Our lives are scary. Flip to any news station, and you will be reminded of all the things we are told to be afraid of – muggings, car accidents, terrorists. It is easy to let fear control us, in ways we may not even be aware of.
"We all have healthy fears and unhealthy fears."
We all have healthy fears and unhealthy fears. Our healthy fears keep us safe – we use them to sense and avoid dangerous situations. Our unhealthy fears, on the other hand, hold us back from growing and can cause chaos in our lives. We may fear failure, judgment, commitment, or abandonment. They are fears that are not based in logic. They can lead us to hurt ourselves or other people, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. As long as we harbor these unhealthy fears, our spiritual growth is limited.
Here are 5 important lessons that can help transform fear into growth:
1. Fear is related to the ego.
We often hear than an inflated ego makes us think we are superior to other people. But our ego is also responsible for making us feel bad about ourselves. Our ego makes us believe that we know what is best for us. It makes us think we know how much money we need to have, who we are meant to be in a relationship with, where we are supposed to work, or how we are supposed to look.
When we get too attached to those notions, we start to worry we aren’t living up to them. We might start to believe that we aren’t good enough, that we are worthless, that we will never amount to anything, or that we don’t deserve the things we have. Realizing that these ideas stem from our ego can help us to detach from these thoughts and start to listen to what the Creator has in store for us. Remember that the Creator knows better than we do!
2. Fear is lack of certainty in the Creator.
To put our entire faith and trust in the Creator means that we believe He has our best interests in mind, even if we can’t see it all the time. The Creator is an endless source of sharing and wants us to receive all the fulfillment in the world. When we start to doubt the Creator, that is when fear creeps in. We start to question if the Creator really knows what is best or that he is putting us in difficult situations for our own good. But the more we trust in the Creator and have certainty in His plan, the less room there is for fear.
3. You are right where you are meant to be.
The ancient kabbalists teach that everything in our lives is designed to bring us closer to the Creator. This includes all of the blessings and all of the challenges (which are really just blessings in disguise). The obstacles we face and the experiences we go through have the ability to transform us in the most powerful ways. When we realize this, we understand that there is nothing to fear. We are exactly where we are meant to be, even if that place feels uncomfortable right now. Growing can be painful sometimes, but it makes us even stronger in the end.
4. Fear is an illusion.
We tend to classify our experiences as either good or bad, black or white. But in the eyes of the Creator, the only thing that is negative is when we pull away from Him. When we perceive the things in our life as negative, we fail to see the Creator’s hand in everything around us. We fear things that we think are “bad” without realizing that our way of seeing the world is not the way the Creator does.
It takes a lifetime of work, but the more that we try to see all the things in our life as necessary training for our soul, the more we can shatter the illusion of negativity that causes us to be afraid. This brings us closer to the Creator, which is the greatest blessing there is!
5. Your fears are not who you really are.
Even though we may recognize that our fears are unhealthy and illogical at times, they can become so ingrained within us that we believe they are part of our inherent makeup. But the kabbalists teach that, at our core, we are made of the essence of the Creator. This means that our souls want us to become beings of selfless sharing, in perfect harmony with the Creator. When we give energy to our fears, we pull away from the Creator and from our true selves. Our fears do not define us. They are not who we are. Our souls are pure and powerful beings of sharing, as perfect as the Creator. The more we understand this, the more we can strip away the layers that separate us from the Creator.
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Transforming our fear is no easy task, but it begins with understanding the nature of fear. Knowing that fear separates us from the Light of the Creator allows us to reevaluate our intentions. It allows us to ask ourselves every day, “Am I letting fear control me, or am I committed to growing my relationship with the Creator? Am I willing to do the work it takes to transform my fear?”
With knowledge, intention, and motivation, we can go to battle with our fear and build a stronger, lasting connection to the Creator. As Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”