Fear is an insidious creature. It’s a trickster who comes to us in all shapes and sizes. It gets into our psych and whispers gently in our ears that we aren’t good enough, we aren’t smart enough, we can’t do it, and even if we could no one would care anyway, so why bother.
The thing about fear is that it doesn’t like to show its face. It disguises itself as logic, rationality, and practicality. It gives us 100 air-tight reasons why we can’t do something. And then, when we try and fail, fear is right there saying, “I told you so.”
My Black Hole
Let me tell you a personal story about fear. When I was ten years old my mother got remarried. It was a turning point in my young life and a day I will always remember. The ceremony was held in a small banquet room in a nearby hotel. It was a private gathering of our immediate family – all there to celebrate a union of love. Everyone, that is, except me.
I sat in the front row, my palms clammy as I gripped the side of my chair. I was headed for summer camp the next day and silently wished I could fast-forward time or better yet, just skip this track and move on to tomorrow.
I remember nothing of the ceremony except for one moment when the pastor, or rabbi, or judge, or whoever was officiating said, “If anyone has any objections, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
I jolted to attention. Every fiber in my being wanted to scream out – “Yes, I object. I object. Don’t marry that tyrant.” I wanted to beg and plead and cause a scene – anything to stop the wedding. But the moment came and went in an instant and I was left holding my peace as I watched my mother exchange rings with a bona fide sociopath.
That was the day I met my black hole.
My black hole and I formed a tight relationship. My black hole reminded me that I wasn’t good enough, that I never did anything right, that I had no dignity, no worth, no value. I was nothing more than pond scum and had no business taking up as much space as I did.
My black hole was my protector. It kept me safe – alone in my room and stuck in my fears, where no one could see what I actually was – a worthless waste of space.
My black hole manifested as depression, self-harm, addiction, and rocky relationships… to name a few.
At 17, my mother got divorced. But it was too late to say goodbye to my black hole. It had already sucked me in and was a permanent fixture in my life. I no longer needed my step-father to validate my worthlessness: I had my black hole for that.
When times got tough, my black hole was right there. When life started looking up and things were going well, my black hole always found a way to worm its way back into my life and say, “I told you so.”
Fear Keeps You Small
To connect the dots, my black hole represents my fear – much of which was dumped on me as a child. Fear wears many costumes and shows up in many ways.
Fear keeps you small. It stops you from going for it – whatever “it” is. It keeps you stuck in a dead-end job long after it’s time to move on. It keeps you complacent in a hum-drum relationship. It stops you from playing that instrument, learning a new skill, or packing up and moving overseas.
Fear keeps you stuck right where you are. And the best way to evolve your life is to stop letting fear control you.
Fear in Dreams
Sometimes fear is obvious, like with panic attacks or phobias. But more often it’s like a subtle white noise, constantly playing in the background, which you didn’t even notice until it gets turned off. We become so accustomed to our fears that we fail to recognize them for what they are: fear.
Your dreams can show you the white noise of fear – the fear that’s running in the background of your life, keeping you small, without you ever being aware that it’s there.
Fear shows up in dreams in many ways: shadowy figures, faceless strangers, intruders in your house, violence, being chased, drowning, the world ending…
Fearful dreams often leave you feeling scared and confused and you may be afraid that these situations will play out in your waking life. But let’s make one thing clear: Your dreams are ON YOUR SIDE, not on your case.
Fearful dreams shine a light on your fears and give you a tangible way to think about them so that you can better work with them. Dreams point out unresolved fears that may be holding you back and keeping you small.
Just like my black hole is a metaphor for my fear, dreams give you metaphors for your fear. That shadowy figure lurking in the background may represent your fears, lurking in the background of your life. The faceless man chasing you, may be about the unidentified fear you constantly run from.
If your dreams are showing you fear, pay attention. There’s something there you need to work on and your dreams are pointing the way.
Dealing with Fear
As long as you’re a human, you’re going to feel fear from time to time. There’s no way around that. But you can learn new ways of handling your fear so that it doesn’t control your life. Here are three simple tools to help you move past fear.
One way to deal with fear is to use visualization. From your waking state, visualize your fear. It helps to use the metaphor for your fear – like my black hole, or the faceless figure from your dream.
Now, visualize yourself sending your fear someplace where it can’t reach you. I sent my black hole to another dimension. You might lock your fear in the closet or dig a hole and bury it – whatever feels right for you.
#2: Positive Mantras
After you identify your fear, create a positive turn-around or reframe. Instead of unquestioningly believing your fearful thoughts, question them. Does your fear represent the Truth? If you answered, yes, can you be absolutely sure?
Now do a turnaround. Think of at least three ways to reframe your fears. In other words, find at least three ways to change your fear into a positive affirmation.
For example, when I discovered my black hole, some of the fears I was working with included: ‘I’m afraid I’m don’t have any value” and “I’m afraid I’m not enough.” I turned those around and created these mantras:
- I have value
- I am enough
These mantras are simple and true. I wrote them (along with some others) on my “Mantra Mirror” and put it where I see it several times a day. Seeing my affirmations written over my image strengthens their truth and lessens the grip of fear.
An anchor is a wonderful tool to help move through fear. An anchor is any object that reminds you of your positive affirmations. Your anchor can be anything as long it reminds you to move past your fear and remember your mantras.
I use a “fear rock” as my anchor. It’s a smooth rock I found in the garden. I usually keep it in my pocket or on my desk. When I feel myself moving into fear, I hang on to my rock and quietly mediate on my mantras. It reminds me that I’m in fear and helps me move past it.
Wrapping it up
We all have fears; it’s part of being human. But you don’t have to let your fear control your life or keep you small. Identifying your fear as fear is the first step to moving past it. Think of your fear metaphorically and pay close attention to fearful dreams. Once you’ve identified your fear, use visualization, mantras, and anchors to move through it when it arises.
If you’re having fearful dreams and would like help overcoming them, I offer private coaching sessions where I can help you work through your fears and find new ways to deal with them. Click here to learn more and book your session.
It’s your turn, Dreamer
I always love to hear from you. How does fear show its face in your dreams and what metaphor describes it? Share your stories and experiences in the comments below.