How to Use Negative Emotions to Your Advantage: Part 1A FEAR
The upcoming negative emotion that I am going to write about is anxiety. Stay tuned in. It is such a prevalent emotion in lives of most people, but first I am going to write a bit more on how to be more enthusiastic when you are addressing a fear.
The problem that fear addresses is how your ego self continues to operate in old patterns that are not longer useful. When you feel a fear inside of you, it is saying loud and clear that you do not have the new capacity to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
When fear is your friend rather than your enemy, then the fear is just a messenger that says you need to develop something new inside of you. What it does, which is its purpose, is to show you just how incapable you actually are. It is like getting a phone call that allows you know exactly what you need to overcome to get to the next phase of life. When it is the enemy, it is treated with disdain. The goal is to just rid yourself of the fear by whatever means necessary. People seek alleviation. The proper attitude is to seek curiosity and enthusiasm about what is the new capacity that is coming into place. It it human nature to always be seeking new growth. We are beings that are driven by the impulse of inner growth, of new capacities that will benefit others.
If you go to most medical professionals including most psychiatrists, they are interested in helping you get rid of things so that the negative that you are feeling goes away. The thinking is that if the fear goes away, then everything will be back to normal and you can return to happiness. In my model of dealing with fear, the fear is the messenger that is telling you that in your current so-called normal state, your life isn’t getting to where it is supposed to go. It is a very different way of looking at fear. Fear is the friend that is going to take you to your growth. If you don’t have it, you won’t grow.
I am going to use my own example of skiing here. After I retired from working overseas in international schools, my wife and I moved back to Vancouver, Canada. The previous two decades we had lived in warm climates that never saw snow, but on return to Canada, we had the joy of lots of snow in our local mountains during the winter months. My previous experiences with snow were with snowboarding, but it just seemed like, with my age, it would be better to return to skiing. We have just completed our second winter of skiing. Every new challenge is exactly the same when I am skiing. It starts with a degree of fear on going down a new run that is a little more difficult than the ones I feel comfortable on. The process is always similar. I see the new run start heading down it, get into difficulties that I haven’t encountered before, tense, stress, hold back, and then wonder if I am ever going to make it down the hill because usually I have already fallen. After getting down to the bottom, I usually try to find someone who will help me or encourage me in improving technique. My eyes tell me that it is really steep and that I am not going to be able to do the turns, that I am going to go out of control and get really hurt. When I let go of what my eyes are seeing and let go of making a big deal out of a possible fall and injury, relax and remember how to turn, then the run goes really well and is exhilarating. It is so difficult to remember to relax and go forward and turn. I can just tense and get stiff and lose all of my flow. When I do the run for the second time and then the third, remembering to relax and flow and turn, then it becomes exhilarating. My capacity for skiing on a more difficulty run increases run by run. What I can do now compared to two years ago is significantly different. My joy keeps multiplying.
The big question is not about how I get rid of the fear because it would be easy to just not try the new runs. The question is about where the fear wants to take me that is new and positive? Where does your fear want to take you? That is a life altering question.
What is your fear and where does it want to take you?