If you know it or not, your greatest fear is separation.
You may call it a “fear” about the surface event, or object; things like fear of dark, heights, spiders, public speaking, or what have you. Yet, when you come down to the core of the thing, what we all fear most is separation, separation from life, separation from acceptance, fear and anxiety that others will think we have lost control. When these fears cross over into phobia, we have lost control. Then the fear comes in an endless anxiety loop. We fear the fear itself, so to speak. It is not a trivial thing, or something to feel shame about, fear may lead to squashing an ant, or going off to a world war. Humans are motivated by fear.
Let us look at some common fears. So much uncertainty in the world is fueling xenophobia, fear of the “other” he/she/it that is foreign to us. This is why we are seeing, in uncertain times, scape-goating of Muslims and Mexicans. If you are Muslim or Mexican, or another historically blamed minority, your fear is of the fear mongers themselves, and rightfully so. But only true lunatics use these fears for extremism.
Other, seemingly lesser fears, such as fear of crowds, of cramped spaces, of insects, and more, directly reflect our disconnection from our evolved senses which originally protected us through our more primitive brain. We have an inborn startle response. We “start,” or startle, when we see snake-like motion, or a spider, which may or may not (usually NOT) be venomous. When we repress it, as we are told and programmed to do, such as when we’re told: “Don’t be silly, it’s only a bug” the fear is internalized, and is our secret inadequacy. This fear, of losing control, and of losing acceptance, is what fear is made of in our mind. It is separation.
We all have a fight or flight mechanism. Some of us simply have it tuned into over-drive, because instead of living outdoors as we once did, we are programmed to think that if we are in a crowd, or in a small space, or see an insect, we are in mortal danger. The fight aspect from our primitive response to our neo cortex is to shut down because of “civilized and polite society”. But the other aspect gushing into our brain, “Get away! Get out!” has switched over to intense adrenaline fueled panic. Cortisol floods your system. It does not take that many repetitions to become phobia, although more often, it just becomes unsettling dislike. Eventually, because your brain has too many other things to stay aware about, the fear becomes unconscious and automatic.
Some of us have insomnia. This could be called a self programmed fear, (it comes with lots and lots of programming help from drug companies and media),occurring when we record our inadequate sleep in our brain. What is actually happening with your insomnia, is that once you begin to worry about not getting enough sleep, an unconscious fear of not being able to cope with the demands of life the next day kicks in. We also, most of us, have a fear of becoming dependent upon sleep medications, or indeed any medications.
This sets us an endless cycle, often leading to severe sleep impairment. It can not be cured with drugs. Medicine can actually exacerbate the “fear.” Because we don’t want to feel loss of control. We don’t want to be addicts. The same kind of fear, of alcohol, or narcotics, or gambling, or any addiction really, is created through fear. The habit is initially sought to provide escape, or diversion, and is triggered into fear as soon as we let it slip off our radar into denial.
Belonging is the opposite of separation. Re-connecting to community, both familial, and global is key.
Now that you understand the underlying mechanisms of all fears, think about how we arrived here. Human beings are part of an intricately interwoven web of life. Much global fear today is due to our stressed relationship to our planet. We wish to think we are above other life forms, so we were taught to dominate, and control. Yet Natural laws are beyond our control. All fear is just our deep seated, core compacted, and often unconsciously motivated, need to feel “I am master of my domain.”
We are not, in fact masters of our domain, and we can never be “dominant” over other living beings until we no longer are sustained by the air, water, and soil which geology and biology create. In Ecopsychology, we are learning we belong to the earth, and not that we are masters of the earth. This re-alignment provides our best hope of managing our fears.