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Turning fear into joy

I’d like to share a few thoughts about fear. Seeing that I am of a certain vintage known as octogenarians, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to study fear, reflect on fear, and, of course, feel fear. And here’s what I have learned.

Trying to ignore fear doesn’t work. Trying to suppress fear doesn’t work. Fear is a resourceful character and if we think we can put it behind us by ignoring it, we fool ourselves. Fear is perfectly happy to continue working its mischief in our lives “out of sight and out of mind.” It may take a while – this has been my experience – but we wake up one day and realize there is a price to pay for not facing this ancient enemy.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” said FDR, and the words are as true today as they were when he first uttered them.

But there is another side to this story. If and when we do finally face our fear – when we say, “okay buddy, you’re not going to ruin my life or limit my life any longer—when we let go of our resistance to fear and allow ourselves to actually feel its presence -- a miracle happens. We discover that fear turns to joy.

This is what happened for me a year or two ago when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Fear was on the scene immediately, of course. It loves taking advantage of difficulties and challenges that arise in our lives. This is what keeps it fed and happy.

But I came to see that it was not only fear that was calling to me. As I deliberately faced my fear—sitting quietly in my chair with no other intent but to feel my fear—no longer trying to ignore it or run from it--I realized that love was calling to me too, just as it is calling to you.

I realized that the love of our true nature is always present with us in the midst of our challenges—and that in the presence of this love there is no fear.

What a miracle: There is an antidote to fear. Thank you for reading these words. I would love to hear your thoughts. My love and blessings to you.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

David May 2, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Chris…. If I may, I’ve been following you for several years and am starting to think like you. Through the years many fears have awoken me late at night. Using a little trick that I learned on-line, most nites I’m able to get back to sleep. Keep up the positive thinking big guy.
Best, and Smile-a-Lot
David

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liz May 3, 2015 at 2:34 am

Dawid tell me what was your trick that drove fear away.?

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David May 3, 2015 at 4:00 am

Liz…. Let’s see if I can get it down the way I remember reading. Fear is usually coming from the unknown. When we do get it all figured out and look back, so often we think, “What was I afraid of?
Here goes…
1…Go to bed at set time every night.
2…Curl up in the fetal position.
3…Keep your hands loose and not under you or your pillow.
4…Tense your body, then relax slowly.
5…Put your tongue between your teeth or on the roof of your mouth. (This is to keep your jaw from being tense.)
6…Breath in slowly and deeply, then let your breath out slowly. Repeating any mantra as you breath in and out. I think or say “Sooo” while breathing in, and “Soft” while letting my breath out.
7…This works for me 90% of the time.
8…”Poof”….You’re sound asleep!
There are more things that I will do as fear appears. Acting calm has an effect in itself.
Stay Well, David

Christopher Foster May 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Hi David, thank you for your words. It’s good to be sharing this adventure of life with you. You keep up the good work too. Thanks for the reminder about smiling. Yes, simply taking a moment to smile — whether there’s anyone around or not — regardless of whether we feel good or not — is enormously therapeutic. I’m smiling with you right now.

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Sandra Pawula May 2, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Incredibly beautiful! I need to do more of that sitting down with fear! Thanks, Christopher.
Sandra Pawula recently posted..How You Can Help the People of Nepal Recover from the Earthquake

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Christopher Foster May 3, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Sandra, you’re great. Thanks for sharing your bright shining spirit. Blessings to you.

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Lonestarsky May 2, 2015 at 5:11 pm

so true! I completely believe that love is the polar opposite of fear and therefore the antidote. It’s not always easy to feel it though, so it’s wonderful that you faced your fears in this way. Very inspirational and I wish you all the best x
Lonestarsky recently posted..a zen retreat day

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Christopher Foster May 3, 2015 at 2:05 pm

I wish you all the very best too. It’s lovely to hear from you and I want to thank you for taking the time to write. The older I get, the more I realize the truth of the ancient words, ‘Perfect love casts out all fear.” Hang in there pardner.

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Phil Hartten May 3, 2015 at 9:54 am

Hi……FEAR..

Fear is the other side of the coin ….Belief and is a twin to doubt.

