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The Positive Approach - Lesson 9

Overcoming Our Fears

By Peter Shepherd

Listen to the Lesson:

Fear is the opposite flow to need - accompanying any need for something is an equivalent fear of losing or not obtaining it. We may become attached to the solutions we find for obtaining our needs - needs for love and affection, control and mastery, and for self-esteem and to find and fully express one's true self. Underlying those attachments is fear. A basic principle of Buddhist doctrine is that attachment leads to suffering, and to be truly happy in life we do better to replace fear with acceptance.

What we resist persists. When a belief, feeling or physical sensation is stuck and just won't go away this is usually due to a lack of acceptance, underlined by fear. We resist and this only empowers and validates that which we don't like, or hate or fear. The most powerful antidote to fear is our natural ability to accept.

To accept a situation does not mean we are pleased with it or resigned to it, rather it is being ourselves without demanding our past and present experience to be anything other than what it is. It is an aspect of love.

So let's find something that we are not confronting - that we don't feel able to accept as it is - either in our past or current circumstances. The clue is fear - fear that a past experience will happen again or fear that we will lose something precious to us.

For example, I may fear that my partner will find another man attractive and that is reinforced by a previous experience when a lover did indeed choose another man in place of me. That's a painful memory that I don't want to recur.

What am I not confronting? That my partner - in the past and in the present too - does have a choice. Behind my lack of acceptance is one or more irrational beliefs or thought distortions. These lies or untruths cloud my viewpoint - I am not seeing clearly so how can I accept what is? So I need to looker deeper and in each case spot that what my mind is telling me is not helpful - really I know better. If I look honestly and drop my ego attachment...

False assumption: They have no right to choose another!
Truth: Do I have the right to choose my partner? Er, yes.

Negative thinking: I am not good enough to keep a woman!
Truth: Who says? Me - well I can change my mind about that then. Besides my present relationship is going well, it's me that's creating this idea.

Generalization: All women are unfaithful!
Truth: And all men too? What women do I know that are faithful? Erm, lots.
Heaven's reward: It's not fair, I stayed with her for years, I deserve better!
Truth: Yes, I deserved to be loved and still do, but I wasn't going to get that from a person who wanted to move on. That's the reality. I wish her well. And now I do have a loving relationship.

Intolerance: It's not OK that I am not the person she wants as a partner!
Truth: Well, my current partner hasn't said that, quite the opposite. I'm projecting the past situation, that it wasn't OK that she left. But I realize now that it was for the best for both of us. If it happened again the same would be true.

Exaggeration: No women want me, I'm ugly and boring!
Truth: That's what I think about myself. But actually plenty of women have found me attractive, including my present partner.

Try this process and I'm sure you'll find some insights that can change your life around.

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Next Lesson: 10. Letting Go

What's next?

If you enjoy working through these Positive Approach lessons, you might appreciate reading an expanded version that is included in my Kindle ebook Daring to Be Yourself. For those who are interested in the psychology and philosophy of this approach, my first book Transforming the Mind is freely available online.

In addition we offer the home-study New Life Course, available in PDF format, designed to help you smoothly and gradiently develop mental resources that open up new ways of understanding. You will learn how to make difficult decisions, think more objectively without negative feelings from the past, have a clear mind open to all your intuitive resources, manage stress and upsets in your life, improve your personal relationships, dramatically boost self-esteem - and live much more consciously.

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