Do you experience feelings of tension, excessive worry and physical changes like increased heart-rate, faster breathing and sweating? Are you stuck in an anxious pattern that affects your day-to-day living? Do you feel powerless over your anxious feelings and unsure how to balance yourself and feel in control again?
Anxiety management techniques are helpful, but if you want to break free from anxiety once and for all, getting to the root cause and working through it is essential. Anxiety is rooted in fear. When you’re consumed by fear, your judgment is distorted, you become frozen by doubt, unable to make the simplest decision. In turn, doubt and confusion is a breeding ground for more fear.
The key to healing from fear and anxiety is to patiently untie the doubts that bind you. While fear thrives on confusion, it dissipates in the light of clarity. Clarity is one of our greatest blessings. When you resolve doubts, you feel as though a heavy weight has been lifted from your heart. With clarity, you gain the strength and confidence to move ahead.
Simon Jacobson, in his bestseller Toward a Meaningful Life, addresses the roots of fear so that you can heal from the inside out. Eliminating fear from your life starts with gaining clarity on your unique purpose, so that you can truly accept yourself and trust your life.
Fear is a tremendous and complicated power. It is silent yet devastating, leading to anxiety and ultimately, depression. There is often no basis for our fear, and even when there is, we may exaggerate its power to the point where it holds us hostage. Fear is born of doubt and confusion. Should I accept this job or shouldn’t I? Will I be able to handle this problem or won’t I? What will my family and friends think if I make this change in my life? Such confusion is anathema to a human being, the emotional strain can be debilitating.
A person who does not have a clear objective in life remains confused. And confusion breeds more confusion, once we get entangled in the web of fear and anxiety, we only become more enmeshed in confusion and discouragement. If you are to lead a meaningful and productive life, your heart must be free from the oppressive forces of anxiety. You must introduce clarity into your life by acknowledging your life’s purpose and directing all your energies toward it. Toward a Meaningful Life will guide you in bringing clarity, confidence and direction into your life. Watch your fear, anxiety and doubt dissipate in the light of your inner truth.
All human fear comes down to the fear of annihilation: you fear losing the world around you, the world to which you are so accustomed. Think of a child who has but one toy — take it away, and the child will surely cry. Similarly, when people perceive the material world as the only world that exists, they are bound to fear losing it, because it is all they know.
Let us look at how foolish this attitude is. By its nature, materialism is fleeting. The food you bought yesterday is gone today. The money you make today will be spent tomorrow. The status and power you have worked so hard to achieve can be blown away in a gust of wind. When you build your life on such a temporary foundation, how can you expect to feel the least bit secure?
Making the material world your priority is the ultimate cause of fear. Even as you shed the many fears of childhood, you develop an entirely new set of fears. Instead of being scared of the dark, you become scared of not making enough money. Or of losing your job. Or of not being successful enough.
When you allow your life to be defined by money, by your job, by society, you become intensely afraid of not being accepted by others. Thus the cardinal dictate, “Do not be ashamed before these that ridicule” (note 1). Still, we yearn to conform. We are terrified to stand out, and we worry incessantly about how others perceive us. We fear that people will ridicule us or won’t respect us.
Think for a moment how empty that fear is. Human beings are inherently mercurial. Their moods change, their attitudes change, their values change. So when you are worried about being accepted by others, you are placing your happiness and security in the hands of unpredictable people — a moody boss, an obnoxious client. You are constantly investing great amounts of energy into pleasing first one person and then another. You are trying to be one person in the morning, another during the day, and yet another at night. No wonder your life is driven by ; no wonder you have no peace of mind.
You must not compromise your values and standards out of fear of how others will perceive you. This is one of the most difficult challenges in life, for we all want to be accepted. But accepted by whom? By people whose own standards are ever shifting? By people who themselves are only trying to be accepted by yet others?
The only person on Earth you need to be accepted by is yourself. You achieve this by integrating G-d into your life, which means devoting yourself to the purpose for which you were created. By following the divine laws of morality, you introduce sanctity and serenity into your life — and a sense of order. Only then will you discover the clarity that demolishes fear. Only then will you stop cowering in the face of the unexpected unknown. G-d has given each of us the abilities and resources to overcome the challenges that life provides. When you place absolute trust in G-d and acknowledge the true purpose of your life, even your most serious fears — of sickness or poverty or death — will begin to dissipate in the crisp light of G-d’s goodness.
THE WISDOM OF THE REBBE
Epilogue: The Rebbe as The Messiah?
References and Notes