Review by Jerry Katz
A Thousand Headlights upon the Fear Self
Strong attributes make this recommended reading. One is the relentless characterization of the Fear-Self with over a thousand uses of the term Fear-Self, an average of four per page:
“A Fear-Self can only deal with another Fear-Self. The importance of this observation cannot be overstated. When we believe another to be her Fear-Self, we cannot see her authentic self. This means that in our world, we are dealing only with the confluence of Fear-Selves. This is why many of us are easily insulted: we take the stress and fear of others, which are always expressions of their Fear-Selves, personally. This is the cause of most interpersonal misunderstandings, disputes, and even wars between nations.”
Another strong attribute is reference to African hunter-gatherer societies and Native American practices and sensibilities:
“Hunter-gatherer children were loved and respected just as they were. Modern children must earn the love and respect of their elders, on their elders’ terms. This is the origin of the fundamental invalidation that all of us experience… .”
“When it appears you have hit rock bottom, the Peacemaker hands you a sheet of paper with two columns. One column is a list of healing practices that are Native American, such as sweat lodge, singing, dancing, and working with a traditional counselor; the other lists practices that are Western, including job training, substance abuse counseling, therapy, going back to school, etc. The Peacemaker asks you to take the list home, read it carefully and discuss it with no one. He asks you to circle each item that speaks to your heart and not necessarily your head, to return the list to the Peacemaker the next day. He has give you a little nudge that encourages you to become your own healer… .
Also a strong presence is the author’s many personal revelations:
“At night, when I get into bed, I feel the pressure to be intimate. This ultimately causes me to flee relationships. I am uncomfortable and feel no sexuality. … The Fear-Self is entirely self-involved. Everything that happens …. is about me. … Similar anxieties occur at work. I become inexplicably nervous around the boss. I have persistent fantasies of getting fired, winding up broke and homeless. … The grandiose Fear-Self is, in fact, nervous and vulnerable.”
Another strong attribute is the twenty-one exercises.
The ultimate element is the teaching that can get you to turn from identification with the lie to what you are. That turning is liberation.
“The difference between the liberated you and the imprisoned you is understanding. Through understanding, we stop believing that we are, in essence, our Fear Selves. What was serious becomes playful. What was fearful becomes interesting. Liberation moves us from living an insecure and compulsive life to one that is ultimately a life of play and depth.”
This book comments on the impact of living from the Fear-Self upon society and world, and discusses the option of a society and world created out of living from liberation.
Eric Gross shines a thousand headlights on your Fear-Self. Seeing the Fear-Self, and seeing who sees it, you might realize there is another approach to living life.