No Fear by Greg Friedman

“The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.” —Oprah Winfrey

We are born without fear. It is something that we acquire and integrate as though it were a natural component of who we are. But it simply is not; it is not innate. Fear is something that we learn. It would serve us more if we were taught that fear is a useless emotion. Whatever occurs, our only option is to address it to the best of our abilities. We have a natural ability to love and be loved, and in that love we are powerful and capable. Fear is what we learn as we unlearn love.

Fear is born of our feeling impotent. If we didn’t feel we had the power to make appropriate choices while crossing the street, we would fear crossing the street. If we recognize that we are capable of making healthy choices, then there is no fear associated with crossing the street. The word “fear” has its roots in danger. We have taken the threat of danger and fantasized it into something else that makes it more difficult to deal with than real danger when it is present.

As we develop and gather data experientially and environmentally, we can be taught to fear. We can be taught false equations based on false evidence. The more we learn fear, the more it erodes our recognition of ourselves as powerful, loving beings.

We are taught that if something negative happened in the past it may happen again in the future. We are taught that if something wonderful happened in the past and it didn’t repeat itself we should fear abandonment and fear the loss.

I use an acronym for fear in my practice. Fear is just False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is something that becomes a pattern because we’ve defaulted to it often enough for us to believe it is a “natural” reaction. We hypnotize ourselves into believing that fear is appropriate. We are told that fear is something that serves us. It is a natural part of our “fight or flight” mechanism. If we operate as dumb, ignorant animals, then it can serve us. The good news is that we are not dumb, ignorant animals. We are not relegated to a base reactive mechanism.

Many psychologists, theologians, and philosophers justify fear by dividing it into two categories: unhealthy fear and healthy fear. An example of an unhealthy fear would be a phobia such as the irrational belief that there is a monster under the bed. A healthy fear would be along the lines of something that is dangerous, like putting our hands in a flame.

I believe there is no healthy form of fear. There is only awake and present versus asleep and removed. If we are awake, we don’t need to fear the monster under the bed or putting our hands in a flame. All we have to do is deal with what is, choose what serves us, and act accordingly. Fear does not serve us; being awake serves us.

Oftentimes fear is worse than the thing that we are afraid of. An event can be painful, but fear compounds that pain and creates suffering. It can prolong pain through fixation and can even cause suffering for an event that never occurs. A mother can fixate on the possibility of harm coming to her child so much that she misses being present with that child and all of the gifts that brings. The same is true of all of the people fixating on the possibility of the world ending in 2012. Or a person with a broken heart can be so afraid that they create a lonely, isolated life of suffering. There are so many methods of being in fear, but there is only one result—when we live in fear, we are thieves. We steal our own lives from ourselves.

Breaking the cycle of fear is like waking from a nightmare. As we strive to break the pattern, we often struggle, going back and forth, similar to tossing and turning in the midst of a nightmare, until we thrust ourselves out of it and we wake up. When we wake up, we see that the reality that terrified us so deeply was false and that this is our reality. We wake up and realize we are okay.