Fear of Letting Go

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girl in fieldFear is a very powerful human emotion. From a biological perspective, fear serves an important purpose. It alerts us to potential danger, producing increased levels of alertness so we are ready to ‘fight or flee’. For humans, because we have the power to imagine threats to our safety, we can initiate that biological response even when no danger is actually present, maintaining ourselves in alert mode for extended periods (even lifetimes). Unfortunately this does not serve us, and uses up a lot of energy that could be used for other things. Animals are much more efficient: let’s look at how they do it. Consider the cat. A cat has exceptional abilities when it comes to protecting itself, but mostly all you see is its detached, non-judgmental, being-in-the-moment Buddha nature.

Enter, a perceived threat. It might be a sudden movement, an unfamiliar noise, or even a real problem (dog). Sensing danger, the cat immediately alerts itself: back up, fur standing on end, tail puffed up (so it looks like it belongs to a much larger animal). If the threat is real, the cat is ready. If no attack seems immanent, the cat moves away, perhaps even with a look of boredom, and before long is stretching, grooming itself or eating. The incident is over. If humans utilized this approach, then we would not be in fear mode unless we were face-to-face with the problem. The human mind manufactures scenarios, and then the body-mind reacts as though they are real, or projects itself into the future when they surely will be real.

So what is this fear we carry in response to a mental image? It is often the work of the ego, which wants to have complete control. The fear may be as much about having no control over an outcome, as about the outcome itself. When we feel this fear, ego re-doubles its efforts to try to control the situation. When it can’t, the level of fear increases even more. From the perspective of soul, observing all of this, there is the recognition that ego is struggling to hold on to having things its way. Ego hates to lose.

Sometimes though, the lessons spirit is bringing to us are lessons in letting go. Imagine a series of concentric circles. Ego has itself wrapped tightly around one of the inner rings, for dear life. Spirit, through life experiences, nudges ego in an effort to get it to release its hold. Later on, as we all know, unheeded nudges become in-your-face wake-up calls. Ego fears letting go, for that represents losing everything. Actually, spirit’s nudgings are designed to move ego outward to the next ring; to a more expanded level of awareness.

Evolution can not happen in a vacuum. We need those difficult, challenging experiences to grow: they are the contractions which push us forward. We may be faced with ‘threats’ to our equilibrium in the form of job insecurity, relationship problems, health issues, financial worries or even aging. We imagine the worst case scenarios, and may obsess, consciously or unconsciously, about what will happen. Because the scenario has not actually happened, there really is no place to direct the defensive, reactive energy that is building. Consequently, it accumulates inside, manifesting as stress, anxiety and worry.

How could we become more like the cat, just leaving the worrisome subject alone and moving on with our day? We can do it by calling forth our awareness of our inner ‘warrior’. We all have one. It is the part of us that can truly deal with whatever comes our way, whether we know it or not. Rather than fearing the worst case scenario, we need to walk ourselves through it, figuring out just what we would do in that unlikely event. Generally we find that although we might not be happy about it, we would find strategies to manage. Once we visualize ourselves managing, and accept that we could lose what we want and still be okay, the fear dissipates. With that dissipation comes a lightness, a sense of freedom, and new energy.

In addition, because we have had to look outside of our secure walls and have accessed our strength, we may be more proactive and empowered in other areas of our life. At this point, we begin to recognize that the ‘crisis’ was only another opportunity for us to grow. It may be hard to even imaging going into that much fearful contraction again. That is because we have made the shift out to that next level of awareness. It is possible now to relax and let our guard down, because we have demonstrated to ourselves our ability to transcend fear.

Now, like a cat, we know that we might as well just relax and enjoy existence until there’s really something to worry about. Most of what we worry about never materializes. Yes, we may feel threatened or insecure again sometime but now we can relax about that too. We can do that, because we now know when that time comes, we’ll transcend the fear again. We’ll do it the time after that, and the time after that. Ho hum. Stretch. Relax……..

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