Having had plenty of fear in my life from time to time including cancer, I can tell you that all things are possible and if you are a Believer, then God Almighty has made us all a finished product. We create the difficulties mostly and some times just get in harms way some how.

But no matter the difficulty, if you acknowledge fear and send it away with full confidence that you can solve the problem…..with Gods help …. you can skip over worry and fear and get on with taking action or inaction and work through any problem. After all, if you got this far in life, you have worked your way through many problems…big and small….and you know deep down inside that you can take whatever comes along and solve it…with Gods help.

Even with cancer…..I have a friend that had stage 4 cancer and was ‘loaded’ throughout the body and she skipped all chemo and radiation and beleived that her body and with Gods help she would be okay…and years later she is C free and aokay…she put worry, doubt and fear out to the pasture and took a better mind set.

Hope this helps at least one person. Handle all situation with love…the Love Walk.

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Christopher Foster May 3, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Thanks for your inspiring words Phil. And thanks for sharing about your friend. What a lovely way to express the truth: we don’t have to invite worry and fear in to our home and entertain them and serve them coffee and tea and whatever every time they come to call; much wiser and smarter to put them out to pasture, as you say. Or to put it another way, tell them to buzz off — make it VERY clear they are not welcome, now or ever. Pretty soon they’ll stop calling and look elsewhere for their sustenance.

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Christine Jonas May 3, 2015 at 10:08 am

I have felt that most people live their lives in fear and that is why I think most people protect their egos so tenaciously. To truly let go and be present brings the most satisfying feeling of peace as there is no desire to protect the ego (my ego). Rather there is a desire to see what is present and available. There is an old saying that the answer is in the room. Maybe we have to be still and present enough to hear it! Thanks always for your blog Chris, I enjoy the reads……

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Christopher Foster May 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Thank you for your words Christine. You make some wonderful points. I think it was Blaise Pascal who said something to the effect that all our problems come upon us because we can’t sit quietly in a room alone… Blessings.

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Carina Spring May 3, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Beautiful post. I believe you are right – love can give us strength and courage, and help us make better choices. You are a person with a lot of love, and it shows in your brave and generous spirit. Thanks for sharing.

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Christopher Foster May 4, 2015 at 8:28 am

It’s good to say “Hi” again Carina. Thank you for your words. Where do you live? Wherever it is, a big hello from rainy (but not for long) Denver.

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Marisa May 3, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Dear Christopher,
We have had many similar incidents in the past few years. Your thoughts on fear, similar to mine, yet the fear I felt with my diagnosis, almost immediately, became a sense of peaceful challenge. I have never feared death, which seems to be odd to others, but I do fear the process of an illness stopping me from living each breath of life with the beauty, hope, and wonderment that is also a part of the diagnosis. I decided the only way that fear would materialize was if I let it be there. Each day, each breath, is a gift I will never take for granted. As you have become a gift to all of us to look at what is real, what is truth. Thank you isn’t enough…..
Marisa

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Christopher Foster May 4, 2015 at 8:45 am

Yes, Marisa, we’re kindred spirits on a very similar path, aren’t we. I love your words about feeling calm in the face of death. For me, that was cancer’s greatest gift: it compelled me to face that ancient dread and discover, in the degree that I have done so, the freedom and joy that I find is inevitable as we begin to realize and touch the ever-present reality of our own eternal presence.
For me, it’s a blessing from God to be able to share this magnificent, though sometimes terrifying experience of life with you and with others. Love to you Marisa.
Blessings to you Marisa. We are surely kindred spirits.

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michel May 3, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Dear Christopher,
How great it is to realize that love is the greatest feeling , energy, vibration in this world. Only when we take on the challenge life (God) send us with an attitude of blessing, learning from those events, open to experience the power of the wonderful one with in through those events, are we in position to know who we are. No more boundary in our surrounding only opportunity to live life to its fullest,in all the present moment of our lives, wonderful.
One with You,
Michel

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Christopher Foster May 4, 2015 at 8:54 am

Michel, what a wonderful friend you are. I appreciate your thoughtful, uplifting comments so much. What a beautiful realization you share with us, the opportunity that is always present to indeed learn from our experiences and live life to the fullest in each precious moment. Indeed there are no boundaries insofar as our true self is concerned.

