Elizabeth Gilbert: Choosing the curiosity path

As Elizabeth Gilbert suggests, this is not about having curiosity or fear. We all have and are both and much more.

This is what we consciously align ourselves with, here and now, even in situations our minds may tell us are small and less important.

What’s here is important. What we consciously align ourselves with is important.

If I notice I align myself with fear in a particular situation, that’s OK too. I can have curiosity about that. I can find receptivity in that situation. I can wish to explore and get to know and understand it better.

My own experience with supporting my kidneys through climate, diet, and healing

My kidneys have been a focus for my healing over the last few years, and I thought I would share a few things I have noticed.

EPSTEIN-BARR AND CHRONIC FATIGUE

First, something I have been told. I got the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) when I was fourteen, in the form of mono/mononucleosis. That led to full-blown Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) a few months later when I was fifteen. Apparently, this virus stayed in my body since then, especially in my kidneys which weakened dramatically over time.

Long before anyone told me this, I had noticed that my kidneys seemed especially weak. Even without specifically scanning my body, I sensed that my kidneys were cold, weak, dry, and fatigued and that this impacted my system as a whole.

WHAT IMPACTS MY KIDNEYS

Here are some things I have noticed about my kidneys:

My diet impacts my kidneys, and especially sugar and white sugar. If I eat sugar, I notice my kidneys get colder and more (energetically) brittle and fatigued. This is most noticeable for one or two days, but can impact my kidneys over time if I don’t help them with diet (bone broth, etc.) and energizing.

Cold weather does the same, especially if my waist area is exposed to the cold over time, and if I breathe in cold air over time. If I am in a cold climate, this can weaken my kidneys dramatically over weeks and months, and the summer may not be enough for them to recover since my system in general is fatigued.

It seems that fear also impacts my kidneys. For instance, if I work on an issue in the evening that brings up fear, I often notice this fear in my system during the night, and when I wake up in the morning I notice that my kidneys are cold, brittle, and fatigued. This tends to pass during the morning, especially if I help energize them.

HOW DO I SUPPORT MY KIDNEYS?

So how do I support my kidneys?

A warm climate helps avoid the stress on my kidneys from cold weather and cold air. If I am in a colder climate, I often use a haramaki – a wrap around my waist to keep that area warm.

My diet strongly impacts my kidneys. It seems to support my kidneys when I reduce sugars and refined foods, eat more whole and unprocessed foods, eat lower on the food chain, drink lots of liquid (often warm), and have a daily dose of good dark bone broth.

Several herbal remedies help nurture my kidneys, especially some adaptogens.

I am working on my emotional issues. Since fear is behind any emotional issue, this helps reduce the generalized fear in my system and the times fear comes up more strongly, and that reduces the kidney drain that comes from fear.

Using a pendulum has been a helpful tool in pinpointing what drains and nurtures my kidneys, especially when it comes to diet.

Vortex Healing (VH) has also been immensely helpful in working on and supporting my kidneys.

With VH, I can more easily sense what’s happening with my kidneys. I can bring up the different energies related to the kidneys, especially prenatal jing, kidney essence, and the constitutional energy of the kidneys. I can optimize the energy pathways related to the kidneys. And I can optimize the function of the kidneys themselves. This has been invaluable and has helped my kidneys greatly.

When I do healing for my kidneys, I find it’s important to invite the divine within the kidneys (making up the kidneys) to reorganize to help energize and heal the kidneys. An inside-out orientation works better than an outside-in orientation (channeling from the outside-in), perhaps because its closer aligned with reality.

A CAVEAT

There is a big caveat here, and that is that I am by no means a medical expert on anything, let alone kidneys. I am not trained in nutrition, Chinese medicine, herbalism, and so on. And there is probably a lot I am missing. Also, this is just my own experience. It may well be different for you, and there are probably many things I have left out that may be as or more important than what I have mentioned here.

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Upanishads: Who sees all beings in her own self and her self in all beings, looses all fear

Who sees all beings in her own self and her self in all beings, looses all fear.

Upanishads

As usual, we can see this in a couple of different ways.

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

As a human being, the world is my mirror.

I can take whatever story I have about anyone or anything, turn it to myself, and find genuine examples of how it’s true. I can explore this systematically, for instance through The Work of Byron Katie. In this sense, I can find all beings in myself.

Similarly, whatever I know from myself, I can see or imagine in others, at the very least as a potential. I can see myself in all beings.

HAPPENING WITHIN AND AS WHAT I AM

In one sense, I am this human being in the world. But is it what I more fundamentally am, in my own immediate experience?

When I take a closer look, I find that the world to me happens within my sense fields.

And beyond this, the world to me happens within and as what I am.

I find that my nature is capacity for the world as it appears to me, and the world happens within and as what I am.

I can explore this and get a direct taste of it through Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and other forms of inquiry.

All beings and any content of experience happens within what I am. To me, all beings happen within this Self.

And since they happen within and as what I am, I see my Self in all beings. To me, all beings and all of the world has the same nature as this Self.

LOOSES ALL FEAR?

I am not sure why this quote focuses on loosing fear. Why single that out when this transforms us in so many other ways? Perhaps it makes sense in the context? Or is it a marketing strategy?

We may still have normal functional fear, for instance if we are about to fall from something high.

And the fear driven by emotional issues may indeed fall away, at least to the extent these emotional issues are transformed within this seeing.

We may notice what we are, keep noticing through different situations, and explore how to live from it. And many parts of us may still operate from separation consciousness, unloved fear, and unexamined fear-generating stories. These parts of us need to join in with the noticing, and transform within this noticing, and that can take intention and some time.

TRUE WITH SOME CAVEATS

The quote is accurate enough, in my experience.

Recognizing the world as my mirror reduces fear created by unexamined beliefs. Beliefs require duality to exist, so when we recognize the same out there and in here, they tend to soften and may even fall away.

Finding that the world, to me, happens within and as what I am does the same. It tends to dissolve unloved and unexamined fear.

The caveat is that this doesn’t happen all at once. We may have many fear-inducing beliefs that need examination. We may have many parts of us operating from separation consciousness and unloved fear.

Examining these beliefs, and inviting the different parts of us to join in with the noticing, is a process.

I suspect it’s a lifelong process. There will always be more coming up.

