Fear is one of our biggest problems. It rears its head in so many ways. Fear is not intrinsically “bad”. It is an important emotion and feeling that has a useful purpose; however, sometimes it is useful and other times not so much. How do we know which is which?

What Is Fear?

According to the emotions expert, Karla McLaren:

Fear helps you focus yourself, identify where you are in relation to what you’re sensing, and bring all your faculties into the present moment. Fear comes forward to give you the energy and focus you need to orient to change or novel situations. This often means that you have to stop what you’re doing, or at least slow down. Unfortunately, most of us fight anything that tries to halt our forward movement – which means that most of us fight our fear. This is a serious mistake with serious consequences.

Karla McLaren

Notice how fear plays an important role in getting us to focus and how fear also harnesses all of our faculties in the present moment. Where the big picture faculty we have lets us be appropriately inclusive so that we consider as much relevant information as possible in making decisions, fear narrows our focus to the present and what is going on now. It is like working an umbrella – opening and closing it as appropriate.

Is Fear A Bigger Deal For Sensitive People?

Since sensitive people pick up on the energy around them, they then have to deal with it. That energy can have many qualities: light, thin, dull, slow, sharp, undirected, closed, etc. So these energies can be felt but we do not necessarily know what they mean.

The energy of fear can show up in different ways because people respond to fear in different ways. Some may take an escapist direction so that their fear may feal light because they are disappearing, for example. Someone with strong masculine energy may have a sharp or aggressive response or reaction to a perceived danger.

We often do not know what we are encountering unless we know a situation or person well. As a result, we may feel quite vulnerable when around people we do not know. So identifying and handling fear can be more challenging for sensitive people.

It’s All About Loss

All fear is about a loss of some kind. Being different may activate fear in others because difference is often associated with loss. It does not have to be but often is.

Danger exists in many forms. We all understand natural dangers from physical threats of some kind: a storm or wild animal being two examples

Social dangers are a different kind of problem and one that sensitive people can struggle with because they are different. Being different means that we often feel that the onus of harmony is ours and that we have to bend over backwards to make our relationships work with people in our lives especially if they cannot understand us or are unreceptive.

The issue is compounded when we see something that others do not which can be hard to convey without triggering a fear response in others. As a result, sensitive people may work especially hard to communicate in ways that are non-threatening. That is not a bad thing since communication is important for good relationships.

Social Confusion

However, and this is a big however, all social situations are different. The big challenge that sensitive people have is that they need to understand the energies and what they are saying in order to make decisions. What sensitive people do not have are the contexts for the energy they are experiencing and that can lead to mistakes so that social activity becomes a source of anxiety.

Social contexts and constructs vary in each cultural system. If we apply general ideas to all situations we can easily miss the mark. Learning contexts as we do in the Emerging Sensitive Program gives you the lay of the land so you can identify and then navigate different social terrains. However there is an additional step.

How Do We Bust Fear?

One of the challenges of socially based situations is that everyone has a different perspective and experience in life. This is fine except that many perspectives are socially based. What that means is that the opinions and perspectives of people are often adopted from their cultural system.

What most people do not know is that each cultural system is essentially a living system organized to advance a specific project. Our current system is designed to meet the material needs of large numbers of people. Most people expect their culture to be holistic and are often disappointed when that is not the case, but cultures are not designed holistically, they are designed for a specific purpose. Each culture has its purpose, its story and its own fears.

Understanding the cultural and social contexts you are dealing with helps you also be aware of the fears that are driving the story of the individuals in the group, and which may seem real to them. What you need to discern is whether or not the fears you are encountering are based on reality or a social story and how grounded and open the people are. Keep in mind that to many people in a culture their fears are real. In other words, you need to do a reality check. That reality check will bust fears that are not real, help you acknowledge fears that are real and the possibility for healthy and meaningful connection. Sometimes it is possible and sometimes not. Taking these steps help you avoid self-blame when the possibilities for connection are limited.

We all have active imaginations and one thing that cultures do is develop a story for the group’s imagination. It is important to distinguish between a group imagination that is based on reality and one that is not. When you do that then you can begin to get a handle on the fear you are dealing with. Doing so will also help you identity when your own fear arises so that you can discern the reality of the fears you experience.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.