Many moons ago I had received a request to write a blog about fear and how fear impacts our relationships. It was a great suggestion and I really wanted to do it, but life got busy and I stopped writing on my own blog for a bit while I got some business details sorted out. And then, the topic of fear arose again, this time in my own life, and I thought, “Hmmm….perhaps it’s time to pay it some mind.”
How many times have you been afraid to show who you truly are in your relationships? How many times have you held back because you were worried what others might think or how they might react? And how many times have you outright not even tried because of the fear that it would be too painful? Whether it was the fear of rejection that was painful or the fear of being hurt, the fear was there, and you let it keep you from taking a risk in your relationships.
Don’t get me wrong, fear definitely has a purpose. If we go back to evolution and the times when cavemen had to fight off saber tooth tigers (did cavemen and saber tooth tigers even exist in the same time period? I’m not sure, but I hope you get the point), fear served a very important purpose. Fear told us when we were in mortal danger and when we needed to make a run for it. Fear told us that we were going to die if we did not do something. Fear told us that we would cease to exist if we did not act. What we now call fight, flight, or freeze, was a necessity for the survival of our ancestors.
Today, however, we neither live in the caveman era nor do we have saber tooth tigers we need to protect ourselves from. So why is it that fear can still pop up and force us into fight, flight, or freeze mode in our day to day lives? Well, while I won’t quite answer that question in this post (if you are interested, there is plenty of research available on the topic) I will speak to the topic of fear and how it can be a detriment to us and our relationships if we allow it to run the show.
The point is, in general, we no longer live in danger, we no longer need to be on alert all the time, and we no longer need to operate from a place where we must fear for our lives. Sure, there are many early attachment issues, such as relationships with our caregivers, that may have had an impact on us in terms of fearing for our lives (for example, if our caregiver was not attentive to our needs as defenseless babies, we truly may have feared for our survival), but I will save that for another post. Overall, if you are an adult and you live in Los Gatos, Saratoga or the surrounding areas, you have nothing truly life threatening to fear. Yet, when we let fear rule the show, we literally close ourselves off to experiences that may have a big impact on us and the people around us.
When we operate from fear, and we are either in states of fight (I’m afraid, therefore, I’m not going to give myself the opportunity to get involved in this relationship, I am going to fight it off), flight (I’m going to run away from this relationship or this situation because it feels like I might get hurt), or freeze (I’m afraid of entering into this relationship, so I’m just not going to do anything at all), we are not living as our authentic selves. We are allowing old hurts and old wounds to hold us back and prevent us from experiencing a true connection with another human being. We are saying that we are not worthy or capable of being in a loving, trusting relationship, whether it be with friends, colleagues, or a romantic interest.
How can the Universe bring you the relationships you deserve if you are operating on fear and constantly fighting, running away from, or freezing anytime a relationship presents itself to you? It can’t. So I invite you to take a moment to ponder that.
After your moment to ponder, I wanted to leave you with these finals thoughts. I wanted to wrap this post up by going back to the beginning, the part where I said I need to pay attention to fear right now because it has actually started appearing in my life. Yes, I am a therapist, but that does not mean I am immune to the same issues that you might face. I, too, can experience fear at times. I can usually manage it pretty well, most often by checking in with the fear and giving it a voice, asking the fear what it is trying to protect me from. This is a great technique that can help you learn to friend you fear as well, rather than running from it. A teacher once taught me that when we run from our fears, our fears take over, but when we friend our fears, we are able to hear them out, acknowledge them, comfort them, and allow them to pass.
My dear readers, the fear that has been appearing in my life of late has been related to my business, the services that I offer, and the way in which I do my healing work with my clients.
As you may know, I recently named my practice and redesigned my website. Along with the redesign has been the debate about exposing myself and the healing work that I truly do with my clients. As a therapist, I am trained to say that I use CBT, DBT, Seeking Safety, Motivational Interviewing, Family Systems Models, Brief Strategic Interventions, Mindfulness, my style is eclectic, yadi-yadi-ya.
But what I am afraid to say is that I go deep with my clients using my intuition to guide me as a psychotherapist in order to help my clients heal the wounds that keep them stuck. Even as I type that, my whole body tingles and I get tears in my eyes. This time, however, it is not out of fear (which by the way was related to how my therapist colleagues might see me or how I might scare some clients away—okay, maybe there was a touch of fear, but only a touch now), this time it is out of accepting that this is my truth and this is who my authentic self is. I am a healer who uses intuition to guide my therapy work to allow my clients to have the deep healing that they need in order to become unstuck.
When I was called to write this article, Brene Brown and her work on vulnerability came to mind. In her work, Brene says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability and authenticity.” She goes on to say, “If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” For the reason of having more clarity in what my purpose is in this world, I am opening myself up to vulnerability, and sharing with you that intuition and spirituality guide the healing work that I do.
Perhaps you might be wondering how my fear deals with relationships. Well, my fear of being seen and allowing the world to know what tools I use in my healing work was keeping me hidden, partially fighting and partially freezing, which in turn was preventing the clients who want to work with this type of healer know that I am here. My fear was interfering with my ability to provide a therapeutic relationship with the people who want and need the special skills I have to offer in order to help them heal on a very deep level—all because I was afraid of how the therapy community might react.
I now invite you to take another look at your fears and how they might be impacting you in your relationships, not only with the people who are in your life presently, but also with the people who you might be keeping yourself hidden from…