And that’s not wrong or bad. It’s a fascinating process.

Note: I changed “him” to “her” in the quote, just to balance it out a bit. We have had patriarchical civilizations for long enough.

Image: Three Pujarins by Jamini Roy

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Finding peace with failure in advance

I have been watching Storror videos, and love one of the mental pointers they use:

Find peace with failure in advance.

In this video, they are doing a slightly scary challenge that involves falling into the water if they fail, and one of the ways they prepare is by mentally finding peace with falling into the water. That helps remove their mental struggle with failure, and it makes it possible for them to perform with less distraction from the fear.

This is an example of using our areas of passion as a laboratory. Any area of life that we delve into deeply becomes a kind of laboratory for life.

In this case, they realize that finding peace with failure in advance helps them perform to the best of their ability. They share the pointer with others watching their videos. And they and the viewers can then apply that pointer to other areas of our own life.

In what area(s) of life am I afraid of life? What specifically am I afraid of? How is it to find peace with that fear of failure here and now? What changes when I find peace with failure in advance?

Fear of death & befriending fear

I am re-watching Ram Dass: Going Home, and find Ram Dass and his vulnerability and love very moving.

At some point, he talks about fear of death.

Most or all of us have fear around death and related issues like non-existence, pain, loss, the unknown, and so on.

We can explore these. We can imagine ourselves close to death and dying, see what comes up, and find some peace with it. (I did that a lot in my twenties.) We can learn about research into life between lives and rebirth. We can learn what different traditions say about it. We can actively work on whatever issues we have around death, loss, pain, the unknown, and whatever else is here in us. We can release tension and fear out of our body, and perhaps specifically focus on fear related to death. We can work on trusting life and finding more peace with change. And so on.

All of this can help release some of the fear that death brings up in us, and it can help us live our life now more fully.

At the same time, what comes up for me is that I cannot know. I cannot know if or how much fear of death is in me. I cannot know what will come up if or when I am faced with death in whatever way it comes. I cannot know what situations will come up related to death. I cannot know for certain any of these things, or what happens during or after death.

There is a humility here. I’ll just see what happens like everyone else. If fear comes up, that’s OK even if some parts of me thinks it’s not OK.

And this also reminds me that finding peace with fear is perhaps as or more important than working through anything that brings up fear in us, although the two are related.

Can I befriend fear? When fear comes up in my system, how do I relate to it? How is it to say YES to the fear and whatever I experience?

Center of gravity shifts into Big Mind & fear comes up

I talked with someone whose center of gravity spontaneously shifted into Big Mind yesterday, and she noticed how something in her human self was terrified of it.

Both are natural and the fear is not so unusual in a certain phase of the process.

How can we best relate to this fear?

Notice that it’s just a part of our human self that’s afraid of it. It’s not all of us and it’s something we can relate to more intentionally.

Notice that this fearful part of us already is what it’s afraid of. It is Big Mind. It is what we are. It’s afraid of its own nature, and there is a sweet innocence in that.

Listen to what this fearful part of us has to say. What is it afraid of? What is its story? What happens when we believe this? What’s more true?

Notice the sensation aspect of the fear. Notice the body sensations. Allow them to be as they are. Rest with them. Set aside any thoughts for a little while.

Identify and examine any beliefs (as mentioned above) and emotional issues behind this fear. Use whatever approach works for you.

Dialog with this fearful part and Big Mind, and perhaps even allow the two to dialog together.

Find more structured and intentional ways to shift into and explore Big Mind. This can give a sense of predictability and control – in a limited but important sense, and it can help us explore the terrain in a way that feels more safe.

For examining beliefs, I often use The Work of Byron Katie. For exploring emotional issues, Living Inquiries and Vortex Healing are both great. For dialog, Voice Dialog or the Big Mind process works well. And for shifting into Big Mind in a more intentional way, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process are both relatively simple and often effective.

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Fueling stressful stories is a form of avoidance

Fueling stressful stories is a form of avoidance.

Often, we think of avoidance as distraction, compulsion, overthinking, blame, guilt, going into ideologies, and so on.

And yet, avoidance can also be fueling scary and stressful stories. We make them more catastrophic and make them seem more real to ourselves. And that helps us avoid actually looking at it.

It helps us avoid looking closely at the scary stories and find what’s more true for us. (Which is usually more peaceful, at the very least because it’s more aligned with reality and we know it.) And it helps us avoid feeling the sensations of the fear in the body, rest with them, and allow them as they are.

Examining the stories and resting with the sensations is how these stressful stories can resolve. By avoiding them through fueling them, they tend to stay and perhaps be reinforced. And by meeting them and examining them, they can relax and our relationship with them can relax.

Feeding our fears

There are two ways to feed our fears. One makes it stronger and makes us more identified with it. The other helps it calm down and we can relate to it more consciously as a part of us (and not all of who or what we are).

In the first case, we feed the fear in the sense of fueling the fearful stories and our reactivity to it. We indulge in the scary stories. Make them more catastrophic. Make them seem more real. Avoid seriously questioning them. Indulge in our reactivity to them and whatever avoidance strategy we use.

In the second case, we feed the fear in the sense of nurturing it so it can relax. We meet it. Listen to what it has to say. Investigate the scary stories and find what’s more true for us. Notice the physical sensations in the body we call fear. Befriend it. See it comes from love and a wish to protect us. Even find love for it and for its innocence.

North Korea and the need for control

In watching a short BBC story about North Korea (Surprising images from inside North Korea), I was reminded of the need for control – and how it looks very similar in North Korea (and similar places) and in ourselves and our own lives.

North Korea is a country run by fear and they feel a need to control their citizens and anyone visiting. As the photographer in the video says, he could only visit approved locations, he had to stay in special hotels for foreigners (sometimes as the only guest), his “guides” were in the rooms next to his and emerged as soon as he opened his door, and so on.

In other words, North Korea is behaving as a terrified person. Everything needs to be controlled, often harshly. And if it’s not, there is the fear (I assume) that everything will fall apart. (That may be true. The totalitarian regime may well fall apart giving space for something else to emerge – perhaps a South Korean style modern democracy.)

Most of us have probably met people who seem a bit like this. Who tightly try to control a situation. Who seems terrified of things going “out of control” in themselves or their life.

