A new José Stevens Article

The Dynamics of Fear in Fear Inducing Times

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Most people experience fear everyday but they do not know much about it other than it feels uncomfortable at the least and horrible at the worst. Why do they put up with it? Because most people believe fear is an inevitable part of life and there is no other way. It is just a part of being human. Why is it that some people experience a great amount of fear in their lives and others rather little? Are they just unlucky, just in worse circumstances? Perhaps some people think they are weaker, lacking in courage, just wimps. Perhaps they are just cowardly and should be treated like cowards until they man up, or woman up. All of these seeming facts are simply wrong. How could so many people be wrong about something so commonplace?

Certain subcultures tell us we should not be afraid. For example if you join the marines you are gutless and worse than useless if you exhibit fear. That subculture filters out into the mainstream culture and becomes a part of it. It is part of the sports subculture, part of the gonzo extreme sports subculture, part of the mafia and criminal subculture, part of the hard core business subculture and so on. It is more embedded in the subculture of men than that of women but they are catching up fast.

Strangely and dysfunctionally we have other subcultures that are mostly based in spreading fear. Politics is a good case in point. We should be very afraid of the policies of the other candidate, the other party. We should be very afraid of not funding our military, of terrorism, of immigrants, of gun laws, of being weak on crime, of minority races and subcultures, of LGBT’s, of open borders, of health care coverage, of laws separating church and state or not, of losing our freedom to choose, of abortion, and on and on. Another active spreader of fear is religion. We should be God fearing people, afraid of devils and Satan, afraid of sin, afraid of losing our souls, afraid of voting the wrong way and being damned, afraid of those other religions, afraid of not doing what the clergy says, afraid to dance and sing, afraid to play music and do art, afraid of our own impulses and desires, afraid of our sexuality and on and on.

Then there is the medical establishment and their worries and fears. Fear not getting your shots. Fear not taking endless medications. Fear that mole, that lump, that little nagging pain, that discoloration, that little fever, that headache. Better take something for it and get it to go away before it turns on you and you end up with the big C. Fear not seeing your doctor for every little thing. Fear taking supplements. Fear not taking vitamins. Fear non-traditional healers. Go to the doctor. Get your check ups, but don’t worry about going to the hospital and filling those beds. No one will tell you that your chances of dying there are so much greater.

Then there are the corporations. Fear not having insurance. Something terrible can happen to you any second and you better have full coverage for everything. Fear lawsuits, fear malpractice cases or they will close your hospital, chase all your doctors away even though they amount to less than five percent of medical profits every year. Fear not having car insurance and fear the other companies offering it or they will cheat you and make you pay more. Fear not having earthquake, fire, wind damage, flood insurance. Fear not having a lawyer.  Fear not having a home insurance. What if anything happened? Fear not having supplemental coverage for everything that shouldn’t break in the first place. You get the idea.

So much fear. So many things we should be afraid of yet so bad to be afraid or we are weak wimps. What is it now? How should we be?

Let’s take a moment to examine the nature of fear so we can see the insanity of all of this a little more clearly and perhaps become more free of it. First of all, fear is part of our fight-flight mechanism embedded in the autonomic nervous system. I am not going to go into all the physiology of fear here because it is complex and most people are already familiar with how fear operates in the body. I will mention a few things about its nature however. Fears are recorded in the human memory system according to similarities. If you experience a trauma or accident, for example the severe pain of a breaking your arm from falling off the roof of your house or a tree trying to retrieve a stuck yellow kite, then you record that event under several categories. Certainly it gets recorded under losing your balance and falling. However it may be recorded under icy conditions, perhaps wind, perhaps rain, perhaps wasp nest, perhaps stuck kite in a tree, perhaps bright yellow, perhaps sickening thunk, or any of whole host of related images accompanying the fall. Maybe you caught sight of a garden hose or rake as you landed. Then these images are associated from then on with the fall and perhaps even just observing one of these items at a later date will trigger the fear of falling and breaking a bone. Just seeing a yellow kite in a store window may be enough to elicit all the fear responses of falling, sharp intake of breath, scream stuck in the throat, palpitating heart, sudden pain, and so on. The fact that it is years later and you have completely forgotten your initial fall may cause you to be completely baffled at why you are reacting with such anxiety from seeing a yellow kite in a store window or seeing a child running with a yellow kite in the park.

So memories of anxious moments are organized by association and by similarity whether they are memories from earlier in this life or memories aroused from past life events. They are also organized according to severity. Did this just hurt, did it injure me, did it have terrible consequences like paralysis, or did it kill me and if so, was it a horrible death or a quick one. Was it associated with other terrible feelings or perhaps guilt that others died too and it was my fault? Was it associated with survivors guilt that I survived my injuries but others I cared about died? Was it associated with an attack on my village, combat, war, a flood, an earthquake, or other event where I experience traumatic loss or psychological shock. These too are organized according to their own categories: Sudden loss of home, family, freedom, car, friends, body parts, and so on. So any one of these events can trigger anxiety and fear at a later date if there is anything serving to remind you of that event.

Why is it that some people have these reactions and some do not, even though all people have some experiences of shocking loss or extreme trauma either in this life or another? The reason for this has to do with several things. Memories are also categorized under RESOLVED or UNRESOLVED, OPEN FILE, CLOSED FILE. If the particular trauma file is unresolved and therefore open, it raises the question of whether you completed the experience or not. Did you complete the lesson involved with it, come to terms with it, resolve the event, accept it on some level, neutralize the anxiety of it somehow or some way or did you resist it and not learn something important about what happened. If you resisted the event over the long term then it has persisted in your memory banks under the category of unresolved and therefore is still open. Every human being has many, many resolved memories that are like closed resolved files. They no longer apply. You learned what you needed to, accepted the event, neutralized and filed it away for posterity. It is part of your history but no longer influencing you.

