During my 15 years as a mental health therapist and more than 25 years as a life coach and spiritual director, I have exposed that the most fear of every human being is rooted in the helplessness of childhood. This kind of fear can probably be described as an instinctual fear. That fear was born when children had to leave a fully protective environment in the womb. The cry for the first time is an instinctual reaction to survive.
The helplessness of childhood is indicated by at least 2 factors, such as (1) being physically handicapped even to fill the basic needs. Because of these physical limitations, children are not able to remove themselves from the dangerous situation, therefore, become highly dependent on others to give protection; and (2) cognitively limited, which gives limitation to recognizing danger, knowing who can be trusted, but instinctually surrender and trust to parents or caregivers.
Within this dynamic, fear becomes one of the primitive emotions and primitive imprinted dogmatic voice that teaches children to surrender and attach to their caregivers regardless of their condition to survive. Therefore, they are highly vulnerable to mental and emotional intimidation and manipulation. They are very sensitive to the reality of rejection and abandonment. The instinctual terror arises from the mind that thinks not in words but in feelings and images.
Most of the children I asked about their nightmares gave descriptions with specific patterns of similarity that they have about being chased and devoured by monsters or wild animals that can talk in their nightmares. Interestingly, these nightmares still occur even in children who have never been exposed to the idea of a monster.
The study (2008), published in the journal Sleep, suggests that most children’s nightmares may be linked to the child’s personality traits. Researchers found that most parents of preschoolers reported that their children had nightmares “never” or “sometimes,” with less than 4% having nightmares “often” and “always.”
Children with frequent nightmares were likelier to be considered anxious by their parents and have difficult temperaments. They found that the risk factors for nightmares shared common traits that emerged as early as 5 months of age.
Moreover, researchers also found that young children with frequent nightmares have similarity psychologically and emotional defects, as shown in the study of adults with frequent nightmares. Both of them generally suffer from distress and other emotional problems. Protective factors, including parents’ or caregivers’ capability to provide emotional nurturing after children awake from nightmares, also play a significant role.
The question is how to liberate the self from destructive fears that terrorize and paralyze your life?
Based on my experiences, at least three levels of approaches need to be incorporated into one’s psyche during therapeutic interventions.
- The first is the personal level. Because the root of the fears is probably in the helplessness of childhood, with professional help, you need to uproot the deep sense of worthiness, unveil the hidden self-worth, and redraft the positive self-image. Through the therapy process, you move from pessimism to optimism, embrace low self-esteem through positive self-talk, and transform self-critical to self-appraisal & gratitude.
- The second is the interpersonal level. Because of the fears rooted in defective primitive relationships with parents or caregivers, you must acknowledge that you are visible and voiceable. You learn to acclaim that you exist and are worthy. With the professional therapist, you move from rejection and abandonment thoughts and emotions to self-worth and mutually projected truthful, genuine relationships. The maladaptive imprinted dogmatic voices are then unlearned by replaying transforming voices from true, genuine, trustful, intimate, non-judgmental positive regards relationships. You are transforming all your senses from the sense of impossibility to possibility.
- The third is the transpersonal level. You embrace the areas of consciousness beyond the limits of personal identity. You embrace a greater sense of surrender, awe, and gratitude. You allow yourself to be transcended. You move away from your “ego-centered, ” continuously restating self-pity and self-stupidity. You come to believe you are not alone and are the worst victim in this universe. Through the profound healing therapeutic encounters, you and your therapist walk together to find gratitude, happiness, peace, forgiveness, and freedom from the depth that transforms you to experience the absolute within.
You learn to see, hear, and experience the possibilities. You have multiple chances and ways in the therapeutic process to reconnect with the “unlimited absolute peace, forgiveness, compassion, and total positivity.” You are “there” naturally, even without carrying a dust of fear. Beyond all of your accomplishments, you understand that these connectedness experiences are as free given states of grace. You experience your total worth of you because you allow it happens. You open and allow your mind and heart to be in the therapeutic journey. You interact genuinely in the profound therapeutic healing encounters offered, which then become sacred healing transforming therapeutic experiences. You believe in it and work on that wholeheartedly, yet you still let the possibilities from the unlimited blessings happen.
You are experiencing “Satori” (i.e., an experience that is often described as a turning over of the mind, surrendering, going through the gate, awakening, as a result of an inner decision to be in harmony with yourself and your physical world. It is a decision of sacred surrender, mind, and heart, to let go of control). Click here to read more about the meaning of Satori.