Fear and Its Disguises

Photograph © 2012 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2012 Peggy Kornegger
The presence of fear is not always recognizable as such. Yes, it can be the jolt to the gut, adrenaline coursing through your body, at a near-miss in traffic or sudden turbulence mid-flight. Obvious. Unmistakable. But most fear is more subtle than that, more hidden. It lurks in your subconscious and disguises itself as other things when it emerges. Anger, sadness, negativity, shyness, humility, resentment—all these are perfect covers for fear.

A friend of mine feels angry when she’s in a situation that frightens her, such as running out of gas on the highway in the middle of nowhere. Anger comes up first; irritation. Next could be self-blame or regret. But really the root feeling is fear. Another friend experiences depression or sadness instead of active fear when facing a potentially difficult turn of events or future circumstances. Yet another friend recently wrote about how he now realizes that his spiritual “humility” has concealed a fear of standing out, of being fully himself in the world. I can relate to all of these experiences.

I’ve also had disguised fear directed at me in the form of well-meaning, but basically negative advice or warnings about something I plan to do. Naysaying. Actually, we live in a naysaying world dominated by fear and a mainstream media that promulgates it. We learn to internalize it and then pass it on to others. Our news sources rely on sensationalism to attract an audience with frightening new dramas every day: murder, disease, abuse, scams. Those who financially sponsor the media use fear to control people, to keep them distracted, apprehensive, and unquestioning.

Conscious awareness can shift everything, however. Once we recognize the sources of external fear in our lives, we begin to recognize it within ourselves. Some fear may come from past experiences, which needs to surface and be released, and some may come from present events and how they are perceived. When we become more aware, we realize that the world is not all mayhem and catastrophe. Positive solutions also exist, and we can become part of that wave of positivity on this planet. When we are not stopped by internalized fear, so much becomes possible. We can step into our own greatness: the fully realized humans we came here to be.

My own fear of “being great” has hidden behind childhood shyness and then adult political and spiritual beliefs about equality and humility. I’ve never liked the existing hierarchical paradigm in which individuals battle for top-dog status at the expense of others. I envision a world in which self-actualization is possible for all. To be humble is to know we are connected to everyone else, and what each of us does affects the whole. As I evolve spiritually, I have come to see that becoming my own greatest self does not negate humility but can actually enhance it when I align with my connection to all beings everywhere. That’s the magic; that’s the miracle.

Becoming your full-out magnificent self and also being aware you are part of a whole involves a delicate balancing. But that’s the humility of oneness. No self-abnegation or belittling of self, but instead, expansive creativity within a framework of collective brilliance. We can be fabulous with inclusivity, not exclusivity. We can inspire others without causing them to feel small. Because we are all inspiring when we allow our souls to step to the fore. So don’t let fear stop you, no matter what disguise it wears. See through the masquerade to the soaring spirit at the core of everything and everyone.

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