Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Overcome Fear?

What is fear? How do we remove fear?
Yes. A Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice. ―Yoda to Luke
It is hard to understand the nature of fear by looking at oneself. It is better to step away from the topic and look at fear from a distance. For my example I will use the movie Empire Strikes Back. This movie is full of stories about fear, one part especially captures the nature of fear. Let's examine this moment, and see fear through the eyes of Luke Skywalker. When Luke was learning from master Yoda on a faraway planet (leaving home) there was a cave (dark, hidden and unknown) that Luke would occasionally pass. The cave was haunted and it frightened Luke. Yoda noticed Luke's fear of the cave. When Luke wanted to leave and rescue his friends, Yoda convinced young Luke to enter the cave he feared. All of Yoda's training was, in a way was preparing Luke to face his fear of the cave.
What was so scary about the cave?
Luke wasn't sure why he feared the cave, he just sensed danger.
Why did Yoda want Luke to enter the cave?
Yoda new that Luke didn't fear what was in the cave, Luke feared what might be hiding inside. Entering the dark cave Luke could hear strange noises, clearly Luke was afraid. He sensed the cave was haunted. Even after all of Luke's training to be a Jedi he still feared the cave and its hidden secrets.
What awaited him in the cave?
Why did Yoda ask Luke to leave his light sabre?
Fear and danger are often confused as the same thing, or at least we treat them the same. We don't notice that fear is a creation of the mind (like so much of our life). Fear doesn't exist if we don't let fear into our thoughts.
Yoda asked Luke to leave his light sabre behind because Yoda new the cave was safe and didn't hold any danger to Luke. Yoda wanted Luke to face his fear and realise his fear was only a creation of his mind.


Fear is a creation of the mind, but not from our thoughts, fear is born from our feelings. Feelings are a primitive way of thinking, feelings happen without thinking. All fear is connected to the feeling of dying, and is why fear invokes our fight or flight response, our primitive brain tells us our thought is dangerous, and we might die.
A big step in self mastery is the ability to control our feeling of fear. First we need to realise fear is not real or permanent it is a feeling. Fear grows from the bad feelings arising from our thoughts. Emotions are linked to our feelings of pleasure and pain. Fear is strong feeling associated with danger and pain.
Back to Luke Skywalker. When Luke entered the cave, Yoda wanted to expose Luke to his fear of nothing, the cave wasn't dangerous or haunted. Luke had only projected his fear into the cave, his fear lived and thrived in darkness.
Probably every self help book ever written has been about overcoming fear.
... you can’t predict the future. All situations are far more complex than you can possibly calculate, and fear has a way of completely screwing with your higher faculties. Whatever horrible moments you’re afraid of, they cannot match the way the situation is actually going to go down. - David,


Fear seems real because it manifests itself in our emotions. Emotions are a primitive part of the brain that overrides our higher faculties. It takes practice to see past our emotions and observe the true nature of our circumstance.
In fact, it’s always a feeling. All we want in life and all we fear in life are feelings. Everything you have ever wanted: toys, candy, sex, money, love, letters in the mail, friendship, a clean kitchen — what you really wanted was the feeling they give you. (feelings)
Just the same, everything you have ever feared: embarrassment, failure, poverty, rejection, losing your job, getting sick or injured — it’s not the situations that are fearsome, but the awful feelings you expect them to give you. -David,
How can you remove the fear?
The truth is everyone has a natural fear of the unknown, but some people will challenge their fear. Brave people have learned from experience that fear is mostly a imagined and not a true reflection of the danger. For example many people are scared to walk up to a stranger and ask them out on a date. Why? Is it dangerous? Are they really better off not asking? There is a lot to gain from confronting your fear, and much less to loose.
One of the ways we learn to live, is to learn how to die. What does this mean? Well, the ultimate fear, is the fear of dying. If you can accept your death, all your fears will diminish in size. I believe this is one reason why people are attracted to dangerous sports, but this can be a distraction from facing the deeper fears, social fear, the fear of not being accepted and being alone. Learning how to die teaches us to the meaning of life, what do I want to experience before I die? How do I want people to remember me?
How is your fear similar to Luke's? Is the fear born from the unknown or is it real? What does real fear look like? Why is fear good for you? Think, how can I use fear to make me better? What is on the other side of fear? What removes fear? Have you ever overcome a fear? Was the fear real? Did the fear need to exist? Was life better with or without fear?
The benefit that comes with facing fear.


On the flip side of fear is bravery. A person cannot be brave without first knowing fear, and to the person who conquers their fear comes power.

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