Who’s The Real Culprit When You’re Afraid?

forest foggy one light

Friends and clients tell me that living life while whistling a happy tune is quite a challenge these days. Some say they are in wrapped in knots about politics. Some report they can’t sleep. Others can’t make decisions, and declare their life is in limbo. Others feel as if a rug has been pulled out from under them or their mind has gone rogue.

Are we scaring ourselves  — unnecessarily?


It doesn’t matter what’s going on in Washington, or whether we’re out of a job or lost in the bushes.

The answer is still yes. If we’re afraid, we’re scaring ourselves. We’re the cause of our own fearful state.

(This may sound like a stretch, but hang in here with me. This will be worth it.)


If I’m afraid, I’m creating thought images of a future that scares me. 

I’m imagining a scene, what might happen, what I’m sure will happen, what could happen. My actual life isn’t scaring me. My thoughts are scaring me. 

(Think about that. Go slowly here.)

If I’m a lawyer at JFK airport at the height of the controversial chaos recently, for instance, and I feel fear, what I’m afraid of is what I imagine in the future because of what I’m seeing. What I’m seeing is what I’m seeing, plain and simple. There I am in the airport, I’m there to help, and people are talking, standing, emoting, sitting and so on.

If I have fear, it’s the result of what I’ve added to what I see. My fear rises when I think things like, “This is terrible, this is wrong, and this means (fill in the blank) and then (fill in the blank) will happen to me or my friends or the collective “us” tomorrow or the next day.”

And before I know it, I’m afraid. Or angry. Resentful. Indignant. I’m completely out of sorts.

I’m not saying those feelings are wrong or inappropriate. I’m saying they won’t help me do what I came here to do. They won’t get me to a place where I can be clear enough to be supportive or helpful to the people I am here to assist. 

On the other hand, if I’m not projecting (opinions, emotions) on the situation, if my mind is centered and calm, I simply walk with clarity into the crowd of  people detained by the executive order, and do what I can. There is no fear, only laser focus. I move with swift clarity. Fear does not occur to me. I’m guided by something other than my mind. None of my energy is spent on blame. All of me is available as an instrument of peace, clarity, and right action (as I know it to be) and I move mountains.


Check it out for yourself. Next time you notice fear, tension, or strong negative emotion within you, notice your thoughts. Are they thoughts of sunshine and roses?

Probably not.

You’re afraid of what you’re thinking.

To compound matters, the moment I believe my scary thought, I reach down and pull the rug out from under my very own self and blame someone else for it.

I lose my power.

Nobody made me do it. I volunteered.


I’m about to give a speech, let’s say, and I’m nervous, even terrified.

I look look a little deeper. I investigate. I inquire. I am open enough to realize I have no idea what’s really going on, so I simply slow down and notice.

What are the facts? What does reality show me?

I’m not on stage. I’m behind a door. When the current speaker is finished and I’m introduced, then presumably, I’ll walk and then I’ll speak. But right now, I’m standing and waiting in silence. Nothing terrible is going on, nothing is wrong, no one is hurting me. Nobody’s throwing rotten tomatoes.

There is only the sacred silence of the moment. Me breathing. Me standing.

There is nothing to fear, right here, right now. Yet I’m afraid.

Isn’t that amazing?


white stones on white balanceMy mind has convinced me that something terrible might happen, so I should be proactive and get started now and be afraid of it, as if that will help.

If I’m afraid, I’m not present right here, right now. I’m ahead of myself. I’m imagining.

I’ve got myself revved up over — truly — nothing.

Even if I get out there and give my speech, and I falter, or can’t find my words for a moment, or a few sentences, or throughout the speech even, the only thing threatening me is my thoughts about what I’m doing or not doing.

Even if someone yells a verbal attack from their seat, “Hey, what’s the matter with you? Why can’t you talk?” it’s not me who has been attacked, but rather my belief system about how things should be going.

My belief system is not who I am.

In truth, I am standing, breathing, and speaking or silent. Everything else is made up.

The problem (stress, fear, etc) comes if I believe that who I am is my thoughts and beliefs. If I believe that I am my thoughts, I defend.

If someone attacks me, and I don’t defend, there can be no war between me and that person. There can only be words from another met with understanding. There can only be a cry for help met with help. There can only be anger or frustration or lashing out met with compassion.

If someone in my audience (or my family, my circle of friends, my government) yells at me, that person is in pain, and they expressed it.

