Did you ever see the 1975 film called JAWS about a terrifying man-eating shark?
If you did, you might remember a scene of the shark circling below the surface of the water, but you can’t really see it. It’s not even clear that it is a shark. (Except, hello, the title of the movie kind of gives it away!)
The very fact that we can’t see the shark clearly somehow makes it even scarier. And that music, going “Da-Duh-Da-Duh-Da-Duh…” Yup. Iconic and terrifying! Some people even gave up swimming in the ocean after that film.
If you don’t remember it, you can check out the classic 1975 movie trailer here:
So why am I talking about JAWS? And what does that have to do with Abundance?
Let me explain…
When something is vaguely there in your consciousness, but you can’t fully tell what it is – like a shadow in the corner, or a sound late a night but you don’t know where it came from, or the unexplored depths of a dark closet – it’s somehow more scary than knowing in detail what the thing really is.
It’s the same for your subconscious fears.
If you have a fear or concern residing in your subconscious, it can cause a level of anxiety that is actually greater the more unexamined that fear is.
Like a shadow circling under the water, it can be very distressing. And you might not even be aware of how distressing it is. It may be something that your subconscious mind chews over while you’re sleeping, causing you to grind your teeth. Or it might be a vague sense of anxiety that visits you during the day, that causes you to want to stuff it back down again with some comfort food, or maybe a glass of wine.
We often avoid our vague fears, and let them continue to circle under the waters of our mind, because they represent fears which we don’t necessarily have an easy or immediate solution for. Or possibly fears that won’t ever truly have a solution.
For example… I have a child. She’s 14 now. I imagine that she still needs me in her life. But one day I’m going to die. That’s a fact. And, one day she’s going to die too. That’s also a fact.
What if I die too soon and she has to deal with that loss at a young age? What if she has to navigate all kinds of milestones… like college, finding a partner in life, maybe having a family of her own… without me? Or, instead, what if she dies before me and I have to deal with losing my only child?
These are fears that many mothers have, and they don’t really have a solution. They just circle around under the water.
Here’s another example: let’s say that I’ve found my dream home and I’m buying it. Happy days! But I have to take out a mortgage in order to buy it. Well, I’ve just created another fear: what if I lose my job or my main source of income and I can’t afford to pay my mortgage… and then my house gets taken away from me?
That’s a new and real risk that I’ve created by buying my home, and there’s not really an immediate solution for it. I can’t make that risk go away in this red hot moment.
Everyone has vague fears like these that circle around in their consciousness. Sometimes they surface during the day, sometimes at night while you sleep, sometimes they only present themselves as a niggling of anxiety at the edge of your conscious awareness. And like I said, they are potential problems that don’t really have a solution in the present moment. They can’t be resolved right away. Maybe there are steps you can take to minimize the possibility of a negative outcome, but you can’t really manage the risk down to zero right now.
So they circle.
When your fears circle below the surface like this, they drain your mental energy. They can even block you from moving forward by keeping you in fear and scarcity mode, and they can interrupt the flow of abundance in your life.
So what do you do? Just continue to chew on it subconsciously and let it drain you? What other options do you have?
I find it helpful to decouple the surfacing of the anxiety and the solving of the problem. Just because I can’t solve the issue right away (or maybe ever), I can still surface the fear and take some of the charge out of it.
I want to share with you a process for surfacing your fears that does not require you to find an immediate solution for them.
Whenever you have a vague feeling of anxiety, if you put your attention on it you’ll find that you feel a physical sensation associated with that anxiety somewhere in your body. Maybe it’s in your stomach. Maybe it’s in your chest. Maybe it’s in your throat. Maybe it’s all of the above… and in that case just tune into whichever location in the body that you feel it most intensely.
Next, spend some time with that sensation without wishing it away. Use adjectives to describe it. What shape is it? What colour is it? Is it heavy or light? Is it rough or smooth? Is it still, or is it moving?
Just watch it, observe it, and be with it. If it changes shape, colour, texture or weight stay with it, and keep on describing it to yourself. I even like to say to it: “It’s okay for you to be here. I know you’re trying to protect me or alert me to danger. Thank you. I see you.”
When I do this, I find that whatever the fear is, it’s not so scary after all. It’s there, but it’s acknowledged and seen. And somehow, that makes all the difference.
This is the subtle art of surfacing.
There’s one important caveat though: it’s better to do this process without diving into a meaning or a story around the feeling.
So don’t say to yourself: “yeah, I know what this is… this is my guilt about my brother” or “this is my fear about that thing that happened in my past, which I’m worried will happen again.”
It’s super easy to go down those meaning and story rabbit holes! But the thing is: doing that only stokes the fear and anxiety around the issue even more. It doesn’t serve to take the charge out of it.
However, if you stick to descriptions of the sensations in the body, like: “it’s a green cube, it’s smooth, it’s light, and gently vibrating… oh… now it’s turning blue, and round, more like a sphere… and it’s getting heavier, and it has stopped moving…” and just stay with it, describing it without attributing meaning or story, then you’ll find that it becomes less scary.
When you do this, the fear stops being a vague shadow circling under the water of your subconscious mind. Instead, you know exactly what it looks like. This works in much the same way as turning the light on and looking inside a dark closet. Once you’ve shined a light on whatever is in there, it can’t scare you as much anymore.
The only way to understand how this process really works is to try it for yourself. So pick a fear or even a vague sense of anxiety, and go for it!
Let me know how it goes. And, as always, let me know in the comments if this post has helped you in any way.
To YOUR Abundance,
Julie Ann Cairns