Fear...Many Faces, Same Result By Mark Walstrom


There is an insanity to all of the violence that is plaguing our world today.

Who or what is responsible for these acts of violence?

Is this the kind of world we want to live in?

While it makes some logical sense to blame power hungry leaders, corrupt governments, poverty, and a host of other social ills for this pandemic of violence, those are merely the surface level markers of the underlying affliction. The greatest threat to current and future stability in the United States, as well as the world community, is fear. And the most debilitating fear is the fear of taking an open and honest look within ourselves and how we contribute to the very fabric of society that we abhor. Until we accept this reality we will continue treating the symptoms rather than addressing the underlying cause.

Fear is the single most destructive force within each of us. While its true that some fear is life affirming, like instinctual fear that steers us away from potential danger or fear that motivates us to take positive action, the majority of fear is born from a deep insecurity within and is life-denying. Many of us, prior to our 10th birthday, already had the seed of self doubt planted within our psyches and from that time forward we've lived under the internal tension of that lie...that there is something inherently wrong or bad about me. The great majority of us do not escape this affliction.

The fears that impact our lives are varied, numerous, and well disguised: we fear change, we fear uncomfortable emotions, we fear uncertainty, we fear failure, we fear success, we fear differences, we fear intimacy, we fear vulnerability, we fear not having enough, we fear not being enough. It could be said that we fear living and we fear dying. Many of our fears are not so strong that we would label them fears and the internal scripts that feed the fears are even further out of our conscious awareness.

Nevertheless, however mild or intense our fears may be, they create an underlying tension that preoccupies us with the need to seek relief which leads us to becoming increasingly self-centered and we establish maladaptive coping strategies...and the most extreme maladaptive coping strategy is violence.

It is important to see our self-absorption as fear-based and an unavoidable phase in our development. It is equally as important to see it as a phase we must pass through. Life experience tends to move us away from self-centeredness and toward responsibility. However, the nature of the issues we face today, individually and collectively, suggests we are in the middle of the painful learning curve of this developmental hurdle. Fear continues to keep us living out of our unhealthy ego drives.

The longer we function under the influence of fears and the unconscious lies that create the fears, the more we create a shadow self. The greater the fear, the larger the shadow. The larger the shadow, the more destructive the effect of the shadow. For most people, the shadow remains unexplored. Without exploration and integration, the shadow remains hidden and continues to be projected onto others in negative and sometimes harmful ways.

The road to recovery and renewal is a challenging one, not just because of the enormity of the problems but because we have yet to recognize the core issue beneath the problems. We will see true progress toward resolving societal ills by leaving the surface level of the problems and dropping into the core, acknowledging that our individual fear-based attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are part of the problem. However, an acknowledgment alone will not be enough. We must be willing to make fundamental shifts in the way we live.

While the complexity of these issues is enormous, we can start with some simple changes that everyone can do regardless of age, race, sex, ethnic origin, religious affiliation or non-affiliation, socioeconomic status, personal beliefs, or political ideology. Here are some suggestions:

1). Be accountable. Admit to yourself and others the ways that fear has negatively effected you life and the lives of others.

2) Increase your capacity for self-reflection to access the hidden fears and realize your undeveloped talents and gifts that have been neglected. Work with a companion guide that can be a catalyst for movement away from the unconscious, conditioned self.

3) Dialogue with trusted others. Share your dreams and passions for a better world and discuss action steps for positive movement in that direction.

4) Monitor your thoughts...all thoughts...even the thoughts that seem positive...and drop them like a bad habit. Instead, try to live each moment as a direct experience of that moment rather than thinking, analyzing, or judging the moment. 

The words of Albert Einstein offer us wise counsel: " No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it". We can't rely on others to save us. Our leadership is operating under the same trance of fear and denial of personal responsibility. You and I are the only ones that can make a real difference in the world.

From Rumi...

"Your task is not to seek love, but to merely seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it".