The Evolution of Fear

As I’ve been working on the second edition of Yes Yes Hell No, Nicole suggested I look at The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell. It blew my mind.

It was like learning a new language. For the first time, I started to understand the ocean of archetypes she swims in.

I still don’t think in archetypes. My computer-science-everything-goes-in-its-own-box-brain doesn’t work that way, and maybe it never will.

But I sensed the beauty and wisdom. I grokked a bit of her world. And I noticed something amazing.

The Hero’s Journey doesn’t just tell the story of spiritual growth. It also explains the evolution of fear. And then it pulls them together as two halves of a whole.

See if this resonates – it’s new for me, and I’d love to hear how it matches with your truth.

I believe that one of the most important questions in life is, “in the face of life’s challenges, how do you relate to your fears?”

What we resist, persists. So when you feed, flee from, or fight against your fears, they only get stronger. And when you embrace them, they drop away.

What I didn’t see is that this process evolves through four stages. Together, they form a spiritual treasure map – step by step instructions for the great journey Home.

As a race, we’ve embedded this map in all our great movies and stories. Yet I’d never really seen it this way.

The first stage happens when you feed your fears, they consume you, and you become angry, hateful, or evil. This is Anakin Skywalker going to the dark side after obsessing with his fears of Padme’s death. Or Voldemort becoming consumed by his fears of dying and his desperate need to create the power to stop it.

The second stage happens as you become a productive member of society. You become an everyman or everywoman, and learn to get along. Doing so requires learning how to flee from, control and repress your fears, so you don’t rock the boat, and stay in your comfort zone instead. This is Frodo in the Shire. Dorthy in Kansas. Neo in The Matrix before he took the red pill.

The third stage is where you break with conformity. You experience a Yes Yes Hell No, which is a call to adventure and spiritual growth. Your soul sends you a postcard, saying “wish you were here!” You feel a sense of purpose, an imminent danger, or a desire to make a difference.

It takes great courage to take a risk and step into leadership. At this stage, you start to fight with your fears and try to overcome them. If you focus this energy on accomplishments, you find that it creates success in the world but stress in your body. It adds to your bank account but takes from your joy. You see this stage in the big battles so many stories dwell on. It’s Batman vs. the Joker, Neo vs. Agent Smith, Luke vs. Darth Vader.

Our more childlike stories end there. The hero slays the dragon, wins the hand of the princess, and they live happily ever after.

But as you know, life isn’t really about a battle between good and evil. It’s about the dance between love and fear. The more interesting story is what happens AFTER the prince and princess ride off into the sunset. It’s the journey from Heroic to Authentic Leadership. It’s the path of evolving from being a spiritual prince or princess, to becoming a spiritual King or Queen.

And there is one essential, non-negotiable step to doing so: changing your response to fear. Instead of feeding it, fleeing from it, or fighting it, you learn to love it instead.

In this fourth stage, you embrace your fears. You make friends with them. You get curious about how they’ve been serving you the best way they know how. You embrace your Yes Yes Hell No and then take a Leap of Faith, trusting that ultimately, love is much greater than fear.

This is Luke refusing to kill his father and offering Darth Vader forgiveness instead. It’s Neo opening his heart to his shadow in the form of Agent Smith, simultaneously embracing his deepest fears while opening to the Light – and bringing peace to the world. This is Jesus having unconditional love for his killers – and being reborn.

And in the same way, just to a smaller degree, this is what happens every time you stop judging your fears and learn how to Make Friends With Your Fears instead.

We teach this process as the culmination of our live event. We’ve known for some time that this process creates a remarkably positive, persistent antidote for people’s anxieties and fears. It’s not as a magic trick or emotional get rich quick scheme. For lasting results you have to practice the tool and turn it into a habit. And seeing a room full of people, simultaneously making this shift – it’s an incredible thing. But I didn’t fully understand WHY the process is so powerful. Now I do…because in the space of 10-20 minutes, it helps you shift from feeding, fleeing or fighting your fears, to loving them instead.

I wrote this up in detail, as a new chapter for the second edition of Yes Yes Hell No. If you click here you can download it. I’d love to get your feedback on this – both on this email and the new chapter.

How does this resonate? What do you think? Is there anything you disagree with or that seemed unclear? Please post your thoughts in a comment below.

Then if it resonates and you’d like to learn this transformational tool for yourself, and receive a license to use it with your clients or patients as well – you can do so at our live event, October 21st – 23rd.

The Practice Building Breakthrough – if this resonates and you want to learn more about this tool and how to use it