JUST ONE LOOK
the purpose of our work is to rid humanity of the fear of life, one person at a time
Just One Look Method Testimonials Getting Help Blog & Podcast Articles Forum Donate Newsletter Books Videos International
Download the free PDF ebook:
The Just One Look Method  (314 Kb)
Die Nur-ein-Blick-Methode (439 Kb)

Just One Look Forum Archives

Using the Just One Look Method

<<< Back to forum index page

Fear of Life

Hello!

I am musing, and since we don't have a few comfy chairs and a coffee pot on the go and all the interesting people on these boards to share that with, thought I would put it here for conversation...thinking out loud.

My personal sense of the fear of life is that of constant vigilance. I have been aware of this in my life since I was very young. It manifested as anxiety about punctuality, appearance, dutifulness. Now it is constant vigilance that myself and my kids, animals, partner are well-fed, happy, warm, growing, safe etc...So I am always busy and always watchful. I see the fear of life manifest differently in others. In doing the looking I notice two things - a compassion for us (humanity), and a great sadness. Sometimes this sadness is very painful to me. I imagine this is part of the recovery, this poignant recognition of how we suffer and inflict suffering on other living things. And yet, I know, our reality is untouched by this.

OK, so back to the looking...

Best wishes,

Emma ~

There's a song I'd recommend you hear, Emma. . . . I'm unsure of the title, but it starts off with "You can relax now." Trimpi

Hi Emma,

Yes! I know the state of constant vigilance VERY well. I usually describe it as always being "on guard"-- always alert, always on the look-out, anticipating what might go wrong. It means that I can very rarely relax and almost never feel like I get a "day off" because it seems that the vigilance comes with me wherever I go. I've never heard it described quite so clearly as you have so it's a relief to feel like "I'm not the only one."

I had a strange experience waiting in a doctor's office this afternoon-- I was sitting there, waiting for them to finish some paperwork and I was aware that there was part of me that was wondering what I "should" be doing mentally in that moment. Should I be looking at myself? Should I be trying to be aware of my breathing? The strange thing was that I could see the scrambling for something to DO clearly in that moment and was aware that I'm just trying to keep myself safe, that it was the old fear of life rearing its head.

I've been doing the looking for over a year and a half now and it's strange (and wonderful) to see a much greater sense of acceptance of whatever comes up than I've ever felt before. I could never force myself to 'relax' or 'let go' or 'accept' in the past despite my strong desire and best efforts. A sense of acceptance and even peace seems to be arising more these days.

Thanks for sharing-- I'm glad you are here!

Take care,

A

Hello,

Thank you for the replies. Trimpi, I will go and search that one out! And 'A' thank you for sharing your experiences which are very similar. I too catch myself wondering what it is I 'should' be doing at any given moment to keep safe/protect/prepare/check etc. I was watching a film a few nights ago and I actually caught myself thinking that there was surely something I could be doing whilst I watched the film. This was a novel sensation - the self-awareness of the ever-restless discontent and anxiety. Maybe this is how it works. It is not that the years of programming fall away, but that the pointlessness of it became clear. I was very struck by what John said, that the point of life is life, just life itself (excuse the mis-quote!). I find huge relief in that. The machinery of this personality and body moves on, but the need to 'should' or add layers of purpose or angst and drama just seems less important if *this is it*, just life as it is. There is no end resolution, some point to reach, an attainment. I can't tell you how much weight rolls away with all that, and especially the attendant reading and trying to grasp arcane ideas from spiritual teachers.

I realise that this post is somewhat contradictory to my previous one. But this appears to be the process of working with the looking: panic/grasp, relax/allow...Overall I can say that even though it has been only since January that I have been looking, I notice significant lessening of angst, though this is coupled with some dreary old demons rearing their heads.

Thank you once again,

Emma ~

Fear of Life

Dear Emma,

My going sane has often been the way you describe, a big step forward and then a reaction from the old fears and patterns. And yes, for me, external events often appear as part of the process. I have come to know this reaction and don't pay much attention to it now. I know it is temporary. Shame is one of the major tools of pathology. It is almost like our society injects us early with shame. Shame may throw you off Looking at Yourself for a short time but not for long. And every time you get back onto it, the shame is weakened. Lera Jane

Hello Emma,

I too can relate to your hyper-vigilance, with a slightly different flavour. A little while ago it dawned on me that most of my activities were carried out with the goal of not messing up/making a fool of myself. What a waste!

And as I do the looking I see the see-saw of panic/grasp relax/allow as you say (I would use quote marks but haven't worked out how to do that yet!)

