Tuesday, 4 August 2015
How does one respond to fear?
With fear, these are the questions I ask:
What am I frightened of?
Where is my attitude wrong?
What should my attitude be?
Regarding the first question: it helps to be specific, and to trace it all the way through, exactly as one would in a Step Four.
Here is an extract from something else on Step Four:
‘Next, reduce your fear list to the underlying fears, i.e. the fears that seem to be the source of all of the other fears, as follows:
Ask “why” in each case: if you are scared of losing your job, ask “why is that a bad thing?” or “what is it about losing my job that makes me scared of it?” If this domino (losing your job) topples, what other dominos will topple (having no money, having nowhere to go during the day, not being respected by other people, being seen as a failure, not achieving my ambitions)? By the time you have asked “why” 5 times, you have usually found the core fear(s) and can go no further.
Separate out the list of core fears, i.e. the fears underlying all of the other ones.
I am scared of annual appraisals at work ← I am scared of being judged a failure ← I am scared of losing my job ← I am scared of having no money ← I am scared of being poor when I am old ← I am scared of being alone. Core fear: being alone.’
So much for the first question.
The second and third questions are tougher.
They are linked, however.
The key thing to remember is this: when I am frightened, I am temporarily blinded to some greater truth. I need to connect to that greater truth to have my eyes opened. However, the point about being temporarily blinded to the truth is you are unable to look and see where that truth is. Help is needed.
This is where spiritual reading (or listening) comes in. You read, or listen, to whichever writer or speaker you are currently drawn to, whether in AA or outside of AA, preferably having a selection of both at your disposal, and present the particular fear problem to God, asking God to speak through whatever you are reading or listening to.
As you are reading or listening, you will suddenly start hearing things that ‘work’, in that they address various aspects of the problem you are experiencing. Emotionally, the relief is much like the relief of finally threading a needle with an impossibly small eye or buttoning a refractory button after much apparently pointless effort. Ideas start to connect up, and your eyes start to open. From that perspective, you start to see where the attitude and thinking were wrong.
No one can do this for you: this is where growing-up in the programme takes place; the unthreadable needle and unbuttonable button are inside us, and you have to let God’s hand guide your own, by opening your eyes.
So, once you’ve traced out the fear, get reading and listening, and, if you are seeking God through those means, the altered perspective can and must come, at least in principle, although you may not be able to ‘realise’ the altered perspective, in the sense of being able to inhabit it fully and thus be at peace. That is going to require action.
Once the altered perspective has been granted (and it will), you only remaining job is this:
Ask: What would God have me be? What would God have me do?
Adopt the position of foot-soldier in God’s army in this apparently hostile world where everything appears a little bit off (to say the least) and fight to act right. You’ll then discover, remarkably, that not a hair on your head will be harmed.
‘At once, we commence to outgrow fear.’