And, if we are honest, we can probably find it in ourselves.

When am I acting like North Korea? Can I find examples of…. A time when I felt I needed to control a situation? When I desperately wanted to present a certain image of myself while keeping less savory parts hidden? When I felt a strong need to maintain a certain image? Or to maintain things the way they are? Or to avoid certain experiences I was terrified by?

In a sense, that’s the gift of North Korea. It shows us how a tightly controlled country – run by fear and through fear – looks. And, if we allow, North Korea can be a mirror for ourselves. When am I like North Korea?

What do I fear would happen if I am not like that? If I am more authentic and real and allow others to see me as I am (in all the humanness)? If I allow situations to unfold as they do with less of an attempt at tight control? How would it be to try it?

Some additional thoughts:

Why is North Korea the way it is? Of course, there are clear historical reasons (the war and connections with China etc.). Mainly, the leaders are terrified of giving the people are more free rein because it would – almost certainly – be the end of the current regime. There is a lack of trust that it would be OK or perhaps better than it is currently. Again, that fear may be justified since the few who benefit from the current regime most likely would benefit far less from a more liberal society and a democracy.

Again, that’s similar to us. We may fear that without a tight control – or attempt at control – in some situations and with some parts of ourselves, things would go haywire. We may fear to lose respect or admiration, or the image of being a certain type of person, or some perceived advantage, or perceived control over someone else or a situation.

So in exploring this, we need to address the fear, and we need to gradually find trust in ourselves – what’s in us, and in life in general. Mainly, we need to learn to trust that we are OK as we are – warts and all.

Luke Skywalker: Confronting fear is the destiny of the Jedi

Confronting fear is the destiny of the Jedi

– Luke Skywalked in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

It’s also the destiny of anyone on an awakening path. And it’s the destiny of anyone on a path of emotional healing, finding wholeness as a human being, and anyone on a path of love, authenticity, and sincerity.

The awakening process itself can be scary and requires us to meet our fear, examine it, befriend and find love for it, and eventually recognize it as consciousness or the divine itself. The awakening process also involves deep healing of our human self – so the awakening can be lived more clearly through more and more situations in daily life – and that too requires us to meet, examine, and befriend the fear that’s the gatekeeper of all emotional issues, and meet it with kindness, see it is innocent comes from a desire to protect this human self, and recognize it in immediacy as the divine.

It’s the same if we wish to find wholeness or live more from love, sincerity, or authenticity. And it’s the same if we wish to pursue our dreams or our calling. The gatekeeper is fear.

There is nothing wrong with fear. It’s not our enemy. It’s here to protect us. And through befriending and getting to know it, and seeing that it’s already who and what we are, we can relate to it more intentionally, listen to it, silently thank it for its desire to protect us and for its wisdom, and decide how to act independently of it.

We are more free to take in what it has to say and especially the grains of wisdom that may be there, while following our own best judgment based on whatever experience, wisdom, kindness, and inner knowing is here.

Addressing fear of healing: a detour that can speed up the process

When we work on deep-seated issues, there is often a fear of not only entering it but also of healing from it. This fear is a guardian of the treasure that’s there when we enter it, get to know it, and find healing for it. It’s a big part of what holds it in place.

The fear is also innocent, natural, and very understandable. It’s there to protect us. The protection is partly wise and partly a bit misguided. It’s wise since entering the issue without proper guidance can further traumatize us and make it worse. And can be a bit misguided since entering it with some guidance is what allows it to heal.

So when I work on deep-seated issues in myself or others, I often address this fear as well. If it’s strong, I may treat it as its own issue.

In a sense, this is a detour and slows down the process. In another sense, it’s what allows for a more real and deep healing of the issue. Slow is sometimes faster. What’s slow in the short run can be faster in the long run.

I often address this fear when I work with inquiry, Vortex Healing, and parts work (Big Mind process etc.).

I am scared

I am scared. 

What picture do you get when you hear that sentence? 

I see a child. 

And that says a lot. It says that in our culture, it’s OK to say I am scared when you are a child, but you are not really supposed to say it as an adult. As an adult, you are supposed to be angry, or sad, or grieve, or be frustrated, or happy, or ecstatic. And sometimes afraid, but that’s definitely more taboo. 

Why is fear more taboo? Why does it feel more vulnerable to say I am scared? I am afraid? 

My guess is because it’s more real. It’s more true. It’s more authentic. 

When I explore anger, grief, sadness, and frustration in myself, I often find fear behind it. These are often reactions to fear. 

My mind feels fear. It reacts to it. And that reaction can take the form of anger, frustration, sadness, or even grief. 

I lose something or someone important to me. It brings up fear of being alone, of missing out. And my reaction to that fear takes the form of sorrow. 

I don’t get what I want because of someone else’s actions, and I see it as unfair. I am scared because I don’t get it, and I feel out of control. And I react to that fear by going into anger. 

When I explore emotional issues for myself, mostly through inquiry, fear is often at the bottom of it. (Along with my mind believing scary stories.) And the rest – anger, frustration, sadness, grief, even elation, happiness and ecstacy – come as reactions to the fear. 

I can’t say it’s always this way, or always this way for everyone. But this is what I find. When I get close enough, I often arrive at fear. And that tends to dissolve the surface emotions and reactions. 

My suspicion is that’s why fear is more taboo. It’s more taboo for adults to admit fear. It’s too intimate. Too authentic. It doesn’t allow for our usual ways of coping with fear through anger and sadness or various compulsions. Admitting to the fear and getting close to it allows the house of cards to fall. What’s left is just nakedness. 

When I get close to fear, what then? It’s just like a scared child or animal. What it wants is to be noticed, allowed, respected, met with kindness and patience. Listened to. Often, that’s all that’s needed. (At least, at first.) 

Fear protecting beliefs, wounds, trauma

Our beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, wounds, and trauma are systems. And as all somewhat lasting systems, they have protections in place that keeps them going for a while. Until something happens that invites in a shift to something else, for instance, release, resolution, healing etc.

And within that protection is often fear. And not just any fear, but fear that’s unmet, unfelt, unloved, unallowed, and unquestioned (the story behind it).

This fear can take a few different forms. It can be fear of meeting the issue. It can be fear of what will happen if the issue is no longer there. It can be fear of meeting the fear itself, the fear protecting the issue.

