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Day 14. Understanding Irrational fears

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There’s been a recurring theme as you’ve gotten some backstory into the eight inner critics - they’re based on irrational fears.

Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. As fear is an instinctive response, the emotion itself happens without reasoning or knowledge although it’s an excellent guide once you have a consistent relationship with you - i.e. listening to you, something we talked about on day 4.

An irrational fear is not logical or reasonable. When irrational fears are running riot it means that even with the availability of knowledge and reasoning, the fear is fed and repeated. A lot of the things we fear aren’t logical or reasonable but we know this and can respond and help us to discern legitimate, need to take action concerns from a super busy mind that’s trying to frighten us out of vulnerability for some reason, but irrational fears being used in your life are treated (by you, the backing track and the original inspiration(s) for it, as being rational, and that’s where it becomes a real problem.

Aside from the fact that you are your own person and so what does or doesn’t work for somebody else that’s based on their fears doesn’t mean the same for you, an irrational fear is based on imagined scenarios not reality, plus it’s based on a story that you may have been teaching you (or that was taught to you) without question and discernment of the facts and actuality of a threat.

If [whatever you’re worried about] was happening, it wouldn’t be a fear (it would be knowledge), which hopefully you’d be responding to, so what you have to examine is, What has an inner critic been preventing you from doing?

If you’re not getting to live, if you’re not getting to grow out of the insights that you stand to gain from where things don’t go as expected and you’re not in the driving seat of your own life, who is getting a second run at life via you and taking over your controls?

Your inner critic and possibly a reluctance to ‘disobey’ what it says, tells you a lot about where through a pattern, you are remaining loyal to someone. Who is it? By remaining loyal to this pattern and also to this certain somebody, you’re keeping you small, you’re keeping you in a ‘child role’ and you’re keeping you stuck in the past.

Recognising that a lot of my inner critic is my mother/me repeating what my mother said or messaging that I taught myself in response to what she said or did, has taught me to have some compassion for both of us.

As I’ve gotten older and gradually more secure, I realise how much fear comes out of her and I’m amazed that this person had so much power over me in real life and that even worse, I parroted her stuff to myself for much of my adult life!

I’ve learned to do something both in reality but also internally that’s incredibly beneficial:

In much the same way that I’ve now learned to say thanks for your feedback (read: two cents, mouthing off etc) but I’m choosing to _________ , or not even saying what I’m going to do but going ahead anyway, I do the same thing with my inner critic. What I won’t do is automatically comply.

You cannot run your life on fear and that is exactly what happens if you spend your life complying with your inner critic.

Each type of inner critic backing track is versed at using irrational fears to control you.

This tells you then when you break down the track that part of it is about things that you’ve predicted as an imminent or potential threat for you, other people’s fears that have been projected on to you (or that you’ve absorbed), and irrational fears about the consequences of not listening to the original inspirations or the track of the inner critic.

There is fear in the form of it being an emotional response that alerts you to being under actual threat (take action), so you’re being chased, someone is being aggressive to you, you smell smoke and see flames, a combination of factors around a person is giving you the impression that you should fear for your safety etc., as well as fear alerting you to a potential threat (stop, look, listen, be careful, don’t proceed until you’ve gauged your safety), so you hear footsteps behind you as you’re walking home in the dark (you would use that fear to your advantage to be extra aware, street smart, move into a more light area, check your possessions etc), something you can’t quite put your finger on about someone’s behaviour or what they’ve said (you file it away, pay more attention etc), to one side.

There’s also the fear that comes from being outside of your comfort zone, even a comfort zone that’s uncomfortable. Irrational fears are used to keep you ‘safe’ in that zone, to stop you from stretching and it's not because stretching is bad but because the inner and outer critic are scared for themselves, ignoring reality and not giving you credit.

It’s your life, your choices, your fears you have to live with - not someone else's fears based on their experiences, fears and choices. Just because they made the wrong choices for them or certain things happened, it doesn't give them the right to remove your choices.

All of the irrational fears are just that, irrational, but what your inner critic (and even outer critic) does is use hyperbole, that incidentally, they won’t even take responsibility for (because if you take them literally, they criticise you for that too), to keep you in a place where it’s familiar so there’s minimum risk and thinking but there’s also the pain that comes with this. You end up either being anxious or using your inner critic to relieve you of that anxiety, which yeah, provides temporary relief but then the cycle starts all over again.

What we all never stop to truly consider about our inner critics is the odds of what they predict happening or even whether the fear is relevant or what the cost of pursuing that fear is.

The TAKEAWAY

  • Your use of irrational fears via your inner critic is a form of people pleasing. You want to please somebody, somewhere. You want to show loyalty, to pay for their issues, to even pay for stuff they irrationally blame you for, by letting them right the wrongs of their past by you.
  • Your worth is being derived from recordings of past experiences and critical responses - this is not fair or reasonable to you. You’re going to have to get conscious and be access the rational voice in your head so you can access the worth you already hold.
  • You can begin to access more of your inner voice by differentiating between rational and irrational fears.
  • Irrational fears from outer critics reveal their deep criticisms of themselves.

JOURNALING: My friend’s daughter was terrified of starting in juniors where they have detention. I sat down with her and asked her why she was concerned about detention when she’d never even been in trouble in the three years she'd been at school? We clarified that she hadn't been in trouble, she acknowledged that there weren't plans to be, but she also talked about what detention is and calmed down her fears by being more realistic about it. Write down some of your fears - you can’t know and get in command of what you don't claim - whose fear is it? If it's not yours, it's not rational. If it is yours, think about how long you've had this fear for - has it not been more painful to be living in fear and thinking about this fear than to actually experience it?

TASK: Use the Unsent Letter Guide to write a letter to your younger self, addressing some of the irrational fears that have come up.

Can you see the ways in which your inner critic was even judging their own experience harshly? When I stopped being inadvertently complicit in the judgment, I stopped being afraid of something I'd already surpassed but that I also knew didn't have to be the horror existence she imagined for me. I recognised where her fears were coming from but in treating me well, I was also able to acknowledge that her having four kids by two fathers wasn't some terrible tragedy! Try writing about yours in an unsent letter to them that specifically addresses the irrational fears.

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