As my loyal readers know, I'm all about experimentation. Over the course of the past few years, I've been to all sorts of energy workers and engaged in various types of unusual healing modalities for the sake of broadening my horizons. Recently, I've been thinking about one session in particular. During this very, very long session of energy work, the practitioner got me talking about fear. She had me visualize something that I was afraid of, and then repeatedly ask myself the question, "What's the worst that can happen?"
I participated with a marked lack of enthusiasm, feeling that the exercise was...well, kind of silly. I felt like a little kid as she kept asking me what the worst outcome of a situation could possibly be, and then dug deeper and deeper. If I remember correctly, we were exploring my fear of confrontation, and to the best of my recollection it went something like this:
Her: "What is the worst that can happen if you confront someone about an issue?"
Me: "They'll get angry, and things will escalate."
Her: "And what is the worst that can happen in that situation?"
Me: "They will hate me."
Her: "And what is the worst that will happen?"
Me: "They might never talk to me again. Or stab me in my sleep."
...And so on. In the end it turned out that my fear of confrontation really was based on a fear of death. Who knew?
While I wasn't focused (or perhaps mature) enough to get everything out of this exercise that I should have, I do think that there is something to be said for exploring our fears and separating the valid from the groundless. Sometimes, mentally visiting the worst possible scenarios can snap you back into focus and lead you to realize that, no, this fear does not serve a purpose. After all, the fear mechanism is the body's primary method of protection. The problem is, the body often can't distinguish between a threat to survival, and an experience that is simply unpleasant. Running from a bear should warrant a certain reaction: racing heart, shortness of breath, bursts of pupil-dilating adrenalin. I get these same effects from any sort of confrontation. Others get it from public speaking, or being alone, or any number of things which will certainly not lead to death or disfigurement.
So, if you have fears that are holding you back in life, I encourage you to try this exercise. Get as outlandish as you have to. The more detailed and outrageous you get with your visualization, the easier it will be for your mind to separate a groundless fear from a real threat. And when this separation takes place, the fear can finally be released.