Have you ever come face to face with a great white shark?!
It was a beautiful sunny day without a visible cloud in the sky; the water was unusually warm in the afternoon heat. I couldn't help but appreciate the stillness of my surroundings as I kept myself afloat in the center of this vast body of water. Slowly I allowed more of myself to slip beneath the surface until the water enveloped me up to my eyes. From this new vantage point, the water appeared awesomely infinite.
In that peaceful moment I am not sure if I sensed the shark or heard the music first (from the famous movie "Jaws," that is). In an instant, my body was surging with adrenaline as a large, dark grey form appeared beneath the water. The twinge of panic I felt as I started swimming toward what I perceived as safety, evolved into full-fledged fear fueling my escape.
In a fantastic display of super-aquatic agility and speed, I reached the deck of our extensive rectangular above ground swimming pool. Once there, I sat overlooking the crystal clear water trying to figure out how I could have possibly entertained the notion that a shark had gotten into our family swimming pool, let alone reacted to that fear as if the presence of a shark was indeed an actual threat.
While in the process of manifesting what we desire in life, we often hear that we should conquer fear or eliminate it. I have even experienced workshops in which people used negative physical stimuli to condition themselves to resist feelings of fear. But if fear is an innate response--a survival reflex we are born with--how can you possibly prevent it or eliminate it? More importantly, why would you want to?
Fear is one of the most powerful emotions we feel. While fear can debilitate us, even at times rendering us unable to move or act; it can also provide us with superhuman strength to combat a threat, or achieve extraordinary success in spite of any obstacle whether actual or perceived.
Consider a hammer. It is an excellent tool to have in the house; you can use it to tap a nail into the wall and hang a beautiful picture or painting. You can also hurt yourself by tapping one of your fingers against the wall instead of the nail. Does that mean you should eliminate the hammer from your toolbox?
Similarly, when examining fear, consider that is both friend and foe depending on how you use it. Use it as a tool or a resource and fear can be invaluable, because fear is the fastest internal alarm system we have to alert us that our attention to something is vital.
When you delve deeper, swimming underneath the initially murky realm of fears' first physical or emotional pinches, you'll be amazed to discover a dry sun-soaked treasure trove of information just waiting for you to uncover, process and utilize for your greatest good. Let's investigate how to mine the value contained in fears' rocky exterior.
On the day I swam from the imaginary great white shark in my swimming pool, I laughed at my actions while taking notice of how real that imaginary shark became. During my swim to the deck, I heard myself telling me I was in a swimming pool and yet, once I had succumbed to the idea that the threat (aka the shark) was real; my second round of thoughts could not interrupt my swim to safety.
Take a closer look at nature whether on land or undersea and you'll witness an infinite range of fear-inspired behaviors and reactions taking place every single moment. Fear is truly omnipresent. This previous experience though silly, taught me something precious that serves me today. It showed me that fear whether perceived or actual, has the same power to affect our emotional and physical state. I saw my entire pool before I lowered myself into the water, yet I experienced panic over an imaginary shark and was physically motivated to out-swim it. My imagination was inspired by having experienced the movie Jaws.
There is that wonderful moment when a woman's playful movement and emotional state in the still moonlit waters is swallowed up by ominous music and ultimately the shark. My mind took certain pieces of my experience in the pool, the stillness, the apparent vastness of the water from my viewpoint and filled in the rest. How many times do you experience an imagined fear that prompts you to take real actions?
One of my clients sought help to understand why her relationships showed promise at first, yet always ended in similar ways. She had endured particularly harsh love relationships in her past. Her partners seemed wonderful up until she made a full commitment; soon after that, she experienced negative changes that left her heart broken and confused. She went on to make herself a victim of her own fear.
Every time her relationship reached the critical point, she allowed her fear of the past to project old events and imaginary information onto her current relationship, hampering her ability to see what was real. Behind every fear is a threat, which triggers the fear. Ignoring her fears may seem like a temporary band-aid that could even prevent her from sabotaging her relationship at that point. However, consider that the real value and empowerment for her comes from exploring her fear to identify the threat and determine if it is actual or imagined.
Upon further examination, she discovered the threat was the belief that she was unable to assess her partners; therefore, whenever her relationships reached that same critical point, her fear motivated her to create a reason or event that ended the relationship. More importantly, she discovered that she secretly held the belief that men lie and break their promises, which meant no man she met, could actually be "safe."
She learned that she needed to change her belief system, expectations as well as re-evaluate her ability to discern character in order to enjoy a healthy relationship. By expecting the past, she continuously manifested the past or projected the past onto the present. Through the process of exploring her fear, she became motivated to clarify her beliefs and reset her expectations, providing her with the ability to attract and cultivate a fulfilling relationship.
Regardless of whether its roots come from an experience in childhood or adulthood, a movie, your own vivid creative imagination or an actual physical or emotional threat, your fear has value. It is a gift. It may enable you to outrun or avoid physical danger; or it may alert you to significant factors within you that are obstructing your efforts to create the life experience you desire and very much deserve.
The possibilities are endless, fear is not the enemy; it's how you choose to process and utilize the emotion for your own growth and empowerment that can either serve your greatest good or hold you back. The best news is that we are always active participants in our life process; therefore rather than powerless, we are powerful the moment we choose to be.
Outside of physical danger that requires an obvious immediate response, when you feel fear, observe it. Find out what the threat is, whether it's actual or imagined. If the threat is real, you can then devise a game plan to prevent the threat from becoming a reality. If it's imagined, you can explore the source giving your fear power, ultimately remodeling your foundation to support everything you desire to create in your life.
Your fear can be an integral part of helping pinpoint the areas that need your attention to achieve the positive transformation you desire. With all the self-realization, growth and strength that can be derived from this process, why would you want to eliminate one of Nature's most universal internal warning systems from your arsenal? Fear is reflexive, when it shows up, use it as a tool and create the awesome life experience you desire today!