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How do you let go of fear, when it feels so overwhelming?

Angsten leren loslaten. Hoe doe je dat?

Fears can get in the way of our dreams and the life we ​​want to live. This is a shame as it is just a feeling/emotion. We are not the fear, the fear is a feeling that is generated within us. Fear tries to warn us, but there is often no danger nearby, yet it often feels as if our entire life is at stake. But why do we experience this emotion so strongly and can we let go of fear?

Fear as a warning

Fear tries to warn us that something needs to change in our lives or that we need to start healing our traumas. Fear often lets us know that our (home) situation or environment is/was toxic. We become afraid if we do not trust our environment and therefore do not feel safe. Fear also warns of pain that we think we will experience in the future. For example, we are afraid of losing our job and therefore give one hundred percent of ourselves and please our boss. When our boss gets angry, our immense fear of losing our job flares up again.

Because we continuously believe these thoughts, our fear is only strengthened.

If we take this too far, we will eventually enter what Tara Brach calls (in the book Radical Acceptance) the “trance of fear.” We then fall into a trance so much that we lose our connection with our true self and with it the connection with others and everything around us. We continually make choices that are in line with this fear. The fear is especially heightened by the horrible pain of our loneliness.

Thoughts linked to fear

There is much more to the idea that we are afraid of losing our jobs. Behind everything lies the fear of pain or even death. We fear that if we lose our job we will be left without a home, freezing outside in the cold, or even worse, without food. In addition, there is usually a feeling of shame, the feeling of failure, of disappointing our family or of simply not being worth living.

Fear by Boeddhist Thich Nhat Hahn

Most thoughts and thought patterns arise in our youth. We were dependent on our parents and caregivers, so we often ignored ourselves or pushed ourselves in certain directions. When we did this we thought, 'If my parents are happy with me, then I won't end up on the street or get punished.' We also often adopt thinking patterns from our parents. For example, if our parents were afraid of going out on the street or being in need of money, we also learn from an early age that we have to work hard and have a good job. We have taught ourselves to apply this everywhere in our lives. It is therefore not easy to change these patterns, but with enough effort we can ultimately make great strides.

How do I free myself from fear? Letting go of fear.

Of course you will never be completely free from fear, but that is not necessary. A healthy feeling of fear is only nice and keeps us on our toes, but this should not happen to an unhealthy degree. We ultimately set ourselves free by becoming aware and perceiving fear with mindfulness. We then realize that our body is tense, burning, uncomfortable and we want to escape. It is important to observe this without wanting to exert control and without wanting to get rid of the fear. We can then tell ourselves 'I'm okay with this fear' or say 'hello' to the fear. Emotions want to be heard, if they are suppressed they will come back even stronger. Only when we find peace and listen to the fear will this feeling finally dissolve.

Having compassion for ourselves is also extremely important. Only when we are mild and sympathetic towards what we perceive, our resistance dissolves and we can clearly perceive our feelings without blindly going along with them.

In our lives, change is inevitable, loss is inevitable. Our happiness and freedom lie in our adaptability and ease with which we undergo change - Gautama Boeddha

Furthermore, it is important not to want to check anything. No matter how hard we please our boss or do our best, it does not mean that we have more security. We can still be fired, but our boss may find it irritating that we do not contribute our own input or behave like lap dogs. We have an idea of ​​'right' or 'wrong', but this differs per person, everyone has their own truth. Try to regain control over your own life and trust yourself again. If we do this, our sense of loneliness will also disappear, as we listen and open up to ourselves. So don't look for security from outside, but create it within yourself. With love and sufficient self-compassion, we can live to our full potential and pursue our dreams.


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