on July 30, 2013
As most people who read self-help books, for many years I am a sufferer of anxiety and fear. Sometimes, my fear comes to be panic. I trace back these fears to the education I suffered in childhood and which, among other mistakes, made me believe in a God who is more ready to punish us than to allow us to be happy. For example, God gave us the sexual pleasure, but the Church makes us believe that this pleasure, out of wedlock, is a mortal sin and condemns us eternally to hell. If our father was authoritarian and severe a person, it's no wonder that we believe that our father in heaven is alike, with far more power to punish our faults. And it is no use telling us, at the same time, that both parents love us and that the punishment is for our good. The fear was introduced to always, in our credulous minds and hearts . The basic belief that we are sinners, guilty and not worthy of a happy life is rooted in us, for the benefit of the authors of self-help books and to our unhappiness.
As I was reflecting on my fears and anxieties and reading books that could help me overcome them, I began to realize that everything depends on our thoughts and the emotions that are associated with them. What many of these books tell us is to have positive thoughts. But I found out that there is no positive thinking without the negative thinking. Our mind is dual: when we think of "day", that thought brings the thought "night"; When we think of "life", we also think "death". Which of the opposing thoughts will be predominant in our mind? Depends on the beliefs that are stored in us. In my case, as one of my core beliefs is that I am a sinner who deserves to be punished, the thought "death" has more power than the thought "life", because it is in accordance with my belief.
Later, and after having read a few more tens of books, I realized the concept of "resistance". I realized that trying to impose, by force, a positive thinking against the negative thinking, which made me feel anxious, had as a result give even more power to negative thinking. In the war between what I want and what I feel (what I believe), the winner is always what I feel. So, try to change my negative thoughts, opposing them with positive thoughts, is resisting negative thoughts and this resistance is precisely what feeds negativity.
So if resistance isn't the solution, what to do?
While I was going through these dark emotional experiences, with fear as the dominant factor, also had wonderful experiences, what I call " eye winks" of God ", as if God wanted to tell me that I'm never alone and that He is not how I was taught. These experiences are what the authors call "synchronicities". I will tell one of the most stunning.
In 1971, I was on a beach in Africa with my wife and a 2 year old daughter. On that day, the beach was deserted. The closest one was over 500 feet away. I felt absolutely at peace with myself.
I love the sea and the day was splendid. Then came to my mind the thought that that paradise was about to end. The vacation would end the next day, because we had no money to go on.
Without losing my peaceful and happy state of mind, I asked my wife how much money would be needed to stay one more week and she said it would take a lot of money - about 500 dolars. Indeed a lot of money in 1971!
Relaxed, I stretched my arms back and buried my fingers in the sand. I felt something touching my fingers of the left hand. I grabbed it and ... It was a 500 bill folded in four, buried in the sand, right behind me.
Out of the blue (or rather the sand) was there exactly the money we needed to stay an extra week in that paradise. Neither more nor less!
In the year that I had this experience, I had never heard of.Law of Attraction, positive thinking, visualization, Silva Mind Crontol, the power of now, power energy, quanta, manifesting desires, etc. What happened was totally spontaneous. And I had many other identical experiences, of which much later-and thanks to some books that I have read-I got an important conclusion: whenever I'm quiet, without wanting it to happen something, without worry for not having what I would prefer to have, without making any effort to have that thing, I get it. This has already happened to me dozens of times.
This means that all the practices and techniques I have learned in these self-help books are wrong? In other words, any technique is a form of resistance? And the secret is to accept rather than resist? But what exactly is to accept?
And what has this to do with the fear, stress and anxiety?
Some of the books I read gave me a glimpse of what is acceptance. To accept is to be attentive to what is happening in me and outside me. If I'm afraid, acceptance is to see this fear in me. Is to observe the fear, rather than react to it. That way, I don't add any thought to fear; I only notice. I can assure you that, when I do this, the fear will go away after a few moments. Why?
The answer is a surprising discovery that I don't remember seeing reported in any book. I discovered that fear is ... the fear of being afraid! We do not are afraid of this or that-God, the devil, death, disease, misery, flying, etc. We are afraid of being afraid, period. And, so, when we give our attention to the fear that we are feeling rather than trying to avoid it-and we accept it as we accept the wind in the trees, what we are doing is not being afraid of being afraid.
And, if we are not afraid of being afraid, then we have no fear at all.