MavK

Art and Creativity Coaching Articles

The Art of Fear

The Art of Fear - Mav Kuhn

As children we are taught to fear those things that might harm us. Our parents’ shrill and giant-sized reactions teach the little girls and boys walking through the forest to beware of lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) and witches and goblins and dragons … A walk in the woods has never been the same since!

But then take a highly sensitive person and those fears are magnified in the lens of their sensitivity, leading to a generalised state of anxiety – excruciating shyness at best, and a depressive state of crippling anxiety at worst. Fear becomes like the spines of a cactus pressed against delicate skin; the sensitive person bleeds at the slightest pressure, so no wonder that avoidance is often the biggest tool of self-defence and a way to negotiate life’s hurdles.

We sell our souls to our bosses and work in return for coin to buy the symbolic representations of “fulfilment”, or what society tells us makes us “fulfilled”.

And on a larger scale, looking at the trends and tendencies of our society, we are immured in a culture of comfort and the search for satiation. From every media outlet we are indoctrinated into believing that we “need” certain things to “maintain a standard of living”; and those “standards” get pricier and pricier. The debt that people incur in attaining the “standard of comfort” is not just financial: such a lifestyle leads to physical, emotional and spiritual deficits, predominantly because we are taught that comfort is tangible and material. We sell our souls to our bosses and work in return for coin to buy the symbolic representations of “fulfilment”, or what society tells us makes us “fulfilled”. But not many speak openly about the needs of the mind or the soul. Where are the adverts advocating the benefits of education for education’s sake, the pleasure of learning and discovering? Where are the adjurations to develop our souls, except in terms of “buy my program to discover your bliss” and “10 yoga poses to reach enlightenment”? We merely skim the surface of our spiritual and emotional selves, projecting the deeper needs onto more easily attainable material goods.

…if we feel that inner emptiness we try, try, try to stuff it full with Things. But like a child’s shape sorter, those Things will never fit the soul hole.

The consumerist and the sensitive person may seem unrelated, but the connecting thread is “avoidance of fear and dis-comfort”. And what is more dis-comforting than the state of fear itself? If we ache, we stop; if we struggle, we give in; if we procrastinate, we read more books on how to stop procrastinating; if we are scared, we avoid; if we dream, we censor our dreams; if we set goals, we compare with others and lose heart. And if we feel that inner emptiness we try, try, try to stuff it full with Things. But like a child’s shape sorter, those Things will never fit the soul hole.

Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you saying ‘you are not a painter’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

What if, instead of avoiding, we embraced our fear as a signpost to what we are meant to be doing? Don’t take this to the absurd extreme: if you feel your hackles rising as you enter a subway at night, listen to your instincts; if you’re in an abusive relationship, seek support and get out; if you have a shaky hand and you’re about to use a chainsaw, maybe get someone else to chop the wood! What I’m talking about are the fears and avoidance of dis-comfort that keep us stuck, unfit, overweight, addicted, spiritually bereft and with none of our innate abilities manifest. Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you saying ‘you are not a painter’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” The voice of fear is not only honed by the internalised voices of relationships with others (the father who said you were never good enough; the boyfriend who said you were too ugly for anyone else to love …) but by society itself. The Media feeds us with 3 square meals a day of terror and fear, forcing us to abdicate further our self-trust because what on earth can we do in the face of such Awe.Fullness?

It will always be a truth that we cannot change THE world, but we can change OUR worlds by pushing the boundaries of fear and learning to speak with Fear: question it, learn from it, acknowledge it, and then thank it for the lesson and push right on through to do the opposite of what fear is telling you to do. Start small, build up big. Or start big and then filter this habit down to the small things.

HOW you speak with fear … WHAT kind of relationship you build with your nemesis … all of that is very personal to you and not something that I can dictate with a broad brushstroke. And remember, whether your fears are gnats or dragons in the eyes of other people is totally irrelevant. NEVER compare your fears to those of others because your body and soul are a unique pattern in the universe that cannot be replicated.

You are not a fractal part of humanity, the same image repeated over and over again. You are a star, unique unto itself.

Face the darkness and know that your brilliance will only shine brighter because of it.

The Art of Fear - Mav Kuhn

©Mav Kühn 2016

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5 comments on “The Art of Fear

  1. Joleene DesRosiers Moody
    April 12, 2016

    Mav – as usual, good stuff. So much truth in, “…we are immured in a culture of comfort and the search for satiation. From every media outlet we are indoctrinated into believing that we “need” certain things to “maintain a standard of living…”
    It makes me sad. But we have to learn on our journey that it doesn’t have to be this way. I’m so grateful for your blog because it teaches us that. 🙂

    Like

    • Mav Kühn
      April 12, 2016

      I’m so pleased that you get value from my posts. I love writing for writing’s sake, but to hear that it rings true with another soul makes it all worthwhile. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Joleene! ❤

      Like

  2. Caroline
    April 14, 2016

    Thank you for writing this! The idea of embracing fear is scary but works! I’ve had panic attacks and anxiety disorder for years now. I’m learning to embrace it and to lean in rather than fight and it truly helps.

    Like

    • Mav Kühn
      April 14, 2016

      Thank you and you’re so welcome! I identify with you as I have suffered from PTSD and generalised anxiety for years, so I’m not writing from a glib, throwaway point of view; I really do believe it’s possible. And I believe it’s such an important topic that this blog post has inspired me to starting writing a book on this too! I hope it will appeal to others, like us, who have the courage to “lean in” as you so beautifully phrased it. 🙂

      Like

  3. Pingback: Are you a comfort junkie? | Mav Kuhn

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This entry was posted on April 10, 2016 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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