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Fear No Evil

 

 

Fear No Evil 

 

by Rita Milios

 

            These days a sense of safety and security is hard to come by. We face uncertainties about our personal finances, job security and even whether we will have a house to live in, not to forget (oh, yeah) the threat of war and terrorism. At some point, all this uncertainty challenges us to examine the role of fear in our lives. As both a psychotherapist and a spiritual teacher, I have come to view fear as the “final layer” in a strata of interpersonal and relational factors that underlie so many of the “people problems” that plague us today.

      Years ago, I thought that stress was the ultimate culprit. Certainly, stress has proven to be a major contributing factor in many of the ills that face us as individuals, whether we are speaking of physical, mental, emotional or social issues. At work, stressed out people work less efficiently and less effectively. They take more time off and they are less satisfied with their jobs. According to the American Institute of Stress (yes, there is such a place), 40% of job turnover is due to stress related factors. 

    But after working with many groups and individuals in stress reduction trainings, workshops and private sessions, I came to believe that self-esteem, self-worth, and a sense of being accepted and appreciated were deeper issues that lay beneath the “symptom” of stress. It seemed that if you scratched the surface and dug down a bit, the source of an individual’s stress often came from the fact that they felt someone was stepping on their self-esteem. This, in turn, caused them to doubt their own competency and worthiness.

       Recently, I have begun to recognize that there is yet another layer to be explored.

       Fear.

       Fear of failure. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of lost or reduced income and vanishing job security. These fears are bad enough. Yet, there is more. There is a final layer of fear, a deeper fear that trumps all others. It is the fear of uncertainty. Fear of fear itself.

      “Uncertainty avoidance,” as it is called, has been linked to reduced work efficiency, reduced creativity and motivation, increased stress-related illnesses and psychological problems. It leads to a lack of tolerance that in turn, generates gossip, back-stabbing, suspicions, and other very hostile and aggressive behaviors. Yet, most of us seem to be very reluctant to address the fear factor.

      Could it be that we, at some inner, intuitive level, recognize that by facing fear in the world around us, we ultimately are forced to confront our personal demons as well?

    When we recognize and fear evil outside ourselves, we inadvertently come face to face with our own “evil” and bring it out of hiding, into conscious awareness. There is both a psychological and a spiritual maxim that goes something like: “You can only recognize evil in another because you, yourself own it as well.” Both truth and fear “resonate” with their own likeness. Yet, we also need to remember that fear is just a feeling. In and of itself, it can affect nothing in the physical world. It is only when we decide to take action ­–precipitated by conscious or unconscious motivations– that events, good or bad, begin to unfold.

     In these days of high emotions and blame-casting, we need to examine our own hearts as well as that of our enemies (human and institutional). Only by facing our deepest fears– the ones that are closest at hand–can we conquer our personal insecurities. And this may well be the most challenging, and potentially healing, task we will ever face.

 

Rita Milios, LCSW, The Mind Mentor, is a psychotherapist, author and workshop leader on topics of spiritual growth and personal development. See Rita’s Articles and Products for additional relevant information and resources.



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