So when we address a belief, emotional issue, or trauma, we’ll need  – at some point – to address this protecting fear. Often, that means to address it right away. That tends to bring some ease into the overall process.

And this also includes finding genuine appreciation for the fear. It’s there for a reason. It’s there to protect the self. It’s from kindness and love. And there is often some wisdom behind it. It’s there so we are less likely to enter traumas – small or large  – without necessary skills and experience.

It doesn’t need to go away. It just there with an invitation to meet it, allow it, find appreciation for it.

Fearless – what does it mean?

A snowboarder, Ester Ledecka, won gold in women’s Super G in the winter Olympics earlier today. As I watched her run, my mind thought fearless – that’s why she won. (In addition to technical skills and lots of practice, of course.)

What does fearless mean?

Does it mean without fear? Not really. We can act fearlessly even if there is fear. As some say, courage is to do something in spite of fear.

Does it mean not being stopped by fear? Yes, certainly. That’s a pretty good definition.

And how do we get there? How do we get to a place where we don’t stop ourselves when we experience fear? Here are some ways:

Inquire into the beliefs around fear. What are my stressful beliefs about fear, or situations triggering fear? What do I find when I investigate these beliefs? (The Work.)

Inquire into how the mind creates its experience of the fear, and the threat within the fear. Allow the bond between the sensations and thoughts (images, words) making up these charged experiences to soften and fall away. (Living Inquiries.)

Change my relationship to the fear. Dialogue with the fear. Explore how it’s here to protect me, and how it has a function and comes from care and love. (Voice Dialogue, Big Mind Process.) Use heart centered practices to befriend fear and what the fear trigger in me. (Ho’oponopono, tonglen.)

Rest with the fear. Notice and allow the sensations. Notice and allow the images and words. Rest with noticing it all. Allow it as is. Allow it as it’s changing. Notice the space it’s all happening within and as.

Act in spite of the fear. When we keep acting on something in spite of fear, and perhaps build up from action we have a small amount of fear about to those we experience more fear around, we learn that it’s OK to act in spite of fear. We shift out of the pattern of letting the fear control of. We live it. This is an essential component. 

Use therapeutic trembling (TRE) to release tension and trauma related to fear and the fear-triggering situations.

If we have access to effective energy healing, like Vortex Healing, we can use that as well. We can invite emotional issues around fear, and reactivity to it, to clear.

And, of course, it helps to feel we don’t have too much to live up to and not very strong expectations of ourself. In other words, it helps to have investigated beliefs and identifications around that too, release the charges, hold it more lightly, and invite our relationship to it to change.

Fear has a function. It’s put into us through evolution to make us appropriately cautious. And when emotional issues and reactivity to it is released, that’s when we can relate to it with more clarity. That’s when it won’t hinder us inappropriately yet still serves the function of making us take appropriate action. It helps us not take too much of a risk. In the case of Super G, it may motivate us to develop the skills needed, and make sure we have the right equipment, to give it all on the way down.

Vortex Healing story: Fear of dark

I thought I would share some Vortex Healing examples and stories.

Here is one from my own life: As a kid, I had some fear of the dark and especially when I was at the cabin. It’s by a lake, in the woods, far from the city, and without electricity. It’s a natural and common fear to have as a kid. (The tendency to be afraid of the dark is built into us through evolution.)

As an adult, I have noticed traces of this fear of the dark, and most noticeably at the cabin. If I went out in the dark at night, I would notice – and remember – the fear.

While at the cabin his summer, I did a few minutes of Vortex Healing for myself on this fear. Afterwards, I noticed it felt more neutral to go outside in the dark. That wasn’t in itself surprising. It’s what I would expect based on my experience with Vortex Healing. (It was a relatively isolated and not so strong fear, so it didn’t take long to clear.)

What was surprising happened on my next visit to the cabin. I went outside in the dark to go to the outhouse and noticed a whole new experience. Not only was the fear gone. But in its place, I experienced the animals and plants around me, and a deep sense of being part of the natural community. I was a natural part of life.

I assume this experience may have been there the whole time. I do often experience it in nature. But it had been covered up by the fear. With the fear gone, attention was available to notice this deeper sense of connection and aliveness.

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The fear behind spiritual practices

For many of us engaged in spiritual practices, or any form of healing work, there is an element of fear in our motivation. That’s usually not the whole story, and sometimes not a very large part of the story, but there may still be an element of fear there.

As usual, it’s normal, very understandable, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. The downside is that it can be stressful, and it can

It’s good to notice and be honest about any fears so we can relate to them more intentionally.

One way to explore the fear is to ask ourselves: What do I fear if I don’t do these spiritual practices? If I don’t heal? If I don’t awaken? What’s the worst that can happen?

Meet the fear with some kindness and love. With gentle curiosity. And inquire into those fears and whatever identities are threatened. How does the mind creates its own experience of the fears? What’s associated with them? How does the mind relate to it? (Living Inquiries.) What are the beliefs? And what do I find when I examine them? (The Work.)

Unless we are mainly driven by fear, this type of examination won’t remove our motivation for engaging in these practices or healing work. We’ll still do it. We’ll just experience a bit more ease in how we relate to it.

Equally important, we may be more aware of the deeper, kinder, and more genuine motivations behind it.

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Fear as the gatekeeper

Fear is often the gatekeeper to what needs to be healed or awakened.

It’s there for a reason. If we enter these areas of ourselves with insufficient skill, we risk retraumatizing and stir up things without much effective healing.

So if we trust we have sufficient skills, or work with someone who has, or we use an approach that’s less likely to retraumatize, then it’s good to address the gatekeeper along with what it protects.

If the fear is strong, we may start with the fear. We can meet it with kindness, respect, and patience.  Allow it to be there. See that it does have an important function. We can explore how it shows up in the different sense fields and see what’s associated with it (Living Inquiries). We may find a belief or identity behind it, and inquire into it (The Work). We may dialogue with it (Big Mind process).

And then we can explore what it protects, if that feels right.

This is a much gentler approach than diving right into the trauma or the emotional issue. If done well, it will feel – and be – much safer. We ease into it. We address the – genuine, understandable – fears first.

And we can do this no matter what approach we use. For me, it’s typically inquiry, subpersonality work, or energy work such as Vortex Healing. For someone else, it will probably be something else.

