There is no single emotion that drives our world today, but if I had to choose the most impactful, I would choose fear. Fear is the most prevalent emotion on this planet and most of our decision making is driven by it. But we don’t know this is happening. We don’t know we are driven by our fear because it doesn’t look like fear. Our fear disguises itself in other behaviors from our defenders. Fear doesn’t sound like, “I’m scared.” Fear sounds like “I am always right. You are stupid. I know the only truth. I have the only story that matters.” It builds a wall around itself and won’t let anything in. Other people, perspectives and possibilities are strictly forbidden to challenge it.
Unfortunately, when we don’t see our fears, we can’t see the patterns they are creating or how to get out of them. This can be devastating to our lives. And our fear will be further encouraged by those in our circle, who hold similar fears. Instead of being pushed to consider new ideas, we will become further entrenched in our fear-based decisions. The two primary parts who hold this fear are the controller and karma kid. They are the two most powerful defenders, so without awareness and separation from people encouraging our fears, we will not break free of this. In reality, it is a struggle no matter what.
But there are truths about these fears that we can learn. Those truths can help us to break free over time. Let’s walk through some of them now.
Our fears come from childhood. Even our most adult fears come from childhood in some way. The events that initially caused those fears might be a bit symbolic. But let’s face it, they are often unmistakable. If we fear connection, our relationships in childhood were not safe for us. If we fear vulnerability, it was not safe to express vulnerability as children. If we fear we will never be successful as an adult, we were told this in childhood. We may have been “shown” this with impossible, age-inappropriate tasks. And these fears are evidence-based. They are full of examples from childhood and adulthood because these fears are self-fulfilling. This is why the patterns are so hard to break. If we don’t poke holes in the stories behind the fears first, it is hard to manifest anything new.
Our fears are held by children. Our parts are children. There are people who will argue with me about whether or not parts can be adults. But parts do a great job of acting like adults. And adulthood starts between 25 and 27. So parts can be older. But they were never allowed to develop to a full adult perspective. We only have one adult in our system. That is our grounded adult self who we are trying to reach. Children will often hold fears that come from the disempowered life of a child. They respond to life as if they have no choice in the events of it. And this is what we can help change within our system.
Our fears show up in unusual ways. As I mentioned earlier, fears don’t always look like fears. They can look like anxiety. They appear highly logical and rational. They can look like condescension toward other people. They can show up as an unyielding opinion or story about self or life. They have reasons and those reasons make sense to our mind, the mind who is creating them. Of course, there are more obvious signs of fear including paranoia and panic. And it is important we do not dismiss them as over-reactions or drama. They are based in our past realities and we must allow them to express.
Some of our fears are true, but they don’t have to stop us. Here’s the hardest part. While some fears are no longer accurate when we live in our empowered adult self, some fears can never be fully dismissed. The people we grew up with may have made empty threats. But they may have made very real threats. In many cases, we can dismiss those threats as wimpy adults attempting to control children to make themselves feel better. In other cases, those that threatened us are dead or in jail. That helps. But sometimes, we can’t deny the very real possibility that threats could become a reality. We cannot allay the fears of our parts completely, nor should we try to lie about it. But over time, we can come to understand that life is not about succumbing to the fears for survival purposes only. Life is about living while we still can. And the more empowered we are, the less those nasty people want to mess with us. After all, they act like they do because of their own fear. This understanding takes time to cultivate, but we can get there.
So don’t run from your fears. Don’t invalidate them or ignore them or justify the behaviors meant to hide them. Let them express. Let your body shake. Let your vulnerability come forward if only to yourself for now. Allow enough self-compassion for you to be human because you are. Let your parts share their very real evidence. And you will find yourself taking small steps in new directions. Will it feel scary? Yes. But for the first time, you won’t feel paralyzed to do it. The empowerment that comes from acknowledging your fears is life changing. Give yourself this amazing gift.