Excerpt from “It’s Easier Than You Think”, Sylvia Boorstein
One of the things I used to tell people as a way of explaining why I practice was, “I want to be a totally fearless woman.” I really do. At this point in my life, I’m not sure I’m going to make it to totally fearless. I’m very happy with “less frightened.”
I believe our most deeply rooted fears, the ones that have been the most prominent in this lifetime, become so ingrained in our neurological wiring that probably they remain part of our experience until the end of our days. Robert Stolorow, a primary spokesman for the Self Psychology movement, has written that no matter how realized or analyzed the etiology of a fear system is in psychotherapy, whenever the same constellation of events arises, the same frightened response will occur. No matter how lofty our insight, we are fundamentally animals, conditioned by our experiences.
I don’t think this is discouraging news; I just think it’s another piece of data about how the mind works. Fearfulness doesn’t necessarily have to be a big problem if we recognize that our fears are a result of the way we are wired, most immediately from this life and who knows from what other lives. We can acknowledge our fears and work around them. If I feel alarmed about something, I can tell myself, “This is a result of my earlier conditioning.” Telling myself that keeps me from taking inappropriate or unnecessary action.
It’s not embarrassing to still have fears. We can be all grown up and still have fears. We can share our fears with others. Fears, spoken aloud, never seem as horrifying as when they are kept secret. I am old enough to have actually heard Franklin Roosevelt say the famous line, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” I think he was right.