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The Biggest Freedom Is When it Doesn't Matter if You Are Afraid

| Nirmala | Fear

The Biggest Freedom Is When it Doesn't Matter if You Are Afraid

Published on
19 May 2023

Q: How to overcome the fear of what could happen in the future...i.e. the fear of what if something bad happens? Thank you for your time, I appreciate your support.

A: I have written a bit about fear over the years, and here are some articles on this site about fear:

But the simplest way to overcome fear and any negative emotion is to explore the experience of it until you discover that it is OK to feel fear or any other emotion. The biggest freedom is not when you never feel fear, but when it does not matter if you feel it. Fear is just a particular set of sensations that are triggered by thoughts about the future. Are they really bad sensations? Or are they just particular sensations? How similar are they to excitement? Do the sensations of fear harm you in any way? They may seem to make your negative thoughts about the future seem true and important, but are strong sensations really proof of how true your thoughts are? Have you ever been really scared about some possibility, and then it never happened?

The biggest paradox happens when you accept the sensations, and when you even find that you can enjoy them! Lots of people are paying good money right now to experience the sensations of fear by riding a roller coaster, sky-diving, going to scary movies, etc. And this is paradoxical because when you discover you can enjoy the sensations of fear, they tend to pass pretty quickly. But even if they last a while, they always do pass eventually. If you find you can enjoy them, then there is no rush to get rid of them.

Emotions that we accept and are curious about tend to pass quickly, whereas emotions that we resist and try to get rid of tend to stay around longer. One way to get better at accepting, being curious about and ultimately enjoying emotions is to start practicing in fairly ordinary moments, or with simple small fears and emotions. Just like you would start learning the piano not by trying to play something by Beethoven, but with something simpler, you can start more simply in ordinary moments of milder emotions or even no emotions by asking, What are my present moment sensations? Are they actually "bad" sensations. or just particular sensations? How long do my sensations in this moment last? Are they changing or do they stay exactly the same moment to moment? And if an emotion arises, how do I know that I am feeling that particular emotion? If I had to teach someone else how to feel afraid or sad or angry, how would I teach them to have this same emotion that I am having? What makes it possible to feel afraid and what makes it impossible to feel afraid? If I relax all of my muscles, can I still feel afraid? How about if I just start laughing or jumping up and down? Can I still be afraid, or does that interfere with feeling fear?

Fear is a normal natural response of our body to certain thoughts, but it is ultimately not very important or meaningful. You can let your body have that experience and even explore it, enjoy it and eventually be free of any suffering in response to it.

I hope this is helpful.