Being afraid has its upsides.
No, really. I'm not being facetious. We often spend so much energy trying to quell our fears, not realizing that they have important positive messages to tell us.
The positive-thinking movement would have us believe that fear is the enemy. While I agree that positivity is very important,
there's a big problem with this. My fears are part of me. Your fears are part of you. Trying to cut them off is like trying to attack our own body. How can your body be healthy if it fights against itself? It's the same with the soul.
Our fears are very valid parts of our humanity, and they
exist to give input into our lives, to help us make good decisions. I came up with a hypothesis recently, which is, a major cause of depression in our world may be due to people seeing their fear as the enemy, trying to kill it, and then being left with gaping holes inside.
take 3 of the biggest, most common fears that people struggle with, and
see what the real, and good, messages are behind them. 1) the fear of not having enough (money,
resources, etc.); 2) the fear of rejection; and 3) the fear of failure.
The fear of not having enough comes from a deep, very basic desire in
our nature--the desire to be alive, to survive. If something happens in
your life that activates that fear--a check bounces, you lose your job, you look at a business goal and think
it looks too exhausting, etc.-- what do you do? If you're like most
people, you will try to resist the feelings of fear and panic. (See my previous post for insight into resistance responses). However, the fear of not having enough is linked to this message: "I want to survive!" When you reject the fear, you reject the message behind it. Unconsciously, you are sending the message, "I don't want to survive!" (Ironic, isn't it?) What can you expect to happen if you start shutting down your survival response? Depression, lethargy, and suicidal thoughts. How can you possibly get ahead in life when you are stuck in those states?
2) The fear of rejection, is linked to a very normal desire to have harmonious relationships with others. If something happens in your life that threatens your desire for relational harmony, such as a fight with a loved one, a critical word, or the necessity of defending a controversial opinion, for example, you may find yourself dealing with this. The fear of rejection is linked to the message, "I want to live in peace with others!" When you reject the fear, you reject the message behind it. Then what happens? Depression, isolation, or combative behavior. How can you possibly obtain peaceful relationships when you are striving in those behaviors?
3) The fear of failure is linked to a completely healthy desire for significance in the world. Certain events can trigger this fear--starting a new challenging project, or getting some bad news at work or home, for example. The fear of failure is linked to the message, "I want to be significant!" When you reject the fear, you reject the message behind it. Then you enter into a fight with yourself, leading to--you guessed it-- depression. Self-deprecation, "workaholism," or under-performance are other possible symptoms. How can you succeed in life when you're digging yourself into these kinds of holes?
Hopefully it's clear. Your fears become self-fulfilling prophecies when you repress them, despite your darned-est efforts to the contrary.
How might these kinds of tug-of-wars show up in our dreams? Running away from ANYTHING in dreams is always a big clue that you have something, most likely a fear, that you need to face. I've seen it time and time again--when you reenter your running-away dream, and change it so that you decide to turn around and let it catch you, you discover that the scary being is actually a loving, supportive, transformational figure. Other themes to look for are fighting, extreme opposites, or parts of your body (or someone else's body) being damaged.
Contact me if you feel it's time to discover the positive sides of YOUR fears via dreamwork!
(P.S. this post is very personal to me, as I struggled with serious depression for many years. Depression is usually quite complicated, and isn't solved in a single day. However, it was through the process of working with my dreams that the depression began to lift. Finally, it was when I had the realization that my fears were actually my friends, as I shared in this article, that I felt the final strains of depression release. Since then, I've had several "threatening" circumstances arise, to test my discovery. Instead of fighting my fears, I worked to own them and find the real message behind them. And I was able to navigate through the difficult situations, which in the past would have triggered some major depressive episodes, with much more presence, life, and passion than ever!)