Fear seems to be back in the United States — fear of being replaced, of corrupt government, of pollution, of not having enough money, of high medical bills, of change, of threats to our beliefs or ways of life, of challenges to our identity, of the unknown or unfamiliar. To be effective in our advocacy and outreach, we need to be aware of our fears and how they influence our thoughts and actions. This self-awareness can be helpful in recognizing the fears underlying others’ behavior, too.
In Sacred Laughter of the Sufis, interfaith minister Jamal Rahman suggests the following:
"On a piece of paper, make a list of individuals and authorities who have induced fear in you over your lifetime. Awareness is empowerment. In the next step, close your eyes and talk in the imaginal realm to the person or authority that generated the fear in you. With compassion for self and from a place of higher awareness, say whatever your heart desires. End your expression with an affirmation of letting go of your fear and release the person who induced it to the realm of Spirit. In the last step, burn the paper as an act of purification and release.
"Make a list of people in your life whom you consciously or unconsciously manipulate through use of fear. Reflect on ways you can minimize the fear tactic and replace it with something more life-affirming."
Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh recommends focusing on the here and now as an antidote to fear. You might try his suggestion for getting in touch with the present moment — bringing the mind and body into synchronicity by concentrating on your breath as you breathe in and out.— Habib Todd Boerger, Jamal Rahman, Thich Nhat Hanh in Practicing Democracy through Advocacy and Outreach by Habib Todd Boerger