Fear Makes a Much Better Friend Than Enemy

Fear Makes a Much Better Friend Than EnemyImage by Alexandra Haynak

I want you to throw away your preconceived notions of fear, along with any particular opinions of anxiety and its causes. In doing so, in opening your mind and your spirit to what might be an entirely new way of thinking and of being, you will embark upon the most challenging, illuminating, and richly satisfying journey of your life.

It is one familiar aspect of fear that strangles us, holds us back, and keeps us living lives filled with stress, unhappiness, and emptiness. It is another hidden aspect of this same fear that—when listened to and understood—affords us the opportunity to engage in the lives of our dreams.

Fear has two faces, not just one. The first face, destructive fear, keeps us tangled and immobilized. The second face, constructive fear, is a hidden ally we can come to recognize and know. Through this journey, you will come to notice and appreciate this trust­worthy ally; you will come to make transformational fear your friend.

From Living a Lie to Living Free

In a few simple sentences, I will tell you about a woman I know very well. On the outside, she seemed to have it all. She had the right education, the right house, the right kids, the right clothes, the right husband, and even the right car. She was a successful high-performer, working dutifully from dawn to well after dusk. She did everything that was expected of her and far more. She wanted everyone to be happy and pleased; perfection was her goal.

No one knew that she was dying on the inside. The woes of her difficult history had been repressed but not forgotten. The perfect marriage was a farce. The job that paid the bills was not the one of her dreams—far from it. It was a job of duty and subjugation; it was entirely devoid of joy. Yet she continued to smile, to carry on. She might have walked off the earth’s edge had it not been for the bright light of her two sons; she wanted to survive and thrive for them.

At what seemed to be a most inconvenient time, a momentous epiph­any hit her smack in the face. She realized that she was modeling for her children how to accept a barely-lived life. Hers was a life of gray, endless days of toil, a loveless marriage, and a job that fed upon her soul. She’d come to feel that she was a pitiful shell of a woman who accepted far less than she wanted and far less than she deserved. This woman was unwittingly trapped in the grip of a nearly inextricable, invisible web of fear that kept her constrained and internally dead. This devastated woman, as you may have guessed, was me.

The Journey Begins

Unwittingly, largely unconsciously, I began my journey away from fear in the early months of 2005. I woke one morning and whispered to myself, I would rather live under a bridge than live this life. I truly meant those words. I had no idea where I was going, how I would get there, or if I would survive the rigors. I knew one thing only: that my life was not worth living if I did not try.

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Despite complete uncertainty about what the future—my “new world”—would hold, I had decided that I would rather die than live the smothered, suffocating, and meaningless life I had come to accept.

Had you told me at the time that my life thus far had been ruled by fear, I would have stared at you uncomprehendingly, staunchly and whole­heartedly disagreeing. I would have averred that I was an independent, strong, tenacious, and determined woman. Had you pushed me further, I might have recounted my varied external successes, my accomplishments, my sound capacity to tend to whatever business was at hand, and the highlights of my education and career. I would have tossed my head back, looked at you with fierce eyes, and steadfastly ignored that I was dying— actually suffocating—inside.

And yet, with an objective backward glance, I now clearly recognize that I had lived the vast majority of my life in the silent, overpowering grasp of fear. Much of what I am now able to acknowledge, now that my inner gaze and sense of self is much clearer, was impossible for me to see when I lived in fear. Fear had served to mask my vision, to slowly infiltrate my world until I did not recognize it for the jailer it had become.

Raised In Fear

I see in my not-so-happy childhood that much of the way I was raised— indoctrinated—was based in fear. As the ninth child in a large Catholic family, I was raised to fear my father, my eldest brother, and God (in that order). I was taught to fear leaving the “safety” of the family. I learned to fear the world in general, for strangers might discover the secrets, woes, and frail stability within the family.

Without my realizing it, pervasive fear had become the glue that held our family together. It was this glue of fear, this internal message, that unconsciously permeated my life.

As I grew older, I learned to mistrust myself. On those rare occasions that I took a step on my own—a move toward natural autonomy and self-trust—I was admonished and warned that I was wrong, that I would fail, or that I wasn’t being “smart.” In essence, I was trained to fear walking my own path and becoming independent.

I came to doubt my strengths and my abilities. I did not learn to value and become who I innately was as an individual but who I was expected to be.

Even so, my inner voice occasionally balked, but I was hushed and taught to follow the “right” path. Head down, eyes lowered, I listened and, fearful of the consequences, did as I was told. In fearing and doubting my own capacities, I put my faith in others rather than in myself. I attributed to others the power and wisdom that were inherently mine alone.