So who is this song by Trimpi and Lera Jane? I would love to hear it.

Susan x

Fear of Life

Susan

Hello Emma,

So who is this song by Trimpi and Lera Jane? I would love to hear it.

Susan x

I first heard the song years ago and felt its promise even then. You can find it on the internet.

It's a song by Shaina Noll called You Can Relax Now.

Lera Jane

(Note from Carla: this posting was slightly edited because for security reasons we don't allow external links in the forum).

Thanks for the interesting thread.

Reading this helped me to realize that I really don't think much about what the fear of life is, or whether or not it's gone any more. My guess is that it really isn't a big deal, which rubs my histrionic conditioning the wrong way because there's still that inclination in there to make everything a big deal. What I've been noticing is a crack in all of my neurotic inclinations, and very subtle outcomes that I would have never been able to predict: like in the thread I started last night about how I feel more but it bothers me less. The feeling more is somewhat unsettling at times. I still have an tendency to stutter mentally, like a dear in the headlights, when trying to share my ideas in a group setting, such as the classes I'm taking at a university. But the reverberation and the self-deprecation that still follows these events doesn't last much more than ten minutes after I leave....smily

Anyways, just thought I'd contribute some. It's really nice to see these forums getting busy!

Much Love

Mike

Mike, I've noticed that too about the short-lived nature of my reactions to things said or done or inferred that would have taken me down in a tailspin from which recovery would take a good chunk of time before undertaking to look at myself on a regular basis. 10 minutes is about right for the bigger stabs; most scoldings or insults or self-deprecation triggers are processed in a moment or two, which could be a full breath or so. It's not that I don't care; I just don't think I care THAT much. Trimpi

The experience of the fear of life is very faint and always the same I think.

What is different for each is how we name that common undercurrent of faint, watchful anxiety, and that naming is shaped by complex psychological forces that came into being in service to the fear, and are now in the process of being destroyed and rebuilt into the new sanity.

Also, it is not uncommon to mistake the experience of life itself, the life force, for fear. It is not uncommon to mistake the experience of the life force for many undesirable states. This too is the work of the defensive mechanisms seeking to find and destroy the threat they know to be here but cannot find. What cannot be found can always be projected onto any available experience.

The sadness you speak of is the weight of the misery of humanity, the mutual experience of the misery of all. This can become more intense as the defensive structures that came into being to protect you from the experience of compassion in the first place begin to fail. It is not so much part of the recovery as it is the sanity of the natural state in which nothing can be denied breaking through.T he sadness may remain, but the idea that it is harmful to you will soon depart.

Thank you for being here Emma,

John

John, you said:

Also, it is not uncommon to mistake the experience of life itself, the life force, for fear. It is not uncommon to mistake the experience of the life force for many undesirable states.

What do you mean with the life-force? Do you mean this kind of energy-current within the body that underlies thought, or do you just mean the general sea of cause and effect?

Thanks!

Chris

Fear of Life

Fear of Life

John Sherman

Also, it is not uncommon to mistake the experience of life itself, the life force, for fear. It is not uncommon to mistake the experience of the life force for many undesirable states. This too is the work of the defensive mechanisms seeking to find and destroy the threat they know to be here but cannot find. What cannot be found can always be projected onto any available experience.

John

YES. I realized a few months ago that was exactly the case with me. An analogy of a hose came to me. The water (passion/life force) flowed freely through the hose (me). Then because of the fear of life, I put a nozzle on the hose. When the water comes out through the nozzle it is explosive, prickly and uncomfortable so I label it fear or anger when really it is only squeezed passion. With recovery, I am removing the nozzle and relabeling my feelings by just noticing: I am alive. I am here. Thank you John.

Wow....

Wow....

Thank you all, I just read through this thread and it was very helpful!

Gail

Response to fear of life

Response to fear of life

John Sherman

The experience of the fear of life is very faint and always the same I think.

What is different for each is how we name that common undercurrent of faint, watchful anxiety, and that naming is shaped by complex psychological forces that came into being in service to the fear, and are now in the process of being destroyed and rebuilt into the new sanity.

Also, it is not uncommon to mistake the experience of life itself, the life force, for fear. It is not uncommon to mistake the experience of the life force for many undesirable states. This too is the work of the defensive mechanisms seeking to find and destroy the threat they know to be here but cannot find. What cannot be found can always be projected onto any available experience.