The more experience, skill, and understanding we have, the easier it is to approach the fear with respect, kindness, patience – and presence. It comes naturally the more we have done our own work, and the more insights we have into the dynamics. We see that the fear has a genuine and important function. We know it from ourselves. We know it comes from kindness, care for the self, and love. And that brings up a natural patience, respect, and kindness. It also tends to bring up a natural curiosity and wish to listen to it.

Note: When I write “what needs to be healed or awakened” I am aware it’s not very accurate. Another phrasing is probably better, such as “what we wish to invite in healing and awakening for”. Nothing “needs” to be healed or awakened. And we cannot “will” anything to heal or awaken. We can just invite it. We can create a situation where it’s easier for a part of us to heal and awaken. Also, when I say “healed or awakened” it’s because healing or awakening for any part of us means that it aligns more with reality. When it aligns more with reality, it tends to heal and – to the extent it aligns – awaken.

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Fear expressed as anger

I have mentioned this as an aside in other posts.

Fear can take the form of anger.

Or, rather, one response to fear is anger. And for some, anger can be a habitual response to fear.

Conversely, we can say that behind anger, is – most likely – fear.

It’s good to keep this in mind when we do any kind of exploration of anger or fear. If there is anger, is there fear behind or within it? If there is fear, does it sometimes take the form of anger?

Also, anger can take different forms besides what we, in our society, usually think of as anger. It can take the form of frustration. Blame. Harsh judgments (of self and others). Reactivity. Defense. And much more. And all of it may trace back to fear.

And fear can take a great number of forms besides anger and obvious fear. To me, it seems that a reaction to fear is behind most stressful experiences and dynamics, including going into beliefs and identifications. Our reaction to fear tends to create a wide range of different stressful experiences.

As always, these are questions. Starting points for exploration. Whatever we find is what we find, whether it fits our expectations or what’s suggested in pointers or not.

Note: I should mention that when we find the fear behind anger, identifications, etc. it often feels quite vulnerable, and as a confession. A hidden secret that we finally admit to. The anger, identifications, or whatever it may be often serve as a protection against facing this fear. So it can be helpful to explore and befriend the fear of meeting the fear.

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Love and fear

Some will tell you that fear is the opposite of love. And in this teaching the war begins. But love has no opposite, for it is whole and without division. Love is the field in which all form comes and goes, including the temporary, wavelike appearance of fear. It is the vast, tender space in which all emotions, feelings, and physical sensations arise, play for a short while, and then dissolve. Just like passing clouds could never taint the purity of the sky, the temporary dance of fear could never stain the majesty of what you are.

Matt Licata

What’s the relationship between love and fear?

I agree that fear is the opposite of love, when we buy into that fear. When we are caught up in fear, it tends to mask love from us. And we may very well act in ways that seem anything but loving.

I also agree that love encompasses fear. The love we are already allows and even is fear, as it allows and is any experience.

And I even agree that the fear vs love idea is the beginning of war, when it’s misunderstood. If we see fear as wrong or bad or something to avoid or eliminate, that’s a war we start with reality. And that’s painful, futile, and somewhat misguided.

Behind anger is fear, behind fear is caring, and behind caring is love

This is something that becomes clearer over time, especially through exploring specific issues through inquiry.

Behind anger, sadness, and compulsions is fear. Behind fear is caring. And behind that caring is love.

Said more succinctly:

Behind identifications (beliefs, velcro) is fear, and behind that fear is caring and love.

The pitfall in saying to so simply and succinctly is that the mind thinks it gets it and that such a superficial and intellectual understanding is sufficient. The benefit is that it can serve as a question to explore, and a guide when we work on ourselves and clients.

A few more details:

Identifications (holding a thought as true) is what creates stressful experiences such as struggle with anger, sadness, and compulsions. (Anger, sadness etc. can also just be here without any struggle.)

Fear is what holds identifications in place. It may be what created the identification in the first place, and it’s often what comes up when the mind considers not having that identification.

Behind fear is a deep caring. A caring for oneself and others. And caring is just another word for love.

When we see the behind all this is love, there is less of a struggle with it. And less struggle means a bit more space around it, which helps soften and release the identifications in and relating to it.

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Byron Katie: Anyone who is angry is fearful

Anyone who is angry is fearful.

– Byron Katie

That’s my experience as well. Behind anger is fear. Fearful stories create anger, fear, compulsions, and much more.

Stressful stories that we hold as true lead to fear – which can take the form of anger, sadness, or compulsions. The answer is to question these stories and hold all of it in kindness and presence.

Fear of resolution

It’s common to fear resolution, even of what we deeply wish would resolve. It could be a long-standing illness, emotional issue, painful identities or beliefs, or being unenlightened.

So it’s good to look at that fear. Notice it. Allow it. Befriend it. Look at how the mind creates its experience – using sensations and imaginations – of the fear, what it fears, and the one threatened.

What do I fear would happen if this resolves? What’s the worst that can happen? Is there something desirable I won’t have anymore?

Do I experience a threat or a problem with it resolving?

If I could push a button and have it resolve completely and immediately, what would stop me from pushing it? What would make me hesitate?

And to make sure we look at both sides:

Is there a problem if it stays? What’s the worst that can happen if it stays?

Imagine you know it will stay forever. What emotions, feelings, and thoughts come up?

And then explore the components of this sense of threat and anything related to it. The sensations, mental images, and words making it up.

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Playing it out

When I got the strong chronic fatigue a few years ago, I had a fear of never being able to work again. I saw myself alone, homeless, shunned, pitiful, suffering.

For a long time, I pushed away those images, thoughts, and feelings. I was aware of them but didn’t want to see them or go into them. That’s normal and understandable. And if it means avoiding conscious obsessing, it’s even healthy.

At some point, I realized I had to face these scary thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t avoid them anymore. So I played out the scenario. I saw myself in that situation, played it out to what I feared the most, and was present with the images and feelings. And it didn’t seem so scary anymore. I had already lived it in my imagination. It became more familiar and known. I didn’t need to spend so much energy resisting it since I had already met it and played it out.

Fear about meeting something scary in ourselves

Most of us have fear about meeting in ourselves something that seems scary.

It’s worth exploring both the physical sensations making up this fear, and also the story component.

