There are many ways to address fear and anxiety but one of the most
profound is found in Cheri Huber's "The Fear Book:," inspired by Zen
Buddhism. Here are the lessons that I have learned from this book :
Fear and Anxiety: The Bad News
Everyone experiences fear and anxiety. In fact, fear and anxiety can be helpful emotions that signal
when we are in danger or when something is wrong in our lives. Unfortunately fear and anxiety can
also be paralyzing emotions that stop us from living our lives. Fear and anxiety can make our worlds
smaller. We stop driving on freeways or going on planes. We avoid crowds and new social situations.
Fear and Anxiety: The Good News
The good news is that there are many approaches to reducing fear, including Huber's Zen
Buddhist approach. The following principles, based on Huber's "The Fear Book," can help
you understand, accept and let go of your anxiety and fear. True courage is a process of
self-awareness, wisdom and perseverance.
Lesson # 1 : You are not your fear.
This is the most fundamental principle of fear from a Buddhist perspective. Often
when people are afraid, they unconsciously make fear part of themselves.
For example, people often say "I'm not good in
social situations" or "I don't like traveling." The first
step towards reducing fear is to be able to label fear
and realize that you are not a "fearful person."
Lesson # 2 : The stronger the fear, the closer you are to the truth.
The more intense the experience of fear, the closer you are to the core fear. For example,
say that you are petrified of public speaking. Are you really afraid that you will embarrass
yourself and look like a fool? Are you afraid you have nothing worthwhile to say? Use the
strength of fear to guide you deeper towards the truth.
Once you hit the core fear, try putting
it into perspective. It is often helpful to
ask yourself, "What is the worse that
can happen?" Since the answer is
usually not dire, one can see fears
and anxieties more rationally.
Lesson # 3 : Other emotions such as anger and sadness may
actually be fear.
Fear has many faces. Whenever you feel a strong emotion, see if fear is hidden underneath.
For example, you may be angry when you get turned down for a job. Is it really anger or are
you afraid that you are not good enough?
Examine each emotion and see
if it is really fear. Ask yourself,
"What am I afraid of?"
Lesson # 4 : Everytime we avoid fear, fear gets stronger.
Often the natural reaction to experiencing fear is to protect ourselves from it. We chose
not to go to the party that makes us uncomfortable. We chose not to try a new activity,
such as rowing or salsa dancing in order to avoid the discomfort of fear and anxiety.
Unfortunately this strengthens fear
and the likelihood that we will avoid
more activities. Try small steps
towards doing something scary. Move
forward at a comfortable pace by
breaking a task into components.
Lesson # 5 : If you do not believe what fear tells you, your fear
will become smaller.
The trick to overcoming fear and anxiety is not to believe what it tells you. For example, if you
want to travel alone but fear is telling you that you can't do it, don't believe these thoughts.
Fear is very persuasive and it can be difficult to distinguish fear from who you are.
It also helps to develop statements
to counteract fear. For example, tell
yourself how capable you are, how
you can travel safely alone or how
excited you are about travelling.
Lesson # 6 : A Calm Mind Can't Be Fearful
Fear and anxiety are natural states of emotion. However, when they take
over your life, they develop a life of their own. Fortunately, fear and anxiety
can be worked with.
A Zen Buddhist approach focuses on the mind to unveil the ultimate delusion of
fear: that it is who you are. Fear is often an unwelcome visitor. Remember you
can't chose feeling fear but you can choose when to leave it at the door.
Huber, Cheri. The Fear Book U.S.A.:
Keep it Simple Books, 1995.
The whole secret of existence is
to have no fear. Never fear what
will become of you, depend on
no one. Only the moment you
reject all help are you freed.
Thank You Very Much