The fear of fear

When I felt fear in the old days, I just felt fear. But since I learned about the law of attraction, which has become mainstream since the movie The Secret came out, things have gotten much more complicated. In a nutshell, the law of attraction means that like attracts like: positive thoughts attract positive things and negative thoughts attract negative things. So, basically, if I dwell on the things that scare the crap out of me, I’ll create them.

Now I’m scared of being scared.

On some level, this strikes me as wrong. Emotions are messengers that bear information for us, and we ignore them at our peril. They must be invited in, heard, and then released. Carl Jung said that what we resist persists, and being afraid to fear seems like resistance to me. If I resist fear, won’t I create what I fear?

Instead of resisting fear, what if I felt it, made a decision about how I’m going to respond to it, and then moved on? Fear motivates us to act like nothing else does, and perhaps I just need to work up the courage to feel and transmute it.

This works for me on a philosophical level, but on a practical level, I hate feeling fear. I have never understood why people go to horror movies.

But hang on a minute. What if my fear is just a judgment? Raising a son brings many opportunities for fear and watching Adrian has often made me wonder how our species survived. When he was younger, Adrian seemed to need to take risks. Life for him was a perpetual if-then loop. If I do this, then what will happen? It was challenging to balance his need to explore with my desire for him to survive his childhood. But he has survived, and all the things I considered risky did not turn out to be fatal after all. I feared for his life and in my fear, I judged many things dangerous that didn’t turn out to be.

Walt Whitman wrote “Be curious, not judgmental.” What if, instead of judging that whatever I fear (and indeed, fear itself) is bad, I were curious instead?

What if?

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One thought on “The fear of fear

  1. Hi Petra:

    Great blog! I stumbled upon you through Facebook, believe it or not (I was seeking out writers on Whidbey, as I will be moving there in a little over a month).

    It’ll take me some time to read through your other posts, but I’ll begin with this one, which spoke me to my current situation amazingly well. As my husband and I prepare to buy a a house and move to the island, a fear that’s been pervading my thoughts, and my worst nightmare, is losing my partner. I must surely not be the only one who is terrified of that “knock at the door” bringing the worst kind of news. Fears like that seem to have their basis in appreciation and love gone awry: “this is so good; I must not deserve it?” If such a thought is truly the basis of our fears, the problem lies with us and the fear is simply an illusion.

    I always wanted to name my future son “Adrian.” He sounds like a very sweet boy.

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