What is Fear–Really?


We have nothing to fear but fear itself–nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said in his inaugural speech in 1933, as he faced his first term of serving a Depression-battered country.

Yes, fear can derail you, paralyze you, block you from realizing your dreams. It can wreck your health if you are in a chronic state of unconscious fear.

You may have heard that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. That’s OK as far as it goes. Many of our fears are really not based in reality. They exist only in our head.

But what if the fear is based on reality? What if the cancer you thought you had beaten came back? Or the marriage you worked so hard to salvage fell apart anyway, and things are devolving beyond your worst imaginings? What if someone sues you for something you never did, and your life is derailed?

What if you’re in the middle of a very real storm–like, for instance, a worldwide pandemic?

Fear that something may get worse is not always unfounded. Such fear can alert us to actions to take the prevent bad things from happening. (For instance, I found a powerful image of a boat in the storm from the Huffington Post. However, fearful that it might be copyrighted, I did not use it. Healthy fear!)

For the fears that are based in reality, I prefer a different rendering of FEAR: Forgetting Every Available Resource.

I first came across this in Kelly A. Turner’s excellent book, Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds.

Turner is quoting what Patti Conklin said in an interview with Turner. Conklin said the first thing a cancer patient needs to do is to get the physical body, the emotional body, and the spiritual body back into alignment, back into balance. Back into love (vs. fear). “I look at it as Forgetting Every Available Resource,” Conklin says. “And the resource is what we have inside of us.”

If FEAR is Forgetting Every Available Resource, the antidote is remembering. Remembering not only the resources inside of us, such as the body’s God-given ability to heal, and memories of times when we got through other difficulties.

I would add, it’s also about remembering there are lot of resources outside of us. Resources like people who support us, who pray for us. Resources like God himself, and all the promises to be with us, to help us, to strengthen us, to heal us, to be our shield and refuge.

Many, many times in Scripture God tells us to “remember.” Remember his faithfulness, both to his people in history, and to each of us in our own personal histories. (That’s why I wrote my book, Abundant Gifts. It records 260 examples of God’s goodness in my life and the lives of others. To help me and others Remember.)

I’ve written before about what makes something traumatic, what makes a UDIN: something that’s Unexpected, Dramatic, Isolating, and with No resources.

Remembering, and looking for, “every available resource” is another way to prevent trauma, to undermine a UDIN. If you reach out and find the resources of supportive people, it will also take away the I in UDIN.

All you have left is an Unexpected and Dramatic event. It does not have to be a trauma, then. You can make peace with it, and that’s when the healing begins.

Based in reality or not, fear does not have to paralyze you or rob you of joy. Scripture contains some form of “fear not” more than 300 times. We are only to “fear” one thing–God. And that’s a very different kind of fear.

“Fear of God” is awe. A recognition of the resources available in Him.

Have you ever read the Gospel story of how Jesus was asleep in the boat during a storm, and the disciples woke him up, accusing him of not caring if they perished? Jesus said they had little faith, and then he calmed the storm. The disciples were amazed and asked, “Who is this that can even calm the wind and the waves?” Their fear of the storm was turned a different kind of fear. It became awe, as they realized the Available Resource they had with them–Someone who could command the wind and the waves to be still. Jesus commanded peace. They had to stand in awe of that, for sure.

Making It Practical

So how can you use this for your healing work?

First, make a list of all your fears. (Some of mine: 1. fear of missing out; 2. fear of missing or forgetting something important; 3. fear of suffering; 4. fear of overwhelm. . . .)

Next, list some of the resources that are available to you, that can replace your fear. (For my first two fears: the inner resource of trust that God will give me what I need, when I need it, as he has done in the past. Also for #2, I’ve found some practical tools to help me keep track of things.  For #3: recalling times of suffering, and how I was not alone, how God and others helped me. For #4: the resource of gratitude and mindfulness: focusing on the positive with appreciation, staying in the present, and prayer–reminding myself of God’s ever-present help.)

In my Healing Code Prayer of Intention, I would name the fears and the memories attached to them. Then, I focus on the positive memories or Truth Focus Statements that correspond to each fear while doing the Code.

I also keep track at the end of my day of the “wins” and things I’m grateful for from that day. These “remembering” practices go a long way in helping turn around my fears.

Let us Remember–and Recognize–Every Available Resource.

And if you need some extra help with anchoring this so that unhealthy fear is replaced with Remembering, consider getting some coaching and a custom Healing Code for fear that just won’t go away. Also, you might be interested in Abundant Gifts and keeping a Gifts Journal to help you Remember.

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