How Not to Get the Girl

By Anthony Gold

I was too terrified to approach her.

She was the prettiest girl at the party, and there she was standing all alone by the window. She looked a little self-conscious, anxious to be engaged in any sort of conversation.

I had seen her a few times at school and knew all about her charm and depth. My heart raced at the opportunity to speak with her.

But I couldn’t move from the couch. What would I say? Would it be interesting? What if someone else approached her while I was walking over – what would I do then? Pretend like I just happened to be going in that direction toward some other clique at the party?

Which was the stronger force: fear of humiliation or the opportunity to overcome it?

I chose the former and regretted it for the next two years of high-school.

Such is the nature of fear. Its avoidance is often a far more compelling draw than its transcendence.

The former (avoidance) is something of a default. Our limbic brain, particularly structures such as the amygdala, rapidly primes us with “danger” signals. It is much easier – and seemingly more natural – to avoid fear than attempt to understand, much less control it.

The latter – transcending fear – requires a choice. An act of volition. The decision to see fear for what is clearly represents.

Fear is a judgment never justified. Its presence has no meaning but to show you wrote a fearful script, and are afraid accordingly. (T-30.VII.3)

The key is that we wrote the script, and we can just as easily change our experience.

Fear is not of the present, but only of the past and future, which do not exist. There is no fear in the present when each instant stands clear and separated from the past, without its shadow reaching out into the future. (T-15.I.8)

There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically. (W-pI.23.2)

And that is the choice we can make in every instant. The choice for oneness, not separation. The choice for peace, not conflict. The choice for love, not fear.

Once we recognize that we are the decision maker – we are the author of joy or pain – then, in any distress, we can recognize the maladaptive choice we made and simply choose again.

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape from all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Spirit calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again.” (T-31.VIII.3)

That fateful day at the high-school party, and countless times before and since, I chose the defensive debilitation of fear. But when looked at properly, through the eyes of spirit and not ego, we can clearly make a different choice – one that leads to incredible happiness in every moment.

Join us in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of fear and how we can practice unclenching its seemingly fearsome grip. I look forward to seeing you then.

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