Fear is the cheapest room in the house. – Hafiz
July 12, 2013 by
Categories: Mindfulness

“Fear can manifest in a number of ways: fear of intense feelings, of personal vulnerability, or of potential victimization. Fear is a natural and healthy response to much of what we witness. If we lived in a society where all people were supported in the full spectrum of their feelings, if there were no right or wrong feelings for a given situation, and if, when one felt fearful, one could simply share that with others, receive support, and move through it, fear would have a different impact. Instead, what often happens is that we live with a great deal of fear as a result of our exposure or hardship, yet we may not know how to process it, and thus it occupies space inside us.” –  Laura van Dernoot Lipsky with Connie Burk, from Trauma Stewardship.

It’s always been interesting to me to externalize an emotion and place it in an image that separates it from me by a degree. I’ve used this language/tactic with clients in the therapy room, and have had it used with me. It offers a different perspective that is sometimes needed when you need to step outside of yourself and look at things from another vantage point.

For example, Laura mentions the “space inside of us.” That leads me to imagine that we are a home and are the creators of the pathways, the rooms, the energy, and the furnishings. For some, the room of fear may be the largest and the most constantly occupied, for others, it may be hallway that you walk through- sometimes too quickly to notice your surroundings, other times pausing to look in the mirror.

When I think of my own “room,” I realize that it’s one that seems to fluctuate constantly. I’ m not always cognizant of its expansion until I find myself hesitating and mulling over smaller decisions in conjunction with guilt. With each faltering step, I am laying down a rug, a painting on the wall, and making the room a more lived in part of my “home.” It’s so easy to become comfortable with an emotion that becomes familiar.

I ask, how do I shake off the unhealthy fear, the one difficult to process? How do live more in the present than worry over the past or future?

I’ll take the metaphor a bit further. To start, I’ll imagine what I would need to do to change this room to make it a healthier space- it’s important to note that I am not trying to completely remove it, but change it:

Now, I’m picturing the space where I occupy fear to start looking different. As this space evolves, it will be important for me to think about how something else will need to take it’s place (e.g. vulnerability) and how that will also add to the mix.

This may  not be a useful exercise for all, but for me, I feel like this is a tool in my bag that with practice I can conjure in moments of unhealthy fear. My goal is to not give power to the “room” and if I bring this images back to mind, I can break it down in more tangible steps. I mentioned in the second bullet to observe without judgment, because ultimately this process takes time and I believe you can learn a lot about yourself by learning about what makes you scared.  And being scared leads to courage.

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One Thought About Fear is the cheapest room in the house. – Hafiz

  • July 26, 2013 at 8:42 am Reply

    Love this! Especially that main quote. Keep up the great work! 🙂

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