barbara bassill

Conquering Fear

Fear is an interesting subject and feeling. For a large part of my life, I have lived in fear. When I was young, I was afraid of the dark; later that turned into fear of my teachers and professors. I realize now how often I lived in an imaginary world. I envisioned an outcome based on fear. Many times my fear became reality in my mind. It was almost as if I was a fear magnet. On one particular night, when I already had my three children, I had a huge fear about one of my sons. I couldn’t sleep. I was nervous, my mind was racing and seeing all kinds of pictures in my mind’s eye of what could happen to him. The next morning, after I had finally managed to get a few hours of sleep, I walked into the kitchen. There was my son, smiling and drinking his morning tea. I was relieved of course, and then asked myself: Why did I allow my mind to play such games with me? It took me quite a while in my morning meditation to be truly calm that day. After a while, I felt an inner peace coming over me and I heard the words of a wise professor in my spiritual psychology class saying fear is Fantasized Expectancy Appearing Real. I had an Aha! moment and realized on a deep level that fear in many cases is my imagination. Our minds play tricks on us. It is almost as if we cannot stop the thought, the picture in our mind’s eye of something terrible happening. 



There are times in life when fear is real, like the time I was attacked by a man in a parking garage. That was a real threat and yes I had fear for my life and safety. However, what I was feeling that night about something possibly happening to my son, was not real. It was an imagination and it cost me a horrible sleepless night. After that night of worry, and the following morning when I saw my son safely at home, I decided to explore my fear in general. I have a very vivid imagination. I became very much aware of that. Slowly, I began to analyze myself, searching for the root cause of my fears. My realization was that when I was a child my mother had a lot of fears. She would express them. Almost every day was something going on in her life that made her fearful. I realized that I had in some ways copied that into my adult life as a mother, wife and business woman. Having had this realization, I began a nightly ritual. 


I let the day pass much like a review in my mind’s eye. If there was something that I felt could create fear for me, I asked myself: Barbara is this real or your imagination? Most of the time it was the latter. The next step was to meditate and create a feeling of calm. I did that through slowing down my breathing. I then imagined a lasso that I would rope my thoughts or imagination in. I talked to myself like a mother would do with her young child and told myself that all was ok. There was nothing to fear. I was safely in my bed, as were my children and husband. What I was afraid of was not a reality, it was just an imagination. And I asked myself: “Is this really happening?” NO, it did not happen and most likely would not happen. So, why would I allow my thoughts to “go there?” 


After a while of calmly talking to myself, my heart beat slowed down, my breathing became calmer and I slowly but surely felt an inner peace coming over me. Fear did not help me, fear was not my friend and I didn’t need fear as inspiration. It can paralyze a person and really create havoc in one’s life. It is as my professor so truly said, a fantasy. These internal creations of  fear are not real. They are anxiety running loose when we lose track of what is really going on. While there are situations that present threats, danger, and discomfort, our gut will often tell us when there is a situation to be wary of. 


My learnings from these sleepless nights were and still are:


  1. Breathe in and out slowly
  2. Ask yourself is this real or an imagination
  3. Talk to yourself in a calm manner
  4. Meditate and ask God, Spirit, or any higher being you believe in for guidance and help
  5. Surround yourself with positive thoughts, think of something that is good, bright, and makes you feel good
  6. If all else fails, make a cup of hot cocoa and imagine a positive outcome


This does take some practice, and it is possible to conquer fear, slowly but surely. One moment at a time, one breathe at a time.

  After a long pause and a step away from…