Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fear & The Empath

Fear...what a huge topic, particularly for us, right? It can plague your entire world with havoc at times. Or it can be as small as an echoing whisper in your ear, that forces you to step back, when you are about to achieve something and/or succeed. And often times, when this happens, we tend to blame it on bad fortune or being unlucky. We might even attempt to deny what happened through indifference, delusions, and/or denial. We do this without realizing there is an underlying pattern of fear within us, which forces us to stand immobile in stagnant waters, instead of allowing us to move forward in our lives.

The Definition

But let me digress a bit here, and offer up two definitions of fear, and some of the types of fear that can rise out of us. Fear has a number of definitions. One of them is this:
A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger. Another is this: Extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power. Needless to say, the definition of fear we will focus on in this blog, is the first definition, and what it has to do with each of us in turn.

The Root

There are a number of different types of fear, but before we venture into the infinite depths of that topic, we should look at one more thing, the root of fear (despite what type of fear it is). Here is a great quote I found at Tharpa.com "The cause of all fear is self-grasping ignorance, and all the delusions, such as selfishness, attachment and anger, arise from that ignorance,as well as all the unskillful actions motivated by those delusions."

Essentially what this means, is that when we imagine ourselves and the external world, that resides all around us, as a reality independent of our inner perception, we end up living in ignorance of our own selfishness and needs. Another way to put it is that we take all of the things that terrify us, such as the truth of ourselves and the reality around us, and bury it in a box, so we do not have to face the truth bound within that box. We live in denial and practice avoidance at all costs, all for the singular purpose to remain in a life of ignorance. But ignorance of this type, most certainly is not bliss. In fact, it tends to leave its bearer immobilized and unable to move forward in their life. And because it is a wound that can not heal, because it is not acknowledged and given the chance to do so, it can fester within people, causing emotions such as bitterness, envy, anger, and/or depression. It can leave one feeling as though there is something missing within themselves, an insatiable hole that nothing can fill. And here, it can be perceived as emptiness.

The Types

There a great many types of fear, so here we will only go over a few, which, more often than not, we all suffer from at some point in our lives.

The first type is a paradox which most Empaths tend to be able to relate to well. It is the fear of intimacy and the fear of rejection. Both of these types of fear, stem from the same place, and generally end up with the same results, as well. The root of these fears is that of a threat to ones self image and a lack of self worth.

The fear of rejection makes us afraid to be assertive in our interpersonal relations with others, which results in a need to please, placate, and heal others, even when it is beyond our limits to do so. This is done because we have a very fragile self image that is based upon the good opinions of others, instead of self evaluated worth. So rejection, in the case of this type of fear, would be a threat to our self image.

Fear of intimacy, at its roots, stems from the very same place the fear of rejection does. Because we only share an external mask of our true selves, which is carefully cultivated to express the type of person we want people to believe we are, with most people, there is a great deal of underlying fear when we allow anyone to step to close. This is hinged partially on the fear of rejection, upon their discovery of who we truly are beneath the mask. As Empaths, we have the added bonus of fear of being overwhelmed by all of the emotions that come with an intimate relationship, be it family, friends, and/or lovers.

The last one we will cover here is the fear of selfishness. From a very young age most people have had the need for piety and altruism thrust upon themselves. They have been taught selfishness is wrong and pride is a sin. And while its true that to much of either of these, can do more damage than good, when they are tempered with things like piety, humility, and altruism, balance is born. The fear of selfishness is the denial of true self to cultivate the mask of ego we share with the world. But in its own paradox, the fear of selfishness can bring forth things like prejudice and hate which are born out of the embittered illusion of piety, altruism, and tolerance. In other words, the fear of selfishness, can push a person into becoming self serving, with a superficial covering of those better qualities, and an innate ability to rationalize away those people and situations which do not measure worthy enough to be helped.

Here is a more in depth list of fear types. It was taken from this page:

- abandonment
- being bad, corrupt, evil, defective
- being controlled by others
- being deprived
- being harmed
- being incapable
- being of no value, worthless
- being unloved
- being useless
- change
- conflict
- death
- defeat
- diminishment, decline
- disease
- doing wrong
- failure
- fragmentation
- hurting others
- ignorance
- incompetence
- incorrect decisions
- injury
- insecurity
- invasion of boundaries
- isolation
- lack
- limitation
- loneliness
- looking stupid
- loss
- loss of connection
- material loss
- meaninglessness
- no identity
- pain
- people
- personal insignificance
- possessiveness
- poverty
- public speaking
- rejection
- relationships
- responsibility
- self-exposure
- self-expression
- selfishness
- separation
- sexuality
- shyness
- success
- support, guidance
- truth, God, duty, being oneself
- unknown
- vulnerability

Healing The Fear

Healing one's own fears can take......well as long as it takes, if we are honest. It could be hours, days, months, or even years. But that does not negate the positive aspects that rise out of both the healing of your fears, and the journey to achieve that healing. It is a worthwhile endeavor for you, and the people you surround yourself with and are close to.

The first step one must take to heal their own fear (and before they can help others heal their own fears) is to acknowledge your fears. They are a part of you, even if you choose not to show them to the world. And denying them does nothing more than hurt yourself. We all have limits, some of which are set forth by those fears we tend to deny. So when we hit a roadblock, and can not move forward, we have no understanding of why we keep hitting the same wall, no matter how much time passes.

The second step is learning to embrace your own emotions, even the darker emotions. When we deny those darker emotions, we also deny the reasons for those emotions. Anger, self loathing, depression, shame, envy, bitterness, jealousy.....and the list could go on and on. When you learn to embrace the emotions, even the ones cast in shadow, you are learning to embrace yourself in your totality, both good and bad.

The last step, is probably one of the hardest, even compared to the first two steps. It is learning to forgive (be it yourself or another person) and let go of the negative attachments which bind us to the past and will not let us step into a healthy future. Forgive.......and let go of those burdens you've carried all these years in the form of guilt, shame,resentment and self loathing. The only one that can do this.....is you.

Fear & The Empath

So the question becomes, what does this have to do with you as both a person and an Empath? Well, it has a dual affect, actually. When you stop rationalizing, hiding, and denying all of your fears (which is not to assume you have any of these at all) you gain the ability to understand yourself better. And in so doing, you also gain a level of balance you did not have before. As well, in understanding your own fears, you begin to learn what motivates other people's fears, what holds them back in life, and what keeps them from reaching their own innate potential. You may even find that that is the key to helping others, as it was when you did it for yourself.

As an Empath, imagine the depths this will add to your own perception and your perception of others, as you work with others in healing.

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