenly one day there are a thousand million things you dread. But no matter how hard you try to avoid these things from happening, they will most certainly come to being.
Your child will get sick, his heart will at some point be broken, he may lose his way or encounter tragedy. We fear we might not have the abilities to keep him safe. We worry that something might happen to us and he'll have nobody to care for him. Not surprisingly, the more we love someone, the stronger the fear of losing them or seeing them suffer is. And exactly that is the reason why we should not try to avoid fear. Would you want to miss on the love of your life? Keep a job you hate just because it's safe? Stay in the same place because starting from scratch is too much of an effort and we could end up failing?
Every time we feel fear is an opportunity to practice mindfulness. The most comfortable solution would be to avoid those situations, while the opposite is to stay present. Being present in a moment of fear can be painful and terrifying, but only then we can fully experience what is. As we stay present, even in the uncomfortable times, the marvelous parts of those same experiences are magnified. Wouldn't it be nice to feel love a thousand million times stronger? That's worth a little fear and a little pain.
The other day I reached for the pile of books waiting on the shelf and I went for "The places that scare you" by Pema Chödrön. Not surprisingly, it begins talking about love and compassion. This initial ideal has had me thinking.
Both love and compassion are wonderful antidotes to fear. When facing something that scares you, simply acknowledge the existence of this emotion and without clinging to it, focus on the love behind it: love for someone, for a passion, a dream, an ideal... As Thich Nhat Hanh says, water the seeds of love and compassion, not the seeds of violence. This change of perspective, however simple it may sound, is a brave act of pulling out of the darkness from within, not avoiding or ignoring it. It's an act of accepting that we, as humans, are vulnerable to fear, without letting it rule our lives and thus learning and becoming stronger through it.