Fear and Mindless Choices

A while ago I had a dream. In it, I was talking to someone about whether he wanted to make fear based choices. Then, I said how that can be tricky because most – maybe even 90% – of our fears are unconscious. I’ve been pondering this off an on since the dream. Maybe it’s because I rarely have dreams like that, so when I remember a meaningful one, I try to pay attention.

Life presents us with ongoing opportunities. Often, we are aware that we need to make a choice. Part of the process of making conscious choices involves evaluating and understanding what fears accompany our options. In times like these, I acknowledge my fears yet remain aware that I do not want to a make fear based decision. I try to separate out my neuroses from my intuition by recognizing that fear is not my soul response. Whatever the outcome, at least I know that I try to follow my spirit instead of running in avoidance.

What keeps floating through my awareness after the dream is: How we make choices all day long – both consciously and reflexively – and how often these choices can be fear based without our knowing it. I am learning more and more that it’s the small ongoing decisions that we make all day, everyday that make up our lives and create how we are. Major changes like jobs, homes, relationships, and so on have an impact on shaping our lives. Significant shifts are like the structural foundation of our life styles. It’s the day to day, smaller decisions that really bring the framework to life. The choices we make regarding how we move from moment to moment – what we fill up ourselves and our lives with – that add the paint, décor, and furnishings. It’s the details that transform a house into a home.

I don’t want to exaggerate the importance of every detail of my life. However, if I am to be authentic, then I must also acknowledge that I am making choices all day long that are not mindful. Whether it’s from habit, avoidance, healthy or unhealthy, it is too easy to simply do without being aware of what is driving the action. Underneath these choices may be unconscious fear. Even when I am aware, I can still choose the mindless path in order to avoid facing underlying fears. Fear of discomfort and insecurities that may be lurking in the shadows.

El Alto Parade, Bolivia
Image by szeke

Fear is similar to anger in that it’s what I call a blanket emotion. Both are a reaction to underlying pain. They are not the source. The source or root is found by looking under the covers and asking: What am I afraid of? Or, why am I angry?

It’s not the fear that is the problem. It’s our fear of fear. A fear of having to face some sense of inadequacy, lack of worth, feeling undeserving, and discomfort with that which is unfamiliar. It is so easy to convince ourselves to believe that fear is some horrible demon that is out to get us and presents a genuine threat to our well-being. I’m not talking about a genuine flight or flee response. I’m referring to the everyday, ongoing sense of threat that hides in our subconscious.

When we enable fear, rationalizing usually follows in the form of messages that are disempowering. I can’t do anything about that, it’s beyond my control, it’s just the way I am. The truth is: Not only can we do something about our state of being; we are the only ones that can. We create our fears, so we are the only ones who can tame them. We are stronger than our fears.

I think fear is a sign post to healing. Instead of feeling threatening and out of control, we can empower ourselves by creating space for healing. When we allow fear to be seen and heard, we can go to the root cause. The need to create ongoing suffering born from defense mechanisms that send us off to distraction diminishes. We can bring our awareness into the present. We gather our energy and step into genuine power.

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