Tag Archive for: Spiritual

Psychological Fears Revisited

Psychological Fears Revisited

We discussed types of fears in previous lessons. Let us revisit them now to see how they diminish our power and what we can do to minimize them. There are two types of fears: psychological and physiological. We will revisit psychological fears in this lesson.

Psychological fears originate from our egos. We may experience fear of failure or success. Our egos feel diminished when we fail and don’t perform to others expectations. We fear to succeed because we feel others will expect us to continue to perform at that new level.

Recall that warriors define “power” as the ability to keep attention at the moment. Fearing failure or success focuses our attention on the end result, which we cannot control. If we fail, we fear how others will judge us; if we succeed, we fear we won’t be able to continue to succeed at that level. Our attention is distracted onto how that end result will impact us.

We need to notice when this occurs and redirect attention to climbing. Climbing is very simple: we need to go from the bottom to the top of a cliff or mountain, taking the reasonable risk along the way. We will stop at stances to think through the next section then we will commit to climbing through that section. Then, repeat. If we notice our attention shift to thoughts of failure or success, simply redirect attention to this process. With our attention focused on this process, psychological fears diminish, and we retain our power to act.
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“May I be happy, and have all the causes of happiness,
May I be free from suffering and all the causes of suffering,
May I live in equanimity, with neither attachment nor aversion.
May I live in loving-kindness toward all.”

This is the Buddhist equanimity prayer.
Another version goes “May I live in the big equanimity, free of passion, aggression, and prejudice.”

Equanimity means accepting whatever comes, without choosing. In other words, it means accepting rain and sunshine without anger or elation, but rather with an “Oh, ok, rain is good for the flowers”. Facing life with equanimity is what gives those who cultivate it suppleness. It counters the type of cognitive rigidity that might allow a small hiccup to ruin your day.

Equanimity is one of the basic principles of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhists hold that dividing experiences, people and life in general into categories such as good and bad introduces judgement and distances us from ourselves and from the world. The process goes like this. We become preoccupied with our judgements, perceptions, past experiences and preferences and, as a result, in our reactions to what we meet on our paths, we focus on these old feelings rather than on allowing each new facet of life to impress us in the present.

Says Buddhist thinker, Gil Fronsdal on the subject:

“Equanimity is one of the most sublime emotions of Buddhist practice. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being.”

But what, really, is the point of equanimity?
Well, to cultivate a mindset that can free us from being hopelessly and wildly attached to a particular outcome or set of circumstances. Afterall, in the immortal words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want”. Equanimity helps lead life regardless.

Says Fronsdal:
“Equanimity is a protection from the “eight worldly winds”: praise and blame, success and failure, pleasure and pain, fame and disrepute. Becoming attached to or excessively elated with success, praise, fame or pleasure can be a set-up for suffering when the winds of life change direction. For example, success can be wonderful, but if it leads to arrogance, we have more to lose in future challenges. Becoming personally invested in praise can tend toward conceit. Identifying with failure, we may feel incompetent or inadequate. Reacting to pain, we may become discouraged. If we understand or feel that our sense of inner well-being is independent of the eight winds, we are more likely to remain on an even keel in their midst.”

There you go!
Now put a little equanimity in your breakfast cereal every morning. It’s good for your cholesterol!!