The origin of fear, our protection, and its resolution
We all have fear. If you think you don’t, you haven’t looked deep enough. And we have all built protection mechanisms to protect us from feeling fear. If you haven’t found any inside yourself, you haven’t known to look, or you haven’t looked hard enough.
We created these protections as children when we needed them to survive. As adults, these protectors are obstacles to living fully. They are also resources for our growth.
It is our developmental responsibility to discover and understand our internal protectors.
Each protector part is a gatekeeper that, once understood and experienced, illuminates the next. To follow this path, we must be willing to stand at the gate of fear that each protects.
I have been working with my parts with coaches and mentors for decades. I recently discovered one protecting my heart. I felt him again during a recent ceremony in the Colorado mountains.
I lovingly asked what he was protecting me from. Turns out he is trying to protect me from being alone. He thinks others will shun and reject me if I expose my heart and show up fully.
I could sense that this was true, that I had tapped into his core fear. But it didn’t make sense. I knew this part was actually a big part of why I feel alone. So, how did he come to think that creating armor around my heart would help me not be alone? My curiosity grew.
Looking up at the stars, I gazed into myself and more deeply sat with this part. This terrified, beautiful part of who I am. With curiosity as the vehicle, I extended my awareness further into the universe and deeper inside. And then it became clear.
I created him at the moment of my birth.
As we all are, I was born with a fully open heart. But as newborns, we are entirely impressionable, and modern-day culture does not encourage people to live with an open heart. Society is most focused on developing individuals who will produce and consume to continue the economic apparatus as it exists today. This is not the fault of any person or group. It is how human evolution has developed to this day.
When I came into the world as an impressionable newborn, I could feel all the closed-heartedness. I adapted to the world around me and began building layers of protection around my heart. Like a goldfish that grows as big as their habitat allows, I molded myself to my environment.
I wove armor around my heart to be accepted by others and not be alone. As I grew older and developed my ego to differentiate myself, the protector I created wove stronger armor to continue to fit in.
My first explicit memories of this happened around the age of seven, after my parents divorced. I lived with my dad during the school year. My sisters lived with my mom. My dad was busy working as a high school teacher and starting his own business.
I often came home to an empty house. When he came home late, I put the TV on a timer as I put myself to bed to reduce the fear of being alone.
Going to bed in an empty house, hoping to fall asleep before the TV timer ended, created anxiety about being alone. I strengthened my armor. And the nights when the timer went off before I fell asleep further drove my fear of being alone.
The protections around my heart worked overtime. I could not allow myself to fully feel that fear. As a young boy in my house by myself, it would not be safe. I put my energy into adding more layers instead.
Looking up at the Milky Way, I see how this protector has come to be, how he has learned to keep my heart locked up and safely tucked away. I feel for him, baby Josh, and little Josh, who needed him to survive.
But I'm a grown man now and fully responsible for myself. I am no longer a little boy who needs to protect himself from his emotions for fear of not surviving. I know now that feeling everything is the path to a fuller, more enriched experience of living.
I can feel the protector now. His shield is lower. He has lowered it because he feels me feeling his fear. I meet his fear with love and acceptance of its power and positive intention. I know the fear of loneliness, and it's okay for that fear to exist.
I am not in charge of what happens next. It may morph quickly. It may take years of returning to fear's gate and sitting in its presence before an opening occurs through which I may enter.
All I can do is create the circumstance within which change can occur and leave it to divine will, to great spirit, to god, to do the rest. All I can do with my many protector parts is arrive at their gate and attentively wait.
What happens when I am at last given entry? On this deep summer night surrounded by pinons and starscape, it begins slowly. I return to the ceremonial fire. I sit with the fear of being alone and give what arises to the flames. I get lost in sacred songs.
Over and over I allow my protector part to be afraid, and be afraid with him. I let go and find that we are not alone. Together, we allow divine entry.
As the evening proceeds, I feel with more heart. I watch as everything that flows through me flows out. With tears in my eyes, I watch the sunrise and see beauty, love, and connection everywhere.
And there, in the distance, I notice fear’s next gate. What protector, I ponder, awaits?
If you are called to explore the fears and protectors inside yourself, I invite you to reach out and schedule time with here. This is a path to develop self-leadership and become a better leader of others.