The Mask of Fear
Fear is the master deceiver. It guides us away from truth and towards a fabricated reality of our own creation. By obscuring our ability to perceive things accurately, it presents us with a picture of the world that is pure fantasy. It also envelops our true nature with a veil and distorts the way we see ourselves. Our inner resources of strength desert us because through fear they become inaccessible to us.
We may feel threatened by both real or imaginary beings—oftentimes ghosts from our past who haunt our reality with guilt, grief, regret, or a sense of loss. When Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood,” she seems to strike a chord with us. Yet, to put that belief into practice sometimes seems like an insurmountable task. How can we cease to fear in a world that is completely controlled by fear?
In a way, the narcissism that pervades our culture and society works to nourish our fear. When one becomes too self-absorbed, it is easy to begin to feel completely alienated from the rest of the world. And this alienation—this sense of no one understanding us—becomes a precursor to fear. Fear may begin as a spark, but it is rarely long before it bursts into flames. At the very least, it lurks beneath the surface of our lives like embers from a fire. Even when it is barely there, it affects what we say and do as well as the choices that we make.
Through fear, we enslave ourselves. Yes, we may perceive that it is someone else or the universe that has enslaved us. But this distorted perception is only a by-product of fear. There are even times when we fear our strength, possibly because what we call our weaknesses, insecurities, and/or vulnerabilities have become part of our identity. But a complete identity must be based on that which is real, or it is meaningless. And many of the things we think are weaknesses are only our fears, wearing masks.
It is not only narcissism that fuels fear. It is also conformity. We fear that which makes us different from others even though we want to be set apart. What we call “non-conformity” is oftentimes no more than a feeble attempt on our part to stand up for our convictions while still “fitting in”. Who we wish to “fit in” with may not always be clear to us. All we know is that feeling alienated and alone is painful. Why is it painful? Is it possible that we fear being alone with ourselves?
Maybe that is what is at the root of our fear–a fear of ourselves and who we really are. Perhaps, the other things and people we think we fear merely reflect the fear we have of looking inside ourselves and seeing who we really are. We want to be masters of ourselves. We want to be the force of action and change in our lives. Yet, we refuse to know ourselves.
In a way, this is the gravest type of ignorance—to not know who one is. And fear is also at the crux of ignorance. When we hurt another person and later say that we didn’t “know better”, we have fallen into the trap of mistaking fear for ignorance. If we knew ourselves better, we would see that we do not hurt others out of ignorance but out of fear.
Even if our hurting someone is a reaction to how they have behaved towards us, it still comes from a place of fear. We fear that if we do not repay the person who hurt us for what he did, he will not learn his “lesson”. So, fear has succeeded in playing into our pride. We may think that we are only angry. But because anger impairs our vision and prevents us from seeing things as they are, it also inhibits our ability to discern fear.
Fear will never be permanently overcome for it is too much a part of the world we live in to disappear from our lives. But becoming aware of the fear when it is there will vastly diminish its power. Although defining something—providing it with a label—can take us further away from understanding it, when it comes to fear, we need to call it by its name.
In order to force something to cast off its disguise, we first need to know what it is. Once we identify fear, we must differentiate between what is real and what is a fiction evoked by fear. And in identifying it, we will be able to recognize it more clearly, no matter what mask it chooses to wear.
Peace, Love, and Joy,
This page and all written material at My Odyssey is written by Sascha Norris. (C) Copyright 2010 by Sascha Norris. All Rights reserved.
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