In light of recent events, rampant fearmongering is at an all time high. The following contains excerpts from the chapter, A Winter’s Rest, in my book, Soul of the Seasons: Creating Balance, Resilience, & Harmony by Tapping the Wisdom of the Natural World. Winter is the season of death, rest, darkness, gestation, and The Mystery. The fundamental element of Winter is Water and the core emotion of this season–not coincidentally– is >>>>>FEAR<<<<<.
Fear has much to teach us and, like the emotion of anger, is one of the most challenging to master. The propensity of these emotions to run rampant is great. The following passages contains some great wisdom in identifying when fear have overwhelmed your life and how to get it back in check.
“When we are out of balance in the Winter seasons of our lives, the core emotion of fear can get out-of-hand. Our minds race, overburdened with work, family, the news, or our state of health, from one frantic thought to another, tracking endlessly through all the horrible ways things could go wrong. Overwhelmed, we can become unable or unwilling to take even the tiniest of risks, confused about whom or what to rely on.
“Desperate to find security in what seems an uncertain future, we may enlist faith in those who are incapable of holding our trust. We may seek out conversations or environments (like social media and hysteria-based news outlets) to stimulate and feed our worst fears, mistakenly believing that being “more informed” readies us for the possibility of future [or present] disaster. Flooded with fear and mistrust, we may even believe that others are conspiring against us, causing us to withdraw, unable to trust that anyone will have our backs.
“Flooded with fears of an uncertain future, we use our willpower in contaminated ways. Fearing failure, we may end up with little desire to take action. In a world that seems cold and lifeless, we may curl up in our beds, clutching our heating pad for warmth. If our willpower imbalance shows up as an excess, we may rush around willy-nilly just to be doing something—anything to appease the nagging fear that we will never get anything done. Or we may just as easily use our willpower to bend the will of others to our bidding, convinced that we can create safety through the manipulation of our outer world. And though we desperately crave peace and tranquility, we resist any lessening of our frenetic pace.
“We refuse to rest because resting would be like quitting, like giving up. Driven by our fear of never being (or doing) enough, we fill up our calendars and planners with activities, unwilling to stop and confront the painful realization of our own inadequacies. We may even fear that if we stop, we will die.
“When a Winter/Water imbalance goes far enough, we may become frozen. Lacking the fluidity that Water provides, we stagnate, becoming stiff in both thought and action. We may become emotionally rigid as well. Opinionated and narrow-minded, we resist any viewpoint that differs from our own. We might even become aggressive or belligerent in order to cover fears of our shortcomings.”
Get Quiet: Don’t wait until you’re too sick to get out of bed to give yourself permission to rest. Sit down. Turn off your phone and shut down the computer. Lounge in a hammock or lawn chair. Take a nap. Sit beside a river, stream, or other body of water. Watch birds build a nest or the leaves fall from the trees. Slow down. Give yourself the time and space to settle into doing absolutely nothing. Daydream. Breathe.
“The basic reflexive reactions associated with fear are: fight, flight, freeze, and faint. Each response is appropriate in its own way, depending upon the circumstance at hand.
“Today, survival skills are often viewed as an extreme sport practiced by thrill-seekers and reality TV participants. However, when we are properly prepared, we can trust our wisdom to kick in, and we can make the best use of our knowledge right when we need it most. In the face of danger, our fear can instinctually spur us into taking right action. On a practical level, it is always good to know how to take care of ourselves in difficult situations. When we prepare, as best we can, for impending disasters like hurricanes, forest fires, power outages, floods, or flesh-eating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we can face these challenges with calm reassurance and the confidence that we can handle most anything that comes our way.
EXERCISE: Paying Attention to Your Fear Triggers: Author and spiritual teacher Caroline Myss states, “People can be put into bondage through all forms of abuse, among them fear tactics. All someone has to do is repeat a fear to you again and again and that fear will take hold of you and make you its prisoner. It will enslave you.”
Don’t become enslaved by the fears of others. Instead, learn to identify your fear triggers. Use this awareness to provide you with important clues for making positive changes.
Take a few moments to ask the following questions. Be sure to record your answers in your journal.
What causes you to be the most upset?
What are you most afraid of?
How do you know when you’re afraid?
- What is your usual fear response: Fight? Flight? Freeze? or Faint? (List all that apply.)
- If Fear showed up at your door, what would it have to say to you? What would it ask of you?
- How does your fear response(s) play out in your behaviors?
Example: “I freeze during moments of fear. I stop what I’m doing and retreat from the situation. If it’s really bad, I’ll hole up in my bedroom for a day or two.”
In the future, whenever your fear is triggered, embrace it with the spirit of curiosity and discovery. As you allow your mind to relax into the guidance of your heart, you can rest reassured either you’ll find a way to work things out or you’ll find someone who can.
“While our fear demands a place at the table, it’s never a good idea to seat it at the head. Taking the time to acquaint ourselves with how we move (or don’t move) with the emotion of fear, we can more easily rely on this essential survival emotion. We can take appropriate steps to calm and reassure ourselves, to access the wisdom we need in the moment, and then to decide whether or not it’s time to take a risk on the matter at hand. By recognizing how fear manifests in our body, we can utilize its ability to access our wisdom and guide us toward right action.”
With Blessings and Peace, Melody