Moving from Fear to Presence, Connection, and Collaboration
By Kathlyn T. Hendricks, guest contributor
“The enemy is fear. We think that it’s hate, but it’s fear.”
How did we get so scared?
I’ve gotten pretty obsessed with fear over the last few years. I grew up with bomb shelters and “duck and cover” (no one back then thought this was traumatic or would create any long-lasting impact). The vision of the mushroom cloud seeped into dreams and decisions and led to everyone on our block—except us—having a bomb shelter for the annihilation we expected to happen any moment. Over my seven decades on our planet I’ve learned that fear lies at the bottom of all unresolved issues. I’d like you to consider that fear keeps you from being able to discern your path in life, from tuning in to and following what gives you joy. Fear prevents you from actually being response-able, participating with life as a capable, whole being.
Here’s just one example of the daily fear dose. CNN now has a Fear and Greed Index, and they say “Investors are driven by two emotions: fear and greed.” You’ll hear fear mentioned in every newspaper and on every news station many times a day. The overwhelming pace and escalation of bad news and the unknown factors of the Covid-19 crisis keep most people in a constant state of stress/fear/contraction.
I’ve been wondering if most of the world has currently fallen into a fear trance, and I have gotten very curious about what we can do to restore our resilience, response-ability and the direct joy of being alive.
There are two major problems inside of the fear state.
When you’re scared you can’t actually think. We tend to recycle survival thoughts and escalate adrenaline (through blaming, self-criticism, attacking) as a non-renewable fuel source. You can’t use your prefrontal cortex to solve problems or even see them. You can’t access your limbic brain to connect or give and receive the essential human nutrient of attention. You land smack in reptilian world in your brain stem where “othering” begins.
Fear changes our relationships
When you get scared, your brain disconnects you from other humans. Others then look foreign, become the enemy. Your fear self can treat other people as objects and obstacles because you don’t feel a heart connection with them or even recognize them as human. Over time, fear turns to contempt and justifies violence. Us vs. Them. Fear fuels propaganda, labeling, bullying, exclusion, shunning. Fear is the engine of war. Fear puts us on the adrenaline roller coaster of big rush, big slump, more fear, more adrenaline, bigger ups and downs.
What does fear do to your body?
Fear is different than anger or sadness. It doesn’t go away like sadness after you cry. Fear continues to swirl and build unless you face it fully and befriend the sensations. Your muscles tense. Blood moves away from nurturing your organs. Your adrenal system secretes more stress hormones like cortisol, so you feed fear rather than vitality. You stop breathing deeply. Your brain functioning suffers, as does your immune system. You stop digesting food effectively. You get separate from your deep body intelligence.
What Are The Expressions of Fear?
Most people don’t realize that there are four expressions of fear, and that you can shift fear to flow with easy movements.
- The fight-fear reaction often gets mistaken for anger. Imagine making fists, jutting your chin out, and barking “Oh yeah, oh yeah!!” as you thrust your body forward like a boxer.
- Flee-fear looks and feels as if some of your awareness stays put in your body and some of you starts to leave. Imagine a shoulder moving away or your head backing up, or your foot edging toward the door.
- Freeze-fear may be the easiest to recognize. Just tighten your whole body while holding your breath. Startles with a loud noise create a mini-freeze that can be as powerful as a full-on freeze.
- In faint-fear, imagine your life energy draining out of your body through your feet, puddling beneath you, or recall a moment of going foggy or confused. The overwhelming onslaught of lies, misinformation, contempt and a cadre of -isms (racism, sexism, etc.) have created a larger context of passive resignation which is rooted in fear. Are we safer if our actions arise from fear or from response-able connection?
You can change your fear to presence and flow now.
Would you like to feel freedom and flow instead of fear? Would you like to be able to choose freely in your life in the moment?
Fear-fighters can ooze, seaweed swaying in the ocean or hot fudge melting over ice cream.
Fear-fleers can sumo, getting down into their legs and connecting through their feet.
Fear-freezers can begin wiggling fingers and toes to thaw out and wiggle more and more into a feeling of flow.
Fear-fainters can reach out and scoop love to connect with chest or belly until they come back home.
You can play with combining oozing, sumo-ing, wiggling and love scooping with big movements and tiny ones so you can shift into flow anytime and anywhere. Please remember that it takes two minutes to change your emotional state with Fear Melters®. Fear Melters® can be sprinkled throughout the day whenever you experience your resilience wobbling and can be integrated within other practices to deepen your presence.
We have created many free videos to support us moving from fear to presence, connection and collaboration. You’ll find discussions about some of the biggest issues with fear, Fear Melter® videos and research about how and why they work, and more here.
Our community has also created a group of free video modules to support you in coming home to yourself, restoring resourcefulness and creating caring community rather than structures based in fear, contempt and isolation.
Free of fear, what’s possible?
You get fully present in your life and can access all your inner resources and your tuned-up rather than turned-off brain. You see others as equals and partners in your life. You can connect with your inner wisdom and creativity, and you can connect with others to collaborate rather than compete. You can co-create a new future for you, your family and global community.
Make the move from fear into the flow of your deep connection to life, your creativity and your unique contribution NOW.
Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D., BC-DMT, is an evolutionary catalyst and freelance mentor who has been a pioneer in the field of body intelligence and relationship transformation for fifty years. Co-author of twelve books, including Conscious Loving, she describes her purpose: “I feel through to the heart with laser-love and evoke essence through deep play.”
A version of this article was first published in April of 2020