The topic for this month is fear. I’ve actually done quite a bit of research on the subject: what causes fear, (what a specific fear stems from), and how fear tends to show up in other ways: anger, resentment, guilt, frustration…
All of these emotions, some believe, are fear dressed up in costume (somewhat appropriate for Halloween).
I think about this theory when I experience some of these emotions – how my frustration, for example, could really be based on a fear I have; this helps me see my frustration in a keener way, helps me understand where that frustration comes from on a deeper level.
Along these lines, some researchers say there are only two emotions: love and fear, and that the choices we make stem from either emotion. If you’ve never heard this theory before, sit with it for a moment.
The emotion of joy? This would be love, according to the theory.
Gratitude? Also, love.
Admiration, pride, serenity, acceptance…? Love, love, love, love.
Heartache, on the other hand? You guessed it: fear.
Sadness, remorse, humiliation, disappointment…? All of them: fear.
When you’re feeling introspective – and when you need to make a tough decision – you can reflect on this theory and ask yourself: am I choosing out of love or fear right now?
Sometimes? Not always…
But interesting, for sure, especially when considering the expression “go with your gut.” It’s the times I’ve gone against my gut that fear has intervened and made me question my judgment.
The decision to take a deal that didn’t seem fair…
The decision to work on a project I didn’t love…
The decision to take a job that didn’t align with what I truly wanted…
All of those decisions were based on fear.
Am I glad I chose the way I did? I can’t say for certain, but sometimes, in my darkest hours, I would certainly say no. I deserved better. I didn’t practice self-kindness or self-respect. I feared I would never be good enough/smart enough/talented enough/worthy enough…
Other times, I would like to say the universe was giving me the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson – one I needed to absorb so that I could move forward and choose better next time.
What do I fear?
Where do I even begin?
Failure, disease, loss, death, the unknown…
I fear for my children, my husband, my extended family, my friends, my colleagues, the environment, wildlife, the planet....
I fear creepy crawly things (spiders, bees, beetles, and other insects), as well as ghosts, basements, the dark, and all-things financial. Growing up without a lot of money will ingrain in you a fear of losing your roof and your means of existence – a fear so deep it’ll keep you awake at night and make you go against your gut in an effort to sustain a career and a means of affording for you and your family.
(I’m working on it.)
Along my path, I’ve also discovered that I have Trypophobia, a fear of holes – lots of ‘em, all smooshed up together. (I know, right? Pass me a pillow and point me to the nearest therapist’s couch.) I have no idea why I have this fear, but in my fear-inspired research I’ve learned that certain fears can be genetic. Take the fear of snakes, for example… Some who claim to have this fear have no idea where it came from, not having had any direct experience with snakes. Researchers have found that some fears can be hardwired, so to speak, imprinted on the brain, and passed down through generations. They’ve proven this theory in rats, using cherry blossoms. Google it if you’re interested. Really fascinating stuff. Just don’t ever ask me to look at a honeycomb.
Happy Halloween, by the way. May you be a little less fearful this year.