A Spiritual Lesson in Overcoming Fear
by Nichole Eaton
What are you afraid of?
That sounds like a simple question. A childish question almost. I’m actually quite sure that I asked my 7-year-old this last night as she was whimpering, skiddishly on the stairs, not wanting to go all the way to the top for fear of a ghost.
We don't ask ourselves this question enough. Fear blocks us from happiness, from living a life more authentic, and by learning about how fear works we can combat it.
But first I have to take you to the first time anyone really asked me this question...I remember when I was in middle school and I did my very first beauty pageant. I had never done a pageant before and to be perfectly honest I was the Honey Boo Boo of pageant girls because there was nothing pageanty about me. I was tall, full of limbs, and awkwardness. I was incredibly shy and definitely not well spoken. The only thing I knew how to do when I was 11 was be myself, so I did.
Amidst the flow of ball gowns and twirling batons during the talent show hour, there I was sweating profusely, and falling behind trying to follow directions of what every other girl seemed to have instinctively known. It became even more apparent to me how desperately out of place I was when it came time for the interview portion of the pageant. I sat quietly ruminating on what question they would ask me, impatiently bouncing my knees up and down. The interviewer was placed at the podium, having more Aquanet in her hair than your average 80’s hair band, with a bunch of notecards gripped tightly in her fist. I stepped up to the microphone as she read the index card aloud, “What are you most afraid of?”. Before I knew what my mouth was doing I blurted out, with a rather spastic gesture: “BEES. I’m absolutely terrified of bees”. Everyone laughed as my face turned 50 different shades of red. I’m sure I was supposed to say something along the lines of failure or rejection, but instead, the buzzing black and yellow insect of doom made it all the way to number one.
I’ll have you know that I haven’t quite grown out of my awkward phase or abnormal phobia of bees. I’m still hoping that will happen. But I’m readily aware of the way fear seeps into my life.
The Course in Miracles, a spiritual text, calls fear “Ego”. This is different than the Freud's psychological reference of the word ego. Instead it's a word for the way fear can get in your way and completely block you from living a full and happy life. It separates you from love and truth that is your soul and intuition. You’ll notice fear and Ego creep in at the base of your skull and work their way up through phrases like “I’m not good enough” or “It’s hopeless”.
Last night I made a list of everything I was afraid of, which is totally how normal people spend their Wednesday nights. Fear doesn’t have to be a phobia. Fear sometimes looks like things we are avoiding. Fear can come dressed as insecurities wearing mismatching shoes and a handbag from last season. Fear lives deep in our epicenters of interaction with other people, restricting us from fully connecting or being authentic. It whispers things like “this isn’t going to work out” or “don’t get too close; they will leave”. Fear is tricky and wow, does it feel as real as my office unicorn.
The Course in Miracles says only love is real, and anything other than love is simply an illusion. As I sit there, glaring at the long list of things I have let shut my world or my relationships down. I feel a bit overwhelmed because this fear stuff seems SO real. Fear makes my heart beat really fast, and makes my head spin. Fear fills my inner script with loads of crappy things on the regular.
But what I’ve come to realize is that fear is always a choice. Sometimes to overcome it, I have to be active. I have to say stuff like “My ego is at it again.” I even get a bit sassy at times saying, “Nope, not today fear.” Even more simply, “If its not love, it's not real.” Paying attention to where fear pops up in my life. Paying attention to my thoughts, allows me see where I’m letting my fear run free. It’s easy to give into fear because that is what we are used to.
Sometimes we have to drop kick fear right in the face and tear it apart at the seams. This looks like looking at all the potential outcomes instead of just the fear based one. Gathering evidence against the fear. Has this ever happened before? What are the chances of it happening again? What is the reward of abandoning fear rather than the risk? Fear has a much harder time talking crap when you start questioning it.
Much like the ghosts that my 7-year-old daughter was afraid of, if you throw a little bit of light on the darkness you might recognize it was only the cat who got his tail caught in a plastic bag again. Our imaginations can truly run wild, but if we demystify the scary, we can bring it back to a place of love, calm, and peace.
Make a choice. Fear or Faith. Go ahead. They are both invisible.
Scoop up your copy of Nichole's book Rock Your Soul: The Down-to-Earth Guide to Mastering Your Mind and make sure to follow her on instagram @nicholeeaton.xo