I've learned that taking a good look at what's causing my stomach to knot up is a terrific idea even if it's a little unpleasant at first. When I don't look, fear starts running my life without my knowing it and without my permission.
Many of the things I've been afraid of in my life have just been leftover stuff from childhood - like being afraid of being alone, lost or abandoned.
It's not actually dangerous for me to be by myself, for example. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. It's nice to have companionship but it's not actually necessary.
It's also impossible for me to be lost - I was only lost if I couldn't find my mother when I was a child. Now, as an adult, I might not know exactly where I am, but I can put my wits to work to figure it out so I can get where I'm going. (GPS technology and maps really help with this.)
It's also not possible for me to be abandoned. It's only possible for a child to be abandoned. I don't need a caregiver so I'm okay even if someone in my life decides to leave my life. I will miss the people that come and go, but that's not about being abandoned. I can abandon myself, however, by not taking care of myself. So I've learned to grow up and take care of me.
Then there are the fears that are related to the past. I've made a lot of mistakes, and I lived with the fear that they would catch up with me and I would pay a price. Then I was taught by my spiritual mentors that it was my job to make amends for those mistakes as best I could, and do my best to not make the same mistakes again. Then I can let go of the fear. If I have to pay a price, I can pay it knowing that I've done what I could to amend the mistake but that the price is just.
Of course, anxiety and worry about the future also plagued me and still can today. What has helped the most with those is to remember that I've made it through a lot of scary stuff with the help of God and people I love. So, there's no reason to believe that God and the people I love will quit on me now. I've surrendered to the reality that scary stuff happens to everybody and that even if I do everything right (which isn't actually possible for human beings), I will still not be able escape difficulty. I will be okay anyway.
Those annoying Buddhists keep telling us that everybody gets sick, has disappointments, has to deal with events that are difficult,. If we're lucky to live long enough, we'll get old, and we're all going to die. They tell us that the answer is acceptance and compassion. Most of our upset comes from believing that stuff isn't supposed to happen.
So...the practice of analyzing fear has kept me almost fear-free for quite awhile. That is a huge gift and I highly recommend the practice of facing fear instead of running away from it.
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