I was taught to distrust others, yet instead I grew to doubt and mistrust myself far more than I doubted those around me. In abandoning my true self, I grew into someone I did not recognize. Without having words to express it, I lived with a chronic sense that some critical element within me was amiss.

Driven by Fear

Most interesting to me is how little I actually realized that I was driven by fear. In retrospect, I now see that the bulk of my decisions about vital, life-shaping topics, such as education, relationships, marriage, and career, were motivated by fear: fear of being unloved, fear of not receiv­ing approval, fear of being disowned by my family, fear of God, fear of physical retribution, fear of a failed marriage, fear of financial instability, or fear of not being able to manage on my own.

I was immobilized and desperately unhappy, yet I did not have the understanding or the tools to extricate myself. Although my spirit felt that something was gravely amiss, my daily struggles and closed mind precluded my realizing that such angst could be used to transform my fears into freedom.

I did not possess the ability to recognize the Medusa-like aspects of fear that serve to both terrify and sustain. Fear has the ability to bring us to our knees in self-doubt. It also has the capacity to bring us to the greatest heights of who we are.

In working through my own fears, I came to appreciate fear’s unique and intricate role in the journey of life. Although at first unaware of the nature of my process, I now realize that I wrestled with what I came to call “transformational fear” on an intimate level for many years. Blind fear had me in its grip. Once I realized this fact, I was stunned. Once I accepted its truth, the real work of transformation—and my true life—began.

It has not been an easy path, for the work of self-confrontation and inner awareness often appears endless, yet the reward of finding myself has been invaluable and incredible. Once I have faced and conquered one aspect, another rises to greet me with a knowing, half-familiar grin. Progress comes in being able to more readily recognize the force of trans­formational fear, and to use it—not fight it—in my continuing journey.

Fear As An Unparalleled Teacher

I now know fear for what it is—both an immobilizing force and an unparalleled teacher. I have personally experienced the “dark night of the soul” and witnessed its potential for bringing profound illumination along with exquisite, intense pain. I have learned that a life lived in immobilized, destructive fear is a life scarcely lived, and I can now never return to such a barren existence.

There is immense power in the realization that transfor­mational fear has the capacity to lead to the unearthing of my own buried treasures. I have realized that there is no need to live within this fear. In fact, if transformational fear were to speak with us directly, I believe it would command, “Do not succumb to my darker, negative side. Notice that another side exists—an enlightening, positive side. Look at me, learn from me, and use me—your fears—to transform your life into what it was meant to be.”

Here I am, this many years later since the tentative commencement of my journey, a vibrant testimony to the incredible, life-changing pow­ers of fear. I finally pursued my lifelong dreams of becoming a clinical psychologist and helping others through their own life journeys. I have learned to notice and confront the demons that told me I should act in ways that were not right for me.

My days are not spent in the confines of offices geared toward financial gain; instead, my days are spent loving, guiding, and soothing others. The changes I made were hard-won, yet my soul now knows a vast and true freedom. The source of this energy stems from inner love and a sense of divine connection that is wise to the ways of destructive fear. I am no longer stifled, confined, and accepting of that which is not good for me—that which suffocates or undermines me. Instead, I strive to know my essence, stand in my truth, and reach toward ever more wondrous heights by helping others as I have helped myself.

Through the power of transformational fear, I have been given the jour­ney of my life—an extraordinary labor of pain, love, and incomparable rewards. I made a vow that I would use my learnings to help others success­fully accomplish the same journey. I want you, too, to know the power of transformational fear.

©2019 by Carla Marie Manly. All Rights Reserved.
Published by Familius LLC. www.familius.com

Article Source

Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend
by Carla Marie Manly PhD.

Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend by Carla Marie Manly PhD.If you find yourself running away from fear, you're running in the wrong direction. Fear demands that we move toward it, face it, and hear its messages. When we fail to do this, the price is high-chronic anxiety, sleeplessness, damaged relationships, skyrocketing pharmaceutical use, and more. In her enlightening book Joy from Fear, clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly explains that fear, when faced with awareness, is the powerful ally and best friend we all need.

Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book. Also available as an audiobook.

About the Author

Carla Marie Manly PhD.Dr. Carla Marie Manly has become recognized as an authority on fear and fear-based disorders such as trauma, anxiety, and depression. With a doctorate in clinical psychology and a master's degree in counseling, Dr. Manly merges her psychotherapy skills with her writing expertise to offer sound, digestible guidance. Recognizing a need for greater somatic awareness in society, Dr. Manly has integrated yoga and meditation practices into her private psychotherapy work and public course offerings. Visit her website at https://www.drcarlamanly.com/

More books on this topic

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