Pretend for a moment that you are brave —
then be brave.
In our previous post, we looked at the Top Fears. Today, let’s start to break those fears down.
Ranking in as the number one fear is public speaking, even trumping death. This means that people would rather die than speak at their own funeral.
But the Fear of Death is not about death at all. I can hear what you’re thinking: “Death is a direct threat to my survival! It’s not an illusionary fear, but a real danger to LIFE!” But keep in mind how the fear of death manifests in your life. The threat to your existence shows up in ways that sabotage your living your life fully. It’s really your ego that fears its annihilation, not your True Self. Essentially, a fear of death is really a crippling fear of the unknown. It’s your ego that wants to know what happens next. Your ego would love to solve the mystery of the afterlife before committing to the courage it takes to laugh in the face of death. This is the basis of the Buddhist concept of Beginner’s Mind, or No-Mind, abandoning this perpetual “need to know” what’s going to happen next. The moment you accept that you don’t know what will unfold, is the very moment you allow the wisdom of life to seep in.
The fear of death keeps you so scared that it can completely immobilize you, until you become comfortably numb. Like Saul Bellow wrote: D.E.A.T.H. means Dirt Enters At The Heart, a gruesome visual reminder of what happens when we let fear take over what our heart is longing for. Some people are so frozen by the fear of death that they never really begin to live.
As primal as this fear seems to be at first, it also translates into the egotistic fear of humiliation, the death of the “little self.” This is why most people are more terrified of public speaking than they are of death! Avoiding parties, social functions, blind dates, being the first to say “I love you,” or trying anything new comes from this devastating fear of being humiliated, driven by the ego-death knell that is shame.
In her first speech in over a decade, Monica Lewinsky, the famed first mistress of the Clinton era, talks about the perils of being a target of public scrutiny. Lewinsky has made it her mission to end cyber-bullying, inspired to speak out after the death of Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge after his roommate filmed him kissing another man and shared it on the Internet. Monica Lewinsky knew all too well the drastic effects of public humiliation, and could relate to wanting to kill herself, feeling “humiliated to death.” But, Monica didn’t kill herself; she persevered in spite of her very public sexual, romantic, professional, and political fall from grace.
This is typical for the Earth Mama archetype who is afraid of not having enough or being too much.
Next time, we’ll look at the other fears and how they affect each archetype!