Some stories I have found for myself:

I’ll see it’s true. I’ll see that the scary story – about myself, life – is true.

It will be overwhelming. Too much. I won’t be able to handle it.

It won’t work.

I won’t do it right. I don’t have what it takes to do it right. (The skills, experience, capacity etc.)

The facilitator won’t do it right. He/she don’t have what it takes to do it right.

It won’t go away even if it’s done right.

It’s not the right time. I am not in the right space.

It will get worse. Facing it will make it worse.

I’ll be judged…. by myself and/or the facilitator. It will trigger guilt and shame. I won’t be able to deal with this guilt and shame.

It’s often helpful to identify and explore these scary stories at some point, typically before entering what we have the scary story about.

The symptoms of this fear can come in the form of avoidance, resistance, restlessness, distraction, frustration, anger and more. And when we look a little closer, there may be a very understandable fear there that can be met and explored.

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Kindness to the resistance

There is often some resistance to our experience, some fear, some wish for it to be different.

There is unmet, unloved, and unquestioned fear about some part of our experience, and that takes the form of resistance and wanting it to be different. It’s completely innocent, understandable, and nearly universal. It may happen for most of us most of the time, even if it’s subtle.

If the resistance is not noticed or explored, then there is often unconscious identification with it. We take on the perspective of that resistance and the fear behind it, and we may not even notice it’s happening.

The remedy is to notice and have some gentle curiosity about it.

Is there any restlessness, any wish to be somewhere else or do something else, any compulsion to think or do something else? Is there any wish for parts of my experience to be different?

Where in my body do I feel it? Rest with those sensations. Notice the space it’s happening within, and that’s also within the sensations. Notice any images or words connected with the sensations, rest with these too, and return to the sensations.

Rest with it in kindness.

You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you. (Ho’o.)

We can also do some gentle mining.

If the sensation could speak, what would it say?

What do the sensations mean?

What’s my earliest memory of feeling that way?

Often, I will just rest with the sensations and whatever images and words come up. If it seems helpful, I may ask a few simple inquiry questions just to clarify what’s here. For instance, an image may come up, I sense it feels like a problem or a threat, so I can ask if it is.

When the fear underlying the resistance is unmet, unloved, and unquestioned, there is that unconscious identification with it and its scary story about my experience, myself, and the world. As soon as the resistance or fear is noticed, there is some distance to it and some disidentification. There is room to relate to it more intentionally and with kindness and curiosity. There is room to give it what it wants, which is often to be met with kindness, allowed as it is, held in presence, understood, treated with respect.

Note: I realize I took the reasons for exploring this as a given, and only addressed it indirectly above. I see two reasons. One is that being unconsciously identified with scary stories means I perceive through this filter and live as if these scary stories are true, or at least somewhat true. That can create some problems in my life. I may live and act in ways I wouldn’t if there was more clarity around the fear. Also, being identified with scary stories is in itself uncomfortable. Resting with what’s there, and see more clearly the components making it up, allows it to soften and relax.

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The command for it to be different 

I have experienced the primal fear again off and on for the last several weeks. The sensations themselves are fine, it’s the stories associated with them that make it seem uncomfortable and sometimes overwhelming. And since it sometimes feels overwhelming, there is also a want here for it to change and for the discomfort – and the primal fear – to go away.

Here are the notes from a brief inquiry on this want for it to be different, or go away.

Where do you feel the primal fear? In the face, chest, and some in throat and belly.

Feel those sensations. Rest with them. Are any images or words coming up? Yes, an image of me with something dark in me (the dread and fear), and next to it me clear (lighter, without that experience).

Look at that image. Rest with it. Notice the space around it, and between the image and you. Is that image a want or command for it to be different? (Q1) Yes, I feel it in my face, throat, and chest.

Feel those sensations. Rest with the physical sensations. (I did some amplify/release here too.) The words “I want it to be different” come up.

Look at those words. Q1? Yes, belly, face, forehead, throat.

Rest with those sensations. (I am saying these words a few times to the sensations until I feel it: You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.) (I am then resting with the sensations for quite a while.)

Are those sensations a want or command for it (the fear) to be different? No. They are here but I experience them quite differently, and as physical sensations.

The want for the fear to go away is a big part of the discomfort and suffering around this. That’s why it can be very helpful to explore it in inquiry, to befriend it, to see how the mind creates its experience of this want through sensations, mental images, and words, and to rest with the sensations for quite a while after most or all of the images and words have been sifted through.

Note: With a client, I would typically start with an image or words, perhaps the words they used such as I want this fear to go away, I want my experience to be different. When I ask the inquiry question about images or words, the client will see if there are any bodily reactions to the questions. When the client then rests with sensations, just wait and see if images or words surface on their own and then look at them. Asking the inquiry question about a sensation is sometimes too direct, and it can be difficult for the client to find what gave them a “yes”, so it’s often gentler and easier to just rest with the sensations, see if any images or words surface on their own, and then look at them.

Awakening & deep, primal and visceral fear

There is a quite common pattern of (a) an opening or awakening, and (b) a deep primal fear happening in connection with each other. Some experience the deep, primal and visceral fear first, and others the opening or awakening first.

For me, there was an initial awakening without the fear, then a second one followed by that primal fear that was more a dread and terror. It was very strong for about nine months and has surfaced now and then – or stayed relatively stable at a lower level – for some years after.

I see it as related to trauma, and a very primal survival fear, and the two go hand in hand and are really the same. Some say it comes up since the imagined self fears for its life. It goes when there is a more clear awakening so it naturally fears for its life. (There isn’t any “it” there to fear for its life, but the mind makes it seem and feel that way through velcro and beliefs.) That may be true enough. The other reason, which makes as much or more sense to me, is that for the human self to deeply heal, that deep primal survival trauma needs to surface and find healing. This allows that part of the human self to realign more consciously with reality, with this new context of all as presence, love, Spirit, or the Divine.

Having this primal fear surfacing has been among the most challenging experiences of my life. It feels like every fiber in me resists it, and yet I know that what’s called for is meeting it in presence, feeling the sensations, and look at the imaginations connected with it. It’s been a long and difficult process for me.

It does feel like something just needs to run its course. Even as I also work with what comes up in a more intentional way.

