June 15, 2015

How to Stop Running from Your Formless Fears.


I can’t remember the first time my life changed—or stayed stagnantly the same—because I was overpowered by fear.

I’m not referring to the “I’m in immanent danger” sort-of fear. Not the fear that comes from being held captive at gunpoint, skydiving with a malfunctioning parachute, or being chased by a lion.

I’m talking about fear that resides in the crevices. The fear we create. The fear for which we write the script.  That fear.

That formless fear.

This is something created out of past emotional experience. And the past experience has very little bearing on the meaning we hoist onto it, lasso into a barbed-wire ball, and carry around with us in our scarred and bleeding hands.

Perhaps we came from a family having very little money. The underlying message: money is scarce, life is precarious and we gotta do what it takes to survive.

This is the message that registered into our emotional world and we have that movie—our autobiography—playing in our head in a perpetual (if not subliminal) loop.

Fast forward to adult life. We default to fear lodged on a cellular level into our being. Especially when money is involved, the reel begins—the lights flicker and the background music swells. Even if we’re well off financially.  Or if we never actually went hungry in our impoverished childhood, our emotions around it trigger as if we were abandoned inside a dumpster. And like Scarlett O’Hara, the internal mantra becomes: “I’ll never go hungry again!”

And now, we create a future based on a present that has no basis in reality.

Let’s say that again: As we project ourselves into our soon-to-be future and attempt to envision what it might feel like to be in that new job, relationship or health situation we’re basing creative and manifestation energy on a perception of our current and past situation.

And often that perception is skewed and flawed—either a little or a lot.

And often the result is that we limit ourselves before we even begin.

I recently went through a relationship split. This was a committed 10-year live-in relationship. When I walked out the door, I walked away from my intimate partnership, home, furnishings, most of my belongings and my immediate sense of security. And while this is necessary for me and ultimately hugely empowering, it also rocked me to my core in a way that I didn’t anticipate.

I began creating a limited future based on the deep fear I felt in my current situation.

The thoughts that occupied my brain were ridiculous: “You’ll never be able to care for yourself financially.” I was overcome with anxiety and dare I say, my own formless fears had a field day.

And so how to stop running from our formless fears?

This is what helped me kicked them out of my terrain:

1. Allow.

This is a biggie. And it takes some finesse. We all know people who never allow a negative emotion—no anger, rage or grief for them. If we don’t allow ourselves to experience the tidal waves of emotion, they’ll get stuck inside of us—just like those formless fears. And then the fears and the negative emotion will mate—and we don’t want to be the incubator for their demonic offspring. Yet we also don’t want to reside in the wallowing phase forever. That’s where the finesse comes in. The trick is to allow, engage in healthy outlets, and move on. Healthy outlets? The gym. Good friends who listen and support. Hikes in nature. Gratitude. Crying in the bathtub. And yes, maybe even a good bottle of wine.

2. Review.   

Take stock of the actual situation from a bird’s eye view. Give space and time to review the data. Step away from the emotional precipice and get down-and-dirty with the tangible stuff. It helps to take care of practical things that can draw us away from the formless fears: packing the box, writing the check, taking the kids to school. Then, when in a more neutral or less emotionally charged environment, we can take stock of the situation. Let’s say the fear is based in a health issue. Where can the best support and information be found?  What needs to be changed? What’s to be learned during this process?

3. Tactile Visualization.

This was the tipping point for me. We can banish those formless fears when we can really truly shut our eyes and see ourselves—and also simultaneously feel ourselves—in a new, improved, expansive situation. Can we see and feel a shift as we extract from drowning in the tar pit of formless fears and place ourselves into the spotlight of: “This is what’s next for me and I believe it’s not only possible, it’s probable. Not only probable, it’s likely. Not only likely, it’s immanent.”

4. Surrender.

This clicked for me fully after seeing an interview with Oprah. She auditioned for the film The Color Purple and wasn’t called back. She cried out to God for ripping the carpet out from under her. She wanted it, she’d taken specific action to get it, she was ready and yet, nada. She envisioned another actress in the role and was able to feel that the other actress was the best choice. She could then see herself attending the film, something she couldn’t have fathomed before.

As soon as she felt the release of all attachment to the film, she got a call from Steven Spielberg telling her she had gotten the role.

Her lesson?  Surrender.

The lesson in my situation? Exactly the same. After right action has been taken, surrender and release all sense of entitlement while taking right action toward what is now desired. Then allow it to arrive in its own way, on its own crooked path, in its own timing.


Relephant Reads:

How to Dissolve Fear.


Author: Felicia Bender, Ph.D.

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Hartwig HKD

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Felicia Bender, Ph.D.