Being OK With Fear

This blog post is about fear. My experience of fear. Something I have been become very familiar with in the last few weeks. It’s not like I haven’t been afraid before. Sometimes very intensely. Lately, it just seems that fear has taken over my attention and is demanding some consideration.

Fear is one of the basic emotions of life. It is hard wired into our nervous system. Fear tends to be processed in the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure that is considered the hub for fear processing in the brain. Up to 70% of the amygdala is dedicated to process fear. It has allowed our species to survive and thrive. I have no doubt fear was essential for helping our species thrive and survive. I am left somewhat unsure if that hardwired response to uncertainty, change and the unknown really serves us well in the times we find ourselves in.

I find that there are many types of fear. Some much more real and immediate then others. Fearing for your life, or the life of a loved one is about as real as things can get. That feeling is immediate, and intense. That level of fear required a response that is more than I can even fathom. What I am experiencing is certainly not that. The origin of my fear stems more from uncertainty. Feeling ungrounded and untethered from my life. I am by my own making being confronted with a huge amount of change. All of this turbulence evokes fear. Fear of the unknown.

Fear diminishes the greater possibilities of my life. It severs the connection to a deeper sense of my being. It feels like my future has no promise. At a very basic level of awareness, I know this “condition” is not really grounded in reality. My mind can run amuck and create more stories that are not based in any real truth but none the less add to my pending sense of doom. I am left feeling an intense unyielding discomfort. It has a very deep visceral quality. The fear feels like a stuck energy resonating throughout my nervous system.

The best question I need to ask myself, is how do I find my way back from this feeling of fear? How do I regain my sense of self?

Don’t ignore fear. Hard to do even if you are inclined to want to. It demands your attention.

This is what I do to deal with fear. I don’t run from it. I don’t hide from it. I don’t medicate my way out of it. I don’t change the subject. I sit with the discomfort. I sit with the pending sense of doom. I feel the discomfort. I learned to be OK with not being OK. I also learned that in not too much time the pending sense of doom will begin to dissipate.  

I always process what I am feeling with a friend. I friend who loves me. Who will tell me that “all of you me accepted”.

Yesterday I went for a walk in Sabino Canyon. I went there towards the end of the day.  Just before the sunset. One of my favorite places to hike in Tucson. Deep in the Sonoran dessert and only a few miles from where my partner and I have a home. I could feel that sense of doom literally slough off. The desert washed me clean and in doing so helped release this stuck energy of fear.

The more I leaned in my fear, the less it demanded my attention. The more I could stay in the present moment and not project onto the future, all the “what if’s, the less my fear had a hold on me. So here I am on the other side of feeling afraid. Of feeling the fear of what lies in front of me. All the change I signed up for. I have no doubt this will not be the last time I will need to find a way out of just being afraid. Truly a very human experience.

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