Six Easy Steps To Conquering Fear and Achieving Bliss?

Break free from fear and you'll soar like an eagle,

Posted Jan 24, 2010

I bristle at feverishly inspirational books that make large and silly promises. Break free from fear and you'll soar like an eagle, reverse the aging process and attract a bevy of wildly sexy and appreciative lovers.

I recently eyeballed a new self-help guide that states: "Bliss is available to anyone at anytime, no matter how difficult life may be." When I read such statements, I am prone to entertaining mean-spirited thoughts, such as hoping that the author is dealt some unfathomable loss that will serve as a test case of his or her bliss theory.

Since I am really a very nice person, these are but passing uncharitable fantasies. Still, I believe it is arrogant and deeply dishonest to tell people that they can transform their own reality, no matter how dreadful their circumstances, with the acquisition of a few new skills and a brighter attitude.

Of course, each of us can move in the direction of experiencing less fear and more calmness, love and peace. This is a worthwhile and entirely possible venture.

Meditation, medication, therapy, friendship, creative pursuits, exercise, yoga, gardening, authentic conversation, reading and listening to music are but a few of the paths we can take to become more whole and centered and, in the process, lessen fear's grip.

With practice, we can also change our habitual ways of thinking. We can't stop bad things from happening, but we can stop our relentless focus on how things were or how we want them to be, and develop a deeper appreciation for what we have now. There is no quick fix, however, when it comes to managing fear and suffering in our lives, or even for coping with the simple stresses of ordinary life.

I was inspired to write The Dance of Fear, because anxiety operates as such a powerful force in everyone's life, whether it holds us back in love and work-or propels us toward disaster. Indeed, fear, anxiety and shame (the most universal and destructive of all emotions) are the culprits behind almost all the problems for which people seek help-or fail to--including problems with anger, intimacy, and self-esteem.

While a comprehensive list of all human problems would be a long list indeed, what fuels human unhappiness in both the personal and political realm can be boiled down to these three key emotions--anxiety, fear and shame.

Or, more accurately, it's the non-productive ways we react to these uninvited guests-or try to avoid them-- that creates and perpetuates most of our misery.

Perhaps nothing is more important than understanding how these emotions affect us and how to manage ourselves when we are in their grip.