If I am not in pain also, if I am standing in steady clarity, it is possible for me to respond in a way that can make a difference to that person. I am able to be resourceful. I am understanding. I am at home in myself. I am present. 

My presence is an unspoken invitation for others to do the same.

This is being in true service to myself and others. I am home and without a word of advice, by example I invite others to find home also.


candle hand meditationIt doesn’t matter how many facts I think I know. In the end, if my applecart is all upset, I’m fighting an imaginary scene in my imagination. This means I’m spending time on, and adding fuel to the fire of what I fear. I’m giving credence and validity to the very thing I say I don’t want. I’m actually making the problem bigger in my mind.

Maybe half of America is doing this along with me.

As I imagine negative things, and become fearful of those imagined things, I set myself up to be a perfect target, a perfect victim. Because I’m fearful and off center, I am vulnerable to the very thing I’m fighting against. I’m pretty much glued to it.

When the thing I fear comes true, my ego says triumphantly, “See, I told you so.”

I say that I suffer because of my circumstances. But that is not true.

I suffer because of my thoughts. I have not questioned my thoughts and beliefs. I fell for them. I believed them. When my mind believes a fearful thought, it searches (and finds) evidence to prove I’m right and I enter the victim cycle.


hearts curve metalWe can’t live a life past what we believe.

This is especially evident when I speak with individuals about their partners. A husband can only be (to his wife, in her mind) who she believes him to be, no more, no less. If he is different than what she believes, she can’t see it. If she is willing to grow an open mind, she will become someone who can see him.

My life experience follows my beliefs. If I believe my partner doesn’t care about me, I will find evidence for that. If I think something’s wrong with me because I don’t have a partner, or that life is somehow less beautiful or satisfying without one, that’s how life will be for me. It can’t be any other way. I can only see and experience what I believe.

Life offers invitations to open past the beliefs that cause me stress.

What’s left after I question the stressful thinking, and it falls away?

Will you join me in finding out?



In Care of Relationships, Terri Crosby

Comments (14)

  • RIGHT ON. The only one to suffer when I “resist” what is is me…
    And if I inquire about this false belief, I get to be FREE. And I get to love you and everyone else.
    Yep everyone. Some are easier than others, and all are loved.
    For “Love alone is Real.’
    (Meher Baba)

    • Thank you, Keldwyn. I think not believing in the sanctity of suffering is one of the most important ways to find self-empowerment. And yes, some situations are easier than others, so we start with the easy ones, and work our way into the others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Nailed It! Perfect coalescence of this concept about suffering as well as circumstances dictating, instead of the person embracing they always have choice!.

  • Right in the midst of this Fear around work. Sometimes the fear takes on a life of its own in body sensations. Then I’ve got fear plus a body on steroids. Your article came at a most auspicious time.

  • Dear Terri,
    With your permission, Rebecca shared with me your recent blog about fear. I shall say thank you. It rings of Truth. The Truth that is always true. Chimes of Freedom.

    It touches me as a perfect reminder, and rehearter, to choose to – as you so clearly write – stop believing our thoughts. Most of them are negative or useless anyway. What hits me most deeply is that you point out that we Identify with our thoughts.

    This is an Addiction.

    Probably the most common, and perhaps most damaging, of all human addictions. When I pay attention to myself and others, I realize that most everyone I have ever known is addicted to their thoughts. Your writing guides us towards this conclusion and to heal an addiction we must be aware of it. We must acknowledge it and claim it; not as who we are (Goddess forbid!), but as where we are stuck. Then, if we choose, can we consciously deal with it and move into the beauty of a miraculous life.

    Thought Addiction.
    Naming it is a beginning.

    One of the greatest gifts, and there are many, of the Ascendance of The Divine Feminine on the planet today, is the movement out of so much attachment to thought. Thank Goddess for the increase and expansion of Empowered Women today (and some men, too!).

    Your presentation is brilliant and much appreciated. Perhaps, as you help people see their IDENTIFICATION with and ADDICTION to thoughts, it will be easier for them to follow your gentle guidance and wisdom and move into The Truth that is always true.

    I just love what you wrote.

    In de-Light-Full Gratitude,

    • Steve,
      Thank you so much! Questioning thoughts that have us in a bundle is a surprising idea to so many people at first. Wait, WHAT? Don’t believe what I’m thinking? Do I have the right to do that?

      I often begin with the idea that believing our thoughts is an innocent act. There they are, we believe them and we suffer. What a relief to know there’s another, kinder and more empowering way. So freeing!

      Thank you for your generous comments and thank you for reading.

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