Numbing fear, avoiding, or denying it have become common ways of handling this emotion. However, when we avoid what scares us, the result is phobia and anxiety. Every year millions are diagnosed with anxiety disorders: OCD, PTSD, GAD, acute stress disorder, substance-induced anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder not otherwise specified etc. Anxiety is a generalized state of unease. We fear something but we are anxious about everything.
The problem with fear is not that we feel it but that we don’t feel it, as what is not felt cannot be healed. When we don’t know our fear, cannot experience it fully and speak it openly, we are more likely to be troubled by anxieties, phobias, psychosomatic symptoms, controlling, destructive and aggressive behaviors.
Miriam Greenspan in her book Healing Through the Dark Emotions assures that whatever the nature of fear, it is always more helpful to befriend it, than become frozen or anxious trying to avoid it. Even our neurotic and irrational fears have something to teach us about our limitations, our vulnerabilities and our need for healing.
The author is encouraging us to consider fear not as a weakness but as information, a signal of unsafety, a usable energy, a way of knowing. What fear tells us is that we are human. We are vulnerable. We are interconnected with others in the fabric of life. We can allow fear, breathe through it and use it’s energy. We don’t have to let it become panic by avoiding it.
‘Joyful living is not the same thing as living without fear. It’s about living fully with fear. Mindful fear moves us to act with courage and loving- kindness, in the service of ourselves and others.’ M. Greenspan.