Riding the Horse of Fear

Existentialism, Trauma

Fear is something we all, to some degree, have a relationship with. And we spoke in our last post about the brain’s bias towards negativity (see Understanding the Emotional Brain).

Much has been written in the field of psychotherapy about this subject and how it plays out in our lives, whether consciously or unconsciously. The view of the existentialist psychotherapists (of whom Yalom is a great example) is that at the root of all fears are the four ultimate concerns: death, isolation, freedom and meaninglessness.
Riding the Horse of Fear

But What’s Our Relationship to Fear?

The power of psychotherapy is in the investigation of our moment-to-moment relationship to what’s happening now. In the case of fear, we can ask in psychotherapy (repeatedly, if necessary) what our relationship is to it?

One common such relationship is of resistance: we resist the experience of fear (by one or more of a range of potential strategies and addictions); we are afraid of fear itself.

The Alternative to Resistance: One Person’s Experience

Here’s a quote from Vicky Woodyard, a woman who has suffered greatly in losing both her 7 year old daughter and her husband to cancer.

Fear is a part of the human condition – yours, mine and everyone else’s. But here is the challenge and the solution rolled into one. Ride the horse of fear consciously. Choose it. Resistance to fear is what perpetuates it. We all know this. It doesn’t matter whether your challenge is cancer or not, ride the horse of fear by your own choice.

We highly recommend Vicky’s book LIFE WITH A HOLE IN IT: That’s How the Light Gets In – The Wisdom of an Awakened Heart for its fearless stance in relation to her experiences and to fear itself.