I use this term, "fear-based thinking" a lot in my writings and my daily verbiage, so I got to thinking that it might be good to get it down as a precursor to something else I want to discuss in a later blog post.
Fear-based thinking is a way of life. A lifestyle. It is a choice. Many have it as their default because they are unaware there is another choice. I lived that way for a long time myself.
Several things in my life made me aware of the concept of fear-based thinking around the mid-90s. At that time, I was taking a series of Sociology classes at Weber State University. I learned that one basic foundation of Sociological thinking is that upon birth, man (and many animals) are helpless babies and therefore necessarily must belong to a group of others in order to survive.
Therefore, it follows that by taking on the practices and beliefs of the group you are born into is critical as to whether you survive or not. To what degree you soak in the group's norms is also good indication as to what degree you will thrive within the group. We all begin to learn this groovy survival stuff on day one of our lives.
Certainly, in the early days of man, if one person detracted from the safety or common beliefs of the group, they might be expunged from the group and left to fend for themselves in the wild. This would mean certain death of course.
Today's society is really no different. Newborn babies quickly learn which caretakers they are 100% dependant upon and nature makes sure that they direct the entirety of their efforts towards endearing themselves with these people. This of course, ensures their short- and long-term care and therefore survival within the group. The cuter or more interactive the baby, the more positive feedback they receive, which in turn teaches the baby which actions get him what he wants. Soon enough, he learns to fall into step with behaviors and belief systems the caretaking group approves of.
Fear-based thinking evolves from this. It is formed at the root of our deepest desire for survival. It is a physiological reaction. We are taught and we believe that if we make our choices to "go along" with our groups (parents, siblings, neighborhood, schoolmates, church beliefs, political beliefs) that we will not be cast out of these groups, and certainly be loved and thrive within them.
Hence, we carry a subconscious sociological fear that keeps us, to varying degrees, in tow with what society deems is right and wrong. Cross that line, and you will be ostracized, disinvited, head to jail, or put another way, be somehow isolated from your groups. Instinctively, we do not want that scary ultimatum. As a result, we spend our entire lives working towards the approval of our groups. This is what keeps most of us humans in line.
I took this concept and applied it to my own life by asking, ""What things am I doing to please my parents, spouse, friends, church group, classmates, fellow volunteers, and colleagues that don't REALLY resonate with my own truth? What actions am I choosing from a subconscious fear that I will be excluded from the groups if I don't follow the unwritten "rules" of the group?""
The answer was, a lot. This was the beginning of a new lifestyle for me away from fear-based thinking and towards living my own truth, or what I term, "love-based thinking."
Many of us are shifting in this direction, towards love-based thinking. And just in time, too.
My recent experience with cancer gave me a wide variety of examples to use to illustrate fear-based thinking. There is a lot of "automatic" fear-based thinking out there. People reacting before they think DEEPLY through an issue for themselves, deciding how the issue resonates with their own personal truth. People who react one way because that is how they have learned how to react from their groups, or their subconscious fear of being separated from the group.
For example, after learning I had cancer, I took a couple of days to grapple with the idea that I might die. That was a new one to me, and it was a trying test of all that I believed on a faith level. I worked through the initial fear, then thought about practical matters (i.e. must finish up the paperwork on my Living Trust) and then was able to regain a stable mindset, back to love-based thinking. Being momentarily afraid to die was a teaching journey for me, but at the end I returned to my own truth a little wiser for the trip.
However, I quickly grew to absolutely hate sharing with others that I was going through a cancer situation, for I learned that would quickly attract instinctive fear-based thinking from many people outside of my family group.
"Oh my God! I am so sorry!!!" was the most common response. If you think about this response, it is a response based in fear. Fear that the responder has from previous cancer experience, or fear they have for the fear that they assume I have, or from many possibe places. The response actually has nothing to do with the person who has the cancer, and therefore becomes an instant energy drain because it turns the table for the responder to need reassurance. It happens all the time that way, because people are so instinctually filled with fear that we just don't seem able to respond any other way. Let me tell you, it was exhausting fending off other people's fear all day long!
One relative, who I barely know said, "I am just devastated." Well, certainly. My cancer has big ramifications for her own health genetically. Of course she was devastated. She is a fear-based thinker and fear quickly became inflamed when cancer came too close to her. Many people fearfully made my cancer all about themselves. This was exhausting also, because it took some measures from me to actually reassure these people that I wasn't coming to cancer with a fear-based attitude and therefore there was no need for them to do it either.
Every person has the right to react to things in their own way, according to their own paradigm. But fear-based thinking will turn a conversation instantly into a discussion about the responder's fear even if the participants are unaware of it. A love-based reaction would be along the lines of, "How are you managing this new thing?" or "How can I help you?" or "How has your life changed?" or "What things have you been learning from this new experience?" or "What coping mechanisms are you using?" or "What can I bring you?" or "What are you finding is the most comforting right now?" or "How do you feel about (fill in the blank)" etc. These are reaffirming the notion that fear doesn't have to be part of the mix when you get cancer, or at any other time. It's another learning experience which can be shared lovingly and positively with other members of the group.
I think the thing about cancer that feels so scary to everybody and sending them spiraling into fear-based thinking is that it is our perception that cancer could potentially take the afflicted person away from the group. The very thing that at our most instinctive levels, we don't want. It scares everybody all around. "Oh look, somebody is about to be taken from the group. That is not good!" Instinctive Reaction 101, herd style. I had some friends who I didn't hear from after they learned I had cancer. The prospect of possible separation of a group member from the group was just too much for them to deal with, so they didn't deal with it at all. Understandable, when you are a fear-based thinker.
Now I'm not knocking anyone from coming from a place of fear. But I do want to point out that is a choice. Human beings have the capability to think past their fear-based reactions to ANY event, and make anything they want a total love-in. It is a choice. In fact, it is a lifestyle. The saying, "It's all good" came from this. It is totally true. It is all good if you choose to overcome your instinctual reaction and instead apply love as best you can as often as you can.
Choosing love over fear is what we are here to awaken to, in my spiritual opinion. If everybody on the planet made honest efforts to make choices in love and not fear (also called lack, jealousy, or any other negative emotion) then our planet would be in perfect peace and harmony much more often.
Never be afraid to stand up and defend your truth, even if you have to stand alone. Get off autopilot. Step back from the herd. Think about it. And then choose love.