Where Has Fear Tied You Down? »

By Rev. Dr. Terry Drew Karanen

Has fear stopped you from doing what you want to do in life? Fears of many kinds can stop us from living life to the fullest. Much of the trepidation around change in our lives stems from a foundation of fear. We may appear to deal well with situations in our lives, yet we worry about the outcome.

There are reasons to have some healthy fears around certain situations, though perhaps fear is not really the term we’re looking for. Healthy respect is probably more accurate.

You may have heard that the word fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.

Here’s an example: When we are faced with the challenge of approaching someone about a matter, we may convince ourselves the communication will upset them. Whether it’s the process of getting up the courage to let a friend know we have failed to follow through or telling our spouse we forgot to mail the mortgage payment, our mind chatter can create numerous scenarios of the outcome — none of which are in our favor, or necessarily true.

When we muster up the courage to follow through by approaching the other person, however, we may find the response quite different. One year over the Christmas holidays I accidentally knocked into a cabinet in the kitchen causing a ceramic cup to go crashing to the floor. I assumed it was a family heirloom of my husband’s — other things on the shelves were — and spent the good part of the day fretting about it. Imagine my shock when he laughed and told me the cup was purchased at an antique store for less than two dollars. I anguished all afternoon over something turned out to have no significance.

Conversely, if we place ourselves in dangerous situations, then a little well-placed, healthy respect is fitting. Our bodies have the ability to release an appropriate hormonal response when it is necessary for us to react more quickly than normal. Seldom, however, is this required on a daily basis. We don’t need the kind of reactions that our ancestors needed when avoiding dangerous animals. Yet our bodies can immediately produce what we need to create a physical response similar to exactly that, though for completely different reasons.

Fears we hold onto throughout our lives — real or imagined — tie us down. We can’t live fully when we are walking the planet in constant fear of something. Yet fears of many kinds are quite common. Psychiatrists and psychologists refer to them as phobias — intense, persistent irrational fears.

The website Phobialist.com includes more than 530 different phobias, and this list continues to grow. What all phobias have in common is that they interfere with normal living.

The fears we have may not be diagnosable, mental health conditions, but that doesn’t make them any less powerful in tying us down in some area of our life. Since many of the fears we have are imagined, and often feed into our own insecurities about our abilities or appearance, we have the ability to change our thinking about them.

Faith Misplaced

Dr. Ernest Holmes had something to say about problems that also applies to our fears. Holmes wrote we ought not to be so cruel as to say to a person with a problem that there are no problems. Our reality is as real as we need it to be. The question that we must ask ourselves in this case is: How real do I want my problem to be?

Holmes also gave us an excellent definition of irrational fear:

But what is fear? Nothing more nor less than the negative use of faith … faith misplaced.

In other words, we are believing in — having faith in — a lie instead of the truth. We don’t even state our fears accurately! You might say you’re afraid of heights. But when did a height ever physically harm anyone? What you’re really afraid of is falling to your death.

Another person might say she’s afraid of flying. Can you think of any instance when an airplane  set out to injure a passenger all on its own? Of course not. She’s not afraid of flying; she’s afraid of dying in a plane crash. Statistically it’s safer to fly than to use other modes of transportation. That’s a quantifiable fact based on decades of air travel. But while facts are logical, fears often are not.

There was a young man who had a terrible fear of enclosed places. In an unrelated conversation his mother laughingly mentioned a time he was trying to get a toy out from under the couch and got his head stuck. He questioned her about that and found out that the experience terrified him so much that he wouldn’t go near that piece of furniture for weeks.

Another woman was more than startled by loud noises; she would break out in a cold sweat, her heart would race, which then led to a full panic attack. In a completely unrelated conversation about parenting, her father mentioned how much guilt he and her mother carried around after leaving her asleep in the back of their station wagon one time on a cross-country trip. They’d been traveling for hours and stopped at a diner in the middle of the desert late one night for something to eat. Their daughter had finally fallen asleep, so they left her in the car believing that the car wouldn’t get too hot in the cool night air, and knowing they could watch the car out the window of the diner. A freight train thundering down the railroad tracks next to the diner woke the little girl in a panic, unaware of where she was, or why she was all alone.

There are always reasons for our reactions. Some of these outcomes are totally of our own making. We made a choice; consequences or rewards followed. Other circumstances put us in unfamiliar territory. Out of some fear of the outcome we may respond before we gather enough information. Whatever the case, we don’t want our fears to stop us from having the life we desire.

Feeling Excited And Ready

Holmes knew that our experiences are as real as we make them. When speaking about physical perfection in “The Science of Mind” textbook, he stated it this way:

We are not so cold-blooded as to say to a person with pain that there is no such thing as pain. … We admit the fact. It is quite a different thing to admit its necessity.

A fear of spiders, for example, may or may not affect your life if you’re a bank teller. But if you choose gardening as a profession you might want to deal with that fear. Before we can deal with anything, however, we must have the courage to admit we have a fear. And we need to be strong enough to ask for help if necessary.

An excellent way to move through fear and anything else that may seem to be stopping us the use of affirmative prayer, spiritual mind treatment or simply treatment.

Centers for Spiritual Living offers trained, licensed practitioners of this form of prayer, available by phone and email. Additionally, you can find a practitioner, minister or center through links on the Centers for Spiritual Living website: www.CSL.org. There, if you’re unfamiliar with treatment, you’ll also find information on how to give yourself a treatment.

The next time fear of a challenge or change appears in your life, take a moment to approach it with childlike wonderment and excitement. Yes, taking responsibility and facing challenges can be scary, but only if we allow it to be so. My friend, Marie, once shared a new acronym with me for the word fear: Feeling Excited And Ready.

You are the result of Divine Intention creating a unique expressing of Itself. Within you is the power of the universe, a dynamic force that exceeds the power of the surf or the explosion of a supernova. There is nothing that can tie you down, least of all fear. Know that. Believe that. And if you currently lack the faith that this is so, know that you can borrow the faith I have in you to reach and exceed all your hopes, dreams and goals. You are the light and you are loved.

Terry Drew Karanen is a speaker and award-winning author. You can find his weekly blog at Blog.TerryDrewKaranen.com. He is also the director of Spirit, Mind and Body Foundation, a virtual ministry. For more information, visit Facebook.com/TerryDrewKaranen.