This primal fear calls for a few different things, and what it is may be different for each of us and at different times in our process. For instance, it may be meeting it with presence, kindness, and patience. Exploring the associated mental images and words. (As mentioned above.) Recognizing it as coming up to protect the imagined self and coming from love. And the presence and love recognizing itself as this fear and trauma, surfacing in that form right now.

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Meet it more intentionally

A few days ago, I had a sense of dread and fear in my belly.

I recognized that feeling from going to elementary school. I sometimes had it walking to school in the mornings.

Back then, I didn’t know what to do about it. Nobody had shown me.

And now, somebody has shown me and I can relate to it more intentionally. I can meet with presence, kindness, allowing, patience. I can give it what it really needs and wants. I can meet it as it wishes to be met. And that makes all the difference.

It’s such a simple shift, and it changes the situation from feeling victimized by that dread to befriending it.

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Beating around the bush 

It’s very common to beat around the bush in inquiry and most other forms of healing work.

We work on the more peripheral or immediate issues, and hold off working on the deep, scary, and more core issues.

There are good and sane reasons for this. We want to feel that we can trust the process and the person guiding it – whether it’s ourselves or a facilitator – before we get into the deep stuff. If we dive into it too soon, without proper guidance or  understanding of how to work with it, we can easily retraumatize.

There may also be fear preventing us from going into the deeper issues, fear that’s unmet, unquestioned, and unloved. And it can be very helpful to look at this fear. What do I find when I explore the elements making up this fear? What shoulds do I have about not meeting these deeper issues, or about meeting them? What deficient selves do I find, either when I consider facing the deeper issues, when I find myself scared of doing so, or if I look at the deeper issues themselves? Looking at these deficient selves is often easier than diving right into the traumatic memories.

Looking at these things helps bring us to a place where we more sanely can evaluate whether we want to dive in deeper or not, and whether we trust the process and the guidance enough to do so.

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Current situation colored by what it triggers

Today, the primal survival fear is alive in me again. It’s quite familiar now, as it’s been visiting off and on since the darkest phase of the dark night of the soul set in. (I am calling it “the dark night of the soul” just as a shorthand, knowing that it’s a label with a lot of assumptions that have some but limited validity.)

It feels primal and ancient. Some of it may be passed on through family dynamics. Some from epigenetics. Some perhaps from past lives. Who knows. What I know is that it seems primal, ancient, and universal – something that’s a shared experience for perhaps all mammals and even other groups of animals.

I also see how it does what triggered traumas often do. It colors my experience of my current situation. It makes certain things seem really scary, while the reality is that they don’t quite warrant that level of fear. The more I can notice what’s happening, rest with the physical sensations of the primal fear, and notice the associated images and words, the more I am able to notice that coloring, and the more I notice the scary stories my mind creates based on the coloring. It helps me differentiate and relate to it all – the primal fear, the coloring, my current life situation – more consciously.

Amplify / release and getting to see it’s not as scary as it seems

I enjoy exploring the amplify / release technique.

Notice a body contraction, or an uncomfortable experience of any type. (Discomfort, restlessness, cravings, fear, anger, sadness, physical or emotional pain, a body contraction.)

Amplify it. Make it stronger. Do this for about 10 seconds. (Intend to make it stronger, whether you are able to actually make it stronger or not.)

Release. Relax. Take a full breath. Maybe hum a tune. Do this for 10 seconds.

Repeat a few times. Notice what, if anything, happens.

Several things happen here.

We bring attention to the discomfort. This brings it out of the habitual (and often stressful) thoughts reacting to or fueling it.

We get to notice how we intentionally make it stronger. We may bring up or strengthen certain images or words, we may contract the muscles in the area of the sensations or body contraction.

We get to see the imaginations and sensations making up the discomfort is perhaps not as scary as it initially seemed. As long as we avoid it, we reinforce the idea that it’s scary, and the experience of it as scary. When we meet it, we get to see more closely what’s really there (imaginations and sensations), and that it’s not as scary as it initially seemed.

Each of these helps us shift our relationship to it and befriend it more genuinely. It may also help the charged combination of imaginations and sensations soften its charge.

This, in turn, makes it easier to continue to rest with it and explore the different elements making it up.

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Pink cloud

When we are on a healing or awakening path we can find ourselves on a “pink cloud” for a while.

It’s understandable since many of us – at least partly – are on this path to escape suffering.

What are some of the ways we can create a pink cloud for ourselves?

Assuming or thinking there is very little or nothing left for us to work on. Either in terms of healing, maturing, or awakening, or in terms of how we live this.

What we fear: To encounter more pain. To have to continue to work on it.

Thinking that we are in a (desired) state that will last or only get better.

What we fear: To encounter pain again. To be out of control in terms of our life and experience.

Thinking that we “get it” while others don’t.

What we fear: To be ordinary. Just like anyone else. To not be special, unique.

I am sure there are many more varieties.

What’s the remedy?

To notice and face our fear. To feel it and inquire into the stories we use to create the fear for ourselves.

To recognize that by trying to avoid our fear we only create more suffering for ourselves.

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Fearlessness – what is it?

What is fearless? What does it mean to be fearless?

Does it mean to be without fear? Clearly not, since fear – and emotions in general – is not something we can chose to experience or not. They live their own life. They are guests, coming and going.

I may see it as pushing the fear away, setting it aside, or distract from or ignore it. That works to some extent, but it’s still there and not really examined or addressed.

I can also acknowledge the fear, allow it, feel it, and do something anyway. I can learn to act in spite of fear. (Mountaineers and others often talk about it, and use their activities as a way to explore and practice this.)

I can dialog with fear. Get to know it. Listen to it. Hear what it has to say. Explore how we relate to it. Learn to acknowledge and listen to it and treat it with respect instead of ignoring or mistreating it. We can listen to its wisdom, take it into account, and act from being informed by the wisdom of the fear. In one case, fear may say, “don’t ski down that hill so fast”, I listen and slow down. In another case, fear may say “don’t speak up, you’ll make a fool of yourself and they won’t like you”, and I still chose to speak.

I can examine the fearful thoughts. What are they? What are the underlying assumptions? Is it true? Can I know for sure it’s true? What happens when I believe it? Who would I be without it? What’s the validity in each of the turnarounds? (The Work.)

