Many people when they first hear the word fear think of some immediate physical threat or walking down a dark street at night. Fear is associated with as many aspects of human experience as there are people. Fear is all-too-common. Fear is all-too-often a misperception from past experience of what is actually happening in the here-and-now.
There are circumstances and situations in life when fear is an appropriate and important reaction for your survival or to end up not meeting with a high-risk of getting hurt. This can be true of getting hurt physically in some circumstances or emotionally. In other circumstances the risk of getting hurt is in the emotional sphere. Perhaps being at risk or fearing having very intense emotions like anger or rejection and not handling them skillfully.
Being aware of you emotional fear is a very helpful Life Skill to continue to build and strengthen. Why? Because so much of what people perceive about their fear is really dependent upon their emotional state. Emotions left unchecked or that you are not aware of can cause you to feel that you fear a myriad of things, people, situations, and so forth in the absence of that fear being helpful or logical. Emotions that you are aware of or emotional fear you are aware of will help you be mindful enough to be skillful with any challenge or breakdown in communication. The more skillfully you regulate your emotion in a difficult interaction the more effective you will be regardless of the outcome because you will maintain your self-respect and manage not feeling anything too intensely.
Being aware of fears that are generated emotionally can mean the difference between discord, disagreement with others, and unnecessary conflict or confrontation that only ends up breaking down communication and/or burning bridges across which communication is no longer possible.
Fear is a close relative of lack of self-trust. This is a big reason why it is important to be self-aware. It is equally as important to be emotionally self-aware so that you can more accurately access the difference between fear and lack of trust (stems from lack of self-trust) so that you can learn or continue to learn to build the skills of reality checking and listening to someone long enough to truly come away with a clear understanding of what you felt and why.
Much of the emotionally generated fear that rises up inside of you when you feel you can’t trust someone has much more to do with whether or not you are able to have self-trust for your own skills to regulate your emotions, ask for what you need, uphold your boundaries, and exercise your voice in a way that engenders being heard so that you can effectively access what you are experiencing not only internally, emotionally, but from any external source or person.
Too often people tend to hear someone say something and decide what it means. They perceive often emotional fear based on what they heard. What they heard someone say is based on perception. Being emotionally self-aware enables you to be very clear about what you hear in a mindful here-and-now way so that you can double check with anyone as to what they actually meant versus feeling fear or distrust (lack of self-trust) based upon something someone has said.
We all may well have ways that we would prefer to communicate or to be spoken to. It isn’t realistic to think that we can control whether or not others meet this criteria. Therefore, in relating, relationships, with neighbours or Landlords, co-workers, bosses, friends. or with family, it is beneficial to be aware of what your own emotional fears are. What can someone say or do that triggers your emotional fear? Is it based solely on emotion for you? Do you check out what was meant to see if it matches how you heard any given communication?
Being aware of your emotional fear will help you to know what your boundaries are. It will also help you to know when to engage with someone and when to disengage. The more one is emotionally fearing a loss of control inside or in a situation, for example, the more one can be rendered less emotionally aware as one’s emotions rise up and block the logic you would otherwise employ that would help you to stay out of any conflict or uncomfortable communication in which you may experience from someone else what you are actually fearing more so than what they are actually trying to communicate to you.
Being aware of your emotional fear will also help you to more skillfully navigate relating with or to others in an open way trusting yourself, your instincts, and trusting that you can effectively give voice assertively to another about any boundary cross and not have to remain in any conversation or communication that has crossed a boundary.
If you are not aware of your emotional fear and your emotional boundaries then people can easily arouse the emotional fear response from you because you may easily and often feel trapped listening or trying to be understood by someone else when the reality may well be that another person can’t hear you or does not want to hear you – is too focused on their own wants, needs – is controlling and unable to meet you where you are. When this happens, rather than react or over-react being aware of your emotional fear and your emotional boundaries and limits will mean you can skillfully disengage without having to have things deteriorate or escalate.
Likely, every minute of every day, in many places around the world, people who are not aware of their own emotional fears are not able to be proactive in any communication breakdown, or in the case of a misunderstanding and may find themselves in an escalating conflict. The type of conflict that more often than not includes judgment and devaluation. As well as things said that in retrospect are likely not very helpful at all.
Being aware of your emotional fear can mean the difference between skillful de-escalation or disengagement and staying invested in an interaction for too long beyond the point where it just isn’t working, you aren’t being heard, and/or you have crossed over (or let someone else cross over) your limits and boundaries. Nothing skillful can be found after the point of no return in investing too much in being heard or someone else wanting to be heard when there is no meeting of the minds.
Skillful awareness of your emotional fear will help you navigate when it is healthy to try to talk something out with someone and when that point has been crossed. Skillful and practiced awareness of your emotional fear will guide you to knowing when you need to just stop talking or just stop letting someone else dictate to you – you will be clear as to when to stop communicating and why if any interaction is breaking down.
© A.J. Mahari, May 15, 2014 – All rights reserved.