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Vlad May 3, 2015 at 11:13 pm

Dear Chris,

My thoughts on this post, is that you are a great soul and an inspiration to so many. May God give you many more years to share your wisdom with the world!

Bless you,
Vlad

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Christopher Foster May 4, 2015 at 8:56 am

Thank you Vlad. I bless the day we found each other in this remarkable adventure of living.

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SandiO May 5, 2015 at 9:08 am

Hello Chris-
Was good to read your latest post on fear. Something I think if we are honest ,
has gripped our soul from time to time. “What if” can easily lead me down a fearful spiraling path in many aspects of my life; my own health, my husband’s career, my children’s lives, etc. As a Christian believer I have had to remind myself many times not to take God’s job away from him. If we can only remember how many times in the Scriptures, Jesus said, “I will never leave thee.” It is our ‘doubts and fears’ that get in the way of free believing.
All of us will surely have heavy trials, as you have experienced…and those I have shared with you of mine. We will not live one more day than our Savior has intended, no matter what we may try to do on our own. I have found such a sense of peace when I can truly, with Faith, say “Thy will be done.”
Wishing you blessings and love, always my friend.
Sandi O

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Christopher Foster May 6, 2015 at 9:59 am

It’s lovely to hear from you again Sandi. Thank you for your comment. Yes, doubts and fears arise for all of us, just as you say. I am so thankful that when challenges do come, they can actually help us grow and expand and experience a greater sense of freedom and fulfillment, a greater connection with the inner peace of which you speak. Blessings and love to you too.

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Elizabeth Nunn May 5, 2015 at 2:23 pm

As a woman who has lived on the edge for most of my life, I know the presence of fear very well. Sometimes it was stronger than others, sometimes weaker, but always there in the background. As I have moved about 40 times, lived in ten states, and have almost no family safety net, I found myself, once again, facing another move. Elements of this move included deep sadness as well as the fear of, “Where to now?”
So I chose to embrace my sadness and the interwoven fear and just honor it’s passing through my love-anchored, all embracing blessing that knowing, after all, it’s just a feeling and not my identity. Fear is not who I am, but merely a pattern I carry on occasion.

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Christopher Foster May 6, 2015 at 10:32 am

Thank you for your strong and inspiring comment Elizabeth. None of us are immune from fear, just as none of us are immune from sadness. But I think you touch on such a vital truth that fear really is just a feeling, just as sadness too is just a feeling. Whereas the truth of ourselves is permanent, as you suggest. It does not come and go, and it is untouched by the twists and turns of our lives. It is home, isn’t it. I find such joy as I learn to dwell in this place of home within myself where peace eternally abides. Love and blessings to you.

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faye May 9, 2015 at 9:21 am

Hi Christopher,

I read this post and the comments and am very encouraged by your words and comments. I think that thinking positive thoughts can turn things around. thank you for writing.

Blessings,
Faye

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Christopher Foster May 30, 2015 at 8:57 am

Faye, thank you so much for your kind comment. I do apologize that I didn’t respond to you sooner. I wish you all the very best. Blessings to you too.

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Maureen May 14, 2015 at 9:19 pm

It seems you know exactly what to address in your writings Christopher! I’m reading You Must Do The Thing You Think You Cannot Do by Dr. Gordon Livingston. It is a tiny book I found on the discount table @ Barnes and Noble, but it packs a powerful message; just like your thoughtful blog. Facing our fears, embracing them and then remembering our true nature is key. After all, we are so much bigger than our fears:-) As usual, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wise, loving words. Blessings to you and JoAnn.

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Christopher Foster May 30, 2015 at 8:59 am

Maureen, hi, I’m so sorry your comment slipped by me. Thank you for sharing and I’ll look up the book by Gordon Livingston. I really appreciate you keeping in touch and JoAnn send our love and blessings to you too.

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Joshua May 28, 2015 at 2:16 pm

It was good to read your thoughts on an important topic as this, which we can all relate to. Seeing difficulties in life as an opportunity, to further our relationships with others and appreciate what we have, is certainly a great attitude, one to aspire to. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Christopher Foster May 30, 2015 at 9:04 am

It’s good to hear from you Joshua. Thank you for your words and I send a lot of good wishes your way. Be well.

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