I can notice and allow the fear. I can notice the sensations and associated images and words. I can feel the sensations. I can notice the space around and inside of my body, and around and inside of the sensations of fear. I can notice any resistance to the fear, and feel those sensations too. (Natural Rest.) This in itself can be helpful, and also sets the context for further inquiry.

I can examine how my mind creates its experience of fear. What sensations are there? What imaginations (images, words) are associated with these sensations? How does my mind create its experience of the fear its? Of the threat? Of the command to be afraid or not be afraid? Of the command to not do something because of the fear, or so something because of the fear? Of the command to do something in spite of the fear, or the command to not do something in spite of the fear? (Living Inquiries.)

Through the four or five last ones, my relationship with fear changes. From seeing it as an enemy and a problem, I may come to see it as a friend. I may befriend it. It’s not a problem anymore, and not something that needs to go away. My struggle with it is reduced or ceases, and that makes a big difference. My struggle with it is what creates stress and discomfort. It’s what may make me act on it automatically, or feel paralyzed by it. When I explore it, I can relate to it in a more intentional way.

Often, there is a mix of many of these. Sometimes I do one, other time something else. And over time, I may shift into doing the four or five last ones more habitually. The more I do it, the easier and more natural it becomes.

Personally, I shift between all of these. Sometimes, I act on or feel paralyzed by fear. Sometimes, I try to ignore it or distract myself from it. Sometimes, I act in spite of it. Sometimes, I examine my fear-inducing thoughts. Sometimes, I rest with the fear while noticing what’s there. Sometimes, I examine how my mind creates its experience of the fear.

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Dream: Befriending fear

I see clearly how I perceive everything as a threat, sank into it, and my relationship to it changed completely. I befriended it, and it became sweet and blissful.

For the last several days, I have been more acutely aware of how I perceive everything as a threat (at a certain level). I have explored the sensation part of it, as well as looked at some related images (dark overlay over everything) and words (“dread”). In the dream, I could see this more clearly, something gave in me so it was completely allowed and I sank into it, and something shifted. The dream gave me (another) taste of how it can be, and it’s as always an ongoing exploration.

What are my fears of allowing these fears? What’s the worst that can happen? And the worst that can happen if that happens?

How would it be to allow it as it is? How would it be to sink into it?

How does my mind create the sense of threat? What sensations, images, and words make it up?

How does my mind create a sense of someone threatened? What are the sensations, images, and words making it up?

How is to isolate out the sensations and feel these as sensations? Resting with it? Staying with it? Noticing associated images and words, but not paying them too much attention until later?

How is to feel the sensations of the fear of the fear? The resistance to feeling and allowing the fear more fully?

Cartoon: What can we do to lessen the grip of fear from terrorism?

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This may seem like denial, but the reality is that most of us are very safe from terrorism. It’s a negligible threat compared with unhealthy habits, car use, international regulations that favor corporations over people and nature etc. It’s focused on by the media because fear sells, and it’s more easily graspable than many of the other threats that are more significant but also more hidden because they happen somewhere else, are slow acting, or we are used to them. And some politicians use terrorism and fear to push through policies they have long wanted to push through for other reasons. (As we saw very clearly in the US after 911.)

Fear and identification

When I was in training to become a Living Inquiry facilitator, I would ask the is a threat question whenever I sensed there could be a threat or fear connected to a particular image, word or sensation. Whenever I checked in with myself, I could usually find a threat or fear connected to any velcro (any belief, identification). I learned to dial this back a bit since I seemed to perceive threats where others didn’t. That may partly be because of my PTSD which tends to bring the whole system on high alert so threats are perceived just about anywhere.

And yet, I still wonder if fear is not behind or connected with just about any velcro, belief or identification. Why would the glue be there if not for fear? At the very least, there is fear about how it is to live without any particular velcro or identification.

It also seems that the velcro is often initially created through fear, and then recreated through fear in the moment. It may not be obvious, but when I look I find it for myself.

Rainer Maria Rilke: Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love

Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Yes, that’s my experience.

What frightens me is already what I am. It’s part of me. It happens within and as me.

And what that part of me wishes for is being respected, loved, listened to, intentionally allowed. It’s very much like a frightened animal.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t act when life and the situation calls for it. I’ll still act in an as kind and wise way as I am able to. For instance, I’ll still support putting some people in prison, although treating them with respect, as fellow human beings, and – if necessary or possible – supporting their transition into more helpful members of society. It’s not about being naive or passive in how we relate to our life and the world. It’s about finding kindness towards the parts of ourselves that are unloved, and also that in the world which is unloved. And the two are really the same.

 

Why is there ambivalence in identifications?

Why is there often ambivalence in how we relate to our identifications?

Identification here means identification with a story. The story is held as real and true. And we identify with its view on ourselves and the world. When it’s activated, we take it as who and what we are.

From my own experience, it seems that identifications are held in place in two ways. There is a perceived threat (a) in not holding onto it, and (b) in holding onto it. We fear what may happen if it’s not there, and are also uncomfortable with what happens when it’s there.

There is a perceived benefit in having it, and also a threat in not having it. And when the identification is here, it’s often apparently enjoyable since it fulfills those needs. And it’s also uncomfortable, since identifications are inherently stressful and at odds with reality.

That ambivalence is partly what distracts us so we don’t see what’s really going on.

That’s why it’s good to look at both sides to how we relate to our identifications. To slow it down, and look more systematically at first one side, then the other.

As mentioned in a previous post, I (may) feel compelled to eat sugar, and also feel ashamed about it. I feel I am unlovable, and experience a threat in not having that identity while it’s also painful when it’s here. I want recognition and approval by many, while also experiencing it as a threat. I identify with a story of the world as a threat, and it’s also threatening to imagine that belief not being here.

Looking at both sides of whatever has charge

It can be helpful to look at both sides of whatever has a charge for us.

I may fear not having what I want, and also fear having it.

I may hold onto a deficiency story, and also want it to go away.

I may be compelled to do something, and also feel ashamed about it.

I may experience a threat, and also being someone who is threatened.

Whenever there is an identification, there seems to be an ambivalence about it. I want to hold onto it, and also have it go away. I fear what may happen if it’s not there, and I am uncomfortable with what happens when it’s there.

So why not look at both sides?

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