I Am Afraid

By Anthony Gold

What is it about fear that completely takes us over?

Or anger?  Or any other similar emotion?

We feel it viscerally and completely.

How do we know that we’ve been “taken over” by an emotion like fear, anger, worry, sadness, and the like?

Besides not feeling peaceful, and certainly not aligned with our best selves, we are no longer “we”. We’ve lost touch with who we truly are.

Consider the phrases: “I am afraid” or “I am angry”.

Note the key association of “I am”.

Our entire sense of being, our “I am”-ness, is now enmeshed with the emotion. I am fear.

Not “I feel fear” or not “my body is in a state of fear” but rather “I am fear”.

Fear and me are one.

Anger and me are one.

Sadness and me are one.

I’ve thrown away my true nature and am now something completely different. As if an alien entity has permeated me and completely assimilated and replaced my former self.

That may sound a bit farfetched, but if you consider it deeply, you’ll see it’s not.

When we say “I am [insert your emotion of choice]”, we are indeed possessed by a foreign, malignant nature.

Some of the world’s greatest philosophers and sages have referred to this “alien nature” as ego or the false self.

What we call it makes no difference.

That we choose it makes all the difference.

Fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, stress, loneliness, ennui, and any other emotion you want to select aren’t thrust on us. No one can make us feel that way. No thing can make us feel that way. We choose it.

Sure, other people can do hateful, spiteful, mean, vicious things – and they do. No question the world can be cruel, treacherous, barren, and inhospitable. But what other people do (or don’t do) and what happens in the world aren’t “us”. Those things don’t define us. They don’t infuse us with our sense of self.

We choose our response in every moment. In the incredibly insightful words of Viktor Frankl:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

When we choose to associate with the false self – the ego – we will be fear. We will be anger. We will be sadness. And all our responses will not be coming from a place of growth and freedom – rather, they will be coming from a place of despair, a place of hell.

But when we remember our true nature and align with our true self, then all our responses are infused with growth and peace. And the only emotion we feel is one of complete bliss.

It’s always a choice. In every single moment. We either choose pain or joy. Fear or peace. Hate or love.

Which choice do you want to make?

Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll dig into how we so easily allow ourselves to be taken over by our false selves – and how we can begin practicing making a different choice. I look forward to seeing you then.

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