Sunday, April 6, 2014

Living With Fear

A reader asked me the following: “You keep referring to Fear as our basic negative emotion. I have always thought that anger, resentment, guilt, and self-preservation were the primary emotions we had to fight. Will you please comment?”
Another good question. Thank you.
In Alcoholics Anonymous I learned that fear stood for Future Events Appearing Real. That’s always been a good definition for me. In A Course In Miracles (ACIM) I also learned that all my future apprehension and dread came from reliving my selective memory of perceived past events. I was just bring my remembered past into the present and treating it as an absolute fact that colored my present – my Now. I also have learned that fear underlies all my negative emotions.
Michael Z. [] commented on his experience dealing with his emotions without the anesthetic effect of alcohol. “… Chief among these [emotions] were my feelings of dread and fear, which manifested themselves first as anger, and then as rage. It wasn’t until I completed my fear inventory that I began to understand that the reason I was so angry was because I was so full of fear.”
From Robert Perry, [Glossary of Terms from A Course In Miracles, Circle Publishing, 2005, pp. 32-3] writing about Fear: “[Fear is] The experience of being attacked. [It is} the single emotion of the ego, the emotion of separation. Fear is a recoil into separation, away from a perceived source of danger…. Rather than being the initial cause of other emotions, fear is the end result of a chain of emotions and contains implicit within it all the emotions of the chain: First, we feel anger, which is expressed in attack. Then we feel guilt, for we interpret our attack as [self-centered preservation – and, if really religious, will call this “sin”]. Then we fear the punishment and death our guilt says we deserve. Out of our fear, we attack in [perceived] self-defense, and the chain starts over. Fear is the ego’s goal and its essence. The ego must cause fear to perpetuate itself….”
Behind every negative emotion lies FEAR!
Whether it’s anger, resentment, disappointment, not-getting-my-share, guilt, rationalization, vulnerability, worry, or apprehension, behind each of these feelings is FEAR. If I could impress upon each of us one exercise that could begin to liberate us, I would suggest we train ourselves (through repetition} to say to ourselves: “Behind this emotion is FEAR. Instead of attacking or blaming someone or something “out there” for “making me feel this way,” I will ask myself: ‘What am I fearful of? What’s really going on? Why am I frightened?”
Trying to teach myself this, with the help of friends in AA and ACIM, is where I am right now – and have been for a year or so. Sometimes it’s difficult to focus my mind on what’s truly happening within me. I want to blame. I want to rationalize my feelings of [whatever] as being fully justified. I want to convince myself – and God? – that it’s normal and understandable to feel this way.
But it isn’t normal and understandable to feel this way. Fear is our perception in our self-created “dream” world. Love and Acceptance and a knowing of Oneness is the only true reality. So, acceptance-love-oneness is the opposite of fear – and, of course, the death of the ego.
When operating from my ego, I am always on the alert. I am watching for – and expecting – an attack from “out there.” To relax and go with the flow means I’m allowing myself to be very vulnerable and I will be taken advantage of. Others are also wary of me, fearful that I will take something from them or take more than my share and they will suffer. Because I believe they’re wary, I must be wary. I must always keep my defenses up and be prepared to strike when their defenses are down. It’s a constant mental/emotional boxing match. One small slip-up and – BAM! – I’ve been had. They won. I lost.
That style of living is really, really, tiring. It’s exhausting. To live from my egoic mind, which I thought was normal, forces me to live in a constant state of fight-or-flight. My body and my hormones are running constantly at full-speed. I am in a continual state of stress – and my physical health will reflect that. Living like this is abnormal!
Toward the end of my drinking, I had to have alcohol in my system 24 hours a day in order to feel normal. Every 4 hours or so, day or night, without a drink would bring on cramps, sweats, and shaking. It was withdrawal, although I didn’t know that at the time. All the while it never dawned on me that to live like that was very, very abnormal. When I was truly sick and tired of being sick and tired, I finally gave up – saying to my kitchen counter, “I can’t go on like this. I can’t do this anymore.” That very honest confession over 25 years ago was the beginning of my journey to sobriety, health, and my current spiritual development.  
You don’t have to be an alcoholic to be “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” If I am tired of living the way I’ve been living, the only change I need to make is to be willing to allow the Holy spirit to move me from a perception of lack, worry, anger, resentment and that fundamental, onerous belief that I always must be prepared to ward off the dangers of the dog-eat-dog world I believe we live in. If I am willing, the Holy Spirit will gently move me to a perception of Love/Acceptance/Oneness which will bring me the peace the Christ promised: “Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such as the world [of ego] cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears….” (John, 14: 27) This has happened to me. It can happen for you, too.
That’s what I want. That’s why I look for the fear that lies behind the faces of all my varying negative emotions. And my fear is always there.
I hope this helps.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#1 April, 2014

Copyright, 2014

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