The sadness you speak of is the weight of the misery of humanity, the mutual experience of the misery of all. This can become more intense as the defensive structures that came into being to protect you from the experience of compassion in the first place begin to fail. It is not so much part of the recovery as it is the sanity of the natural state in which nothing can be denied breaking through.T he sadness may remain, but the idea that it is harmful to you will soon depart.

Thank you for being here Emma,

John

Dear John and Emma,

I just wanted to thank you both for this thread.

In particular John I'd like to reference your comment about how the sadness we feel is really the weight of the misery of humanity. I didn't seem to be able to isolate this sentence to respond to.

It fits so well with my experience today.

The feeling of a heaviness of sadness has been very strong.

"Goodness," my mind wanted to know. 'This can't be good, it hurts, it can't be good."

But perhaps there really are times when it is not only appropriate that we feel pain of an unknown origin, but it may even be a sign as you say John that defensive structures against the pain of ages are indeed beginning to fail.

Loving greetings to you both.

Chris

Thank you John and thank you all,

John, what you say makes sense to me. And the fear of the life-force itself is sometimes, ironically, like a death-wish - the desire to get it done with, do the next thing, get to the resolution, the time when it will all be safe and done, when I am safely 'asleep' and out of harm's way.

I understand whay you say about the sadness not necessarily being part of the recovery, but rather the sweet poignancy of sanity. The experience of life without gloves on! So all these deeper feelings are what life feels like when it is not being lived 'prophylatically'!

I continue to look and although each time is different, it seems to be doing its work...

Thanks for everything offered here, and everyone here.

Emma

EmmaD

The experience of life without gloves on! So all these deeper feelings are what life feels like when it is not being lived 'prophylatically'!

I love that Emma! Sanity: the experience of life without gloves on! So simple and direct.

Jenny

Haunted House

This thread is enormously encouraging. There are so many different accounts of how people are unprecedentedly becoming aware of their neuroses and disease and vigilance resulting from the fear of life, and also people are seeing the pointlessness of it and are finding themselves more and more free of it.

Those are inspiring reports. It's just really amazing to see the ubiquity of the progress here. I too have seen MUCH MUCH more clearly my various neuroses and mental stances that make me crazy. And, although they continue....

...well it's like traversing through a Haunted House after you already know where all the hidden horrors are: "Yep, here's where Dracula jumps out at you, sigh....here's where the fake spider drops on your head....oh that's right, now's when Frankenstein grabs you from behind....yawn...."

It's like seeing the negative patterns more clearly makes them not as terrifying. However, life still sucks much of the time, but hopefully that will get better.

@Suzan - when you are logged in, below each post on the righthand side are two icons. One is Quote marks in a box with the label "Reply With Quote." The other icon has a Plus sign added to it. If you click the first icon, it will take you to the reply screen with that entire post in quotes that look like {\quote\}. You can edit or delete anything you like between those quote references. If you click the second icon, it will put a checkmark on that post and all other posts that you click the same icon for. Then, when you click "Reply to Thread" on the bottom or top of page, it will have quoted all of the posts that you checked.

Hi!

I decided to recurrect this old thread since it had the perfect name for my question to John: I'd like to have some clarification for my understanding of the fear of life.

So, is the fear of life this fearful/distrustful/antagonistic attitude towards experience (and life circumstances in general)? Like things are a problem to be solved? That things are somehow "wrong" and I need to do somethings to get them right? I've recently noticed this "attitude" shifting back and forth, sometimes it becomes stronger and sometimes it's nearly gone. Or are these also the symptoms/consequences of the fear of life? What then is the fear of life itself?

Also if I've understood correctly you don't theorize about what is the reason for the fear of life (except the birth trauma -explanation) or why the looking works?

So if I simplify, there's the fear of life which makes life problematic and the looking which is the cure for that?

Thanks in advance

Hello again!

Still not clear on this. Is the fear of life an experience/relationship which I can experience or something that causes the experience of the fear of life?

Also as a bonus question: How was the fear of life -explanation arrived at?

That which we call the fear of life is the base context within which the personal psychology arises. So far as we can tell it is silent, apart from its effects, and can neither be felt nor related to in any way other than through its effects.

It may or may not produce a palpable experience of being afraid of life, but I suspect such experience would be stifled by the operation of the psychology anyway. I never had any sense at all that I was afraid of life itself, only of its events.

We arrived at this theory by the normal course of observation and consideration of our personal experience and of what we see in others. For more, you might want to read the ebook The Radical Act of Inward Looking, which was written by three mental health professionals, and is availble free of charge on our website:

www.riverganga.org/go/radicalactpage

 

This website is operated by
a husband and wife team through
the Just One Look Foundation