How many open files do you have? The more of them that are unresolved the more vulnerable you are. We all know people that tend to keep a tidy house, or keep a tidy environment in their work place. Their tools are put away after the project is completed. Some people complete almost every project they start and others seldom complete anything.  Their unfinished projects litter the floor or cover all the tables and their environments tend to leave them more vulnerable to tripping over things. So this opens the question, how do you finish a project when it comes to a trauma or a shocking loss? The main thing is that it has to be emotionally and psychologically completed and it has to have the finality that you learned what essence was trying to show you.  This allows you to let it go, to forgive it, to reduce the torment or suffering of it and render it neutral. Sooner or later all traumas are completed and neutralized by every human being. Nothing is ever left undone. One cannot complete the experience of being a human being until every last project is completed, like it or not. You can put things off as long as you like but someday, somehow you are going to see it through. That means looking at it thoroughly, understanding it, accepting it, and letting everything about it go: All the guilt, all the shame, all the fear, all the horror, all the lack of forgiveness of self or others, all the attachment to any aspect of it has to go.

So any irrational fear is leading you to complete something that remains unresolved in you. This includes obsessions and compulsions around locked doors, windows, unwashed hands, wiping things down, cleaning, rituals, throat clearing and the like. There is a story of fear behind each ritual, each repetition compulsion, each obsession with something, each attachment and fear of loss that causes hoarding, drinking, cutting oneself, starving oneself, and so on. Each ritual is trying to undo something and therefore is a form of resistance to some past event. As long as the rituals and repetitions persist, the file is unresolved and open.

All unfinished business is ultimately a product of the false personality that is taking advantage of your trauma to make you suffer endlessly and not put an end to it. In fact the original trauma, shocking loss, or fear-inducing event was perpetrated by your false personality in the first place. Essence takes advantage of these stumbles to try to teach you something. If you don’t get the lesson and you are in resistance to something, you have become entrapped in a kind of prison sentence of your own making because you have allowed the false personality to have its way with you. Let’s take an example here to illustrate how this whole thing works.

Let us say that in some past life you heard about a neighboring village being raided by Vikings who slaughtered the people and animals and sacked and burned their village. You became extremely afraid that this would happen to your village and you obsessed on it over and over thus gradually bringing what you were resisting closer to reality. Your essence was watching this struggle your personality was having with your false personality but allowed you freedom of choice to bring it about and it became so. One day the horrible event materialized and you watched as your animals and neighbors were killed and your village was burned to the ground. Your last memory was being brutally raped prior to being thrown in a burning building to die in the flames.

In your mind you ran away from this event for many lifetimes even though it triggered your various personalities in many ways. You had obsessions and irrational fears of fires, of male relationships, of events seemingly out of your control and so on. You felt guilty that somehow you had brought this scourge onto your village. You just couldn’t forgive yourself and other people whom you perceived to be just like those Vikings. So in your next life you became a Viking and participated in perpetrating the very same actions only compounding the mess. You killed the man who had raped and killed you in the same way resolving that aspect of the karma.

Many lives went by and this file remained unresolved and open just collecting more and more documents and becoming rather thick. Essence was trying to get you to forgive and resolve and let it go but you would not, so essence merely waited until you seemed to be ready. As lifetimes went by you did mature and became more capable of resolving this fearful event that was triggering more and more suffering. Finally, almost eight hundred years later you allowed yourself to come face to face with the whole experience. You had become a historian in that life, with a concentration on Vikings of that period. You came to understand them and their culture and how they were responsible for influencing cultures far and wide. You met and married a colleague, the Viking who had raped and killed you and whom you had killed as well. You had a past life regression and learned that your past had allowed you to become an expert on this historical period. You had a successful loving relationship with your husband and became able to release all your resistance, all your trauma, all your fear of these people and this event. You achieved neutrality and the result was that you closed the file and marked it resolved and complete. That is the way it works.

Let us conclude with a major teaching about the nature of fear. At the end of the day, the most important thing to understand about fear is that fear breeds more fear. It never ever operates differently. If you are feeling fear then you are headed down a path that will create more of it until you are crazy with it. This is exactly where many people end up and where the false personality wants you to go.  When someone says, “be afraid, be very afraid” laugh in their face as if it were the stupidest thing anyone ever said because it is.

These are highly transformative times of great change. When events transpire that make you feel like all is lost and the end of the world as you know it has come, fear not. These times are here and coming but they are only a way station to a transformed world. Remember the shamanic perspective, “Never accept appearances, no matter how real they might seem.” They are a lie. They are passing phantasms.

When faced with something fearful remember the phrase from the Course in Miracles, “Fear is never justified. Ever. No matter what the circumstances.” To give into fear is to allow the belief that something is going to get you, and it will. You need to look directly at what is causing you to fear and say, “You have no power over me.” You can follow this with any one of several phrases, whatever you are more comfortable with. 1. Word, I am Word. 2. It is so.  3. I command it. 4. Because God says so. 5. This is Spirit Speaking.

Have a good time chasing your fears away.




José Stevens

José Stevens PhD is an international lecturer, corporate team builder and organizational coach, consultant and trainer. A psychologist, licensed clinical social worker and author of more than twenty books and numerous articles, he is also co-editor for A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism and a board member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners. He is the founder, with his wife Lena, of the Power Path School of Shamanism and The Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth in indigenous cultures. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years.