There are some situations which require us to be constantly alert and ready to take action to protect ourselves because our life depends on it. However, many people experience almost constant fear and anxiety even though they are aware that there is no immediate threat to their life or their physical wellbeing, they are aware that others would not feel such fear if placed in similar situations. This blog explores one possible source of such anxieties.
As you saw in our previous blog on fear, (http://exploringtheshadow.co.uk/2014/07/18/why-we-may-feel-overwhelming-fear-in-safe-everyday-situations-2/), When working with fear in Shadow Work we speak directly to the part of us that is working so hard to keep us safe, the part of us that deals with our fear and our assessment of risk. We explore the role this part is playing for us and how well it is able to assess genuine risks. However, we find in some instances that our fear is also closely related to our ability to feel and respond to anger, so sometimes we might need to do work around anger too. This is because if we don’t have a healthy relationship with anger then we are unlikely to be able to maintain strong clear boundaries with which to protect ourselves. The effect of this is that we can easily be invaded by outside forces, leaving us with the sense we are not safe.
In the seemingly unsafe world that this lack of boundaries creates for us our fear needs to endlessly step forward, ringing alarm bells about many everyday situations rather than trusting that we can handle these effectively and put appropriate boundaries in place. Instead of being a life saving tool alerting us only when we are under serious threat our fear ends up needing to be hyper vigilant. It engages constantly to help us survive in our unprotected state.
These potential ‘threat’ warnings from our fear are overwhelming because we don’t believe we have the strategies necessary to protect ourselves. We try to ignore the warnings as we don’t want to turn to face the perceived dangers. The warnings become repetitive and unrelenting, ending in worry, anxiety, panic attacks, and longer term psychological disturbances.
Working with fear in a Shadow Work context, we first investigate the nature of a participants fear, and its source as discussed in the previous blog. However we may also work with the participant to help them build a healthy relationship to their anger and to begin to set strong clear boundaries to help them feel safe. If we are able to build up these skills it’s possible then to have a much healthier relationship with fear, responding to perceived threats from a strong platform that is calm, and focussed, ready to take action if necessary.
We now no longer need to be overwhelmed by our fears or to try to ignore or override them, we can trust them, knowing we have the tools to respond when necessary. Our early warning system is in place and effective.
For further information about exploring the shadow please visit
To watch a talk about the Magician Archetype (Which is the Shadow Work Archetype related to fear)
To watch a talk about the Warrior Archetype (Which is the Shadow Work Archetype related to anger)