P1 In order to become what you truly are, the fundamental prerequisite is fearlessness. Every kind of fear amounts, in the last analysis, to fear of self; for if there were no fear of your innermost self, you could not possibly fear anything in life. People project this real fear onto any number of other fears. The displaced fears may be denied and covered up as well.
You recognize this fear by the constraint with which you encounter yourself, by all the more or less obvious forms of resisting, by your terror of letting go of your defenses and allowing the expression of your natural feelings. Your inability to let involuntary forces guide you is a sign of how much you distrust your innermost self. I wish to stress again that people who constrict their natural soul movements do so because they are afraid of them, afraid of where they will lead.
P2 Fear of not conforming to the social environment is another aspect of the fear of self. The inner reality may be at variance with the environment; the real values of the self may differ from the values of society. Only those who do not fear their inner selves in this respect will refuse the readymade values handed down to them. One of the most important aspects of the fear of self is fear of pleasure. The truly healthy and fulfilled individuals, who function as they are meant to according to their inborn capacities, can completely surrender to the life force with its pleasure currents as it manifests in them. They will spontaneously express this powerful force; they will not fear or reject it.
Those who are caught in guardedness and defensiveness and who are constantly watching themselves so that these forces cannot manifest, numb themselves. It is a deadness of feelings that also brings in its wake a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness. The average human being experiences some aliveness at least at certain times, but is so inhibited compared to what he or she could be that the full aliveness would sound unbelievable. And more can be had out of life if you become alive.
But you can become alive only to the degree you overcome the fear of self. Why are people afraid that if they are not guarded and constantly watchful with their will and mind, something dangerous might happen? There is the possibility that something negative and destructive would come out. And there is the possibility that something creative, constructive, expanding, and pleasurable would come out.
P3 You are not constrained, once you are an adult, by your past. You constrain yourself when you continue to hold back the constructive forces that were originally forbidden by others. Because positive forces are restricted, negative forces grow. Or, to put it more accurately, the positive force is twisted, disturbed, converted, distorted, and thus becomes a negative force. All negative energy currents must be experienced and owned up to. Giving up guardedness seems like annihilation because then something other than the watchful ego cooperates in the process of living.
P4 The acting out that happens daily in everyone’s life may not take violent forms, but it is all the more destructive indirectly. As long as fear of self exists, freedom and fulfillment of one’s life are impossible, my friends, absolutely impossible. Just as the body becomes thwarted when its needs are not fulfilled and it is not given the proper sustenance, so the human soul becomes thwarted when its needs are not fulfilled and it is deprived of sustenance on which it thrives—love, affection, warmth, acceptance of its own individuality.
Both soul and body require pleasure; without it you become crippled, your growth stunted. The healing of damage from insufficient receiving can be much better accomplished when you realize that you are not helpless about your past, that you contain forces that can establish a new balance; but this can be done only when you comprehend the far worse pain caused by the frustration of not giving what you have.
P5 Therefore many of you are pained at least as much because you do not allow yourself to give whatever it is you bemoan not having received and wish to receive from others. By “function” I mean work according to the laws of life that prescribe that the positive forces be passed on to others and that you receive from others what they let flow into you. Here the distortion was (in religion), and often still is, that love is a pious command that is fulfilled through sacrifice. Then the image forms that to love means to impoverish oneself.
Humanity fluctuates between these two extremes: either to remain the greedy, selfish child, demanding to receive exclusively and not being disposed to giving in the least, or straining for the false concept of love I just described. The fear of self must exist in both instances, for the natural impulse, the spontaneous urge, is to give abundantly—as abundantly and generously as all of nature does!
P6 The question may be whether to hold on to one’s old grudges, one’s old ways, which exclude others in resentment or censorship, or to allow a new spontaneous attitude to come forth from the depth of the self. The latter happens naturally, not by force; it includes seeing new realities about the other person that make the holding of a grudge meaningless; it sees no shame or humiliation in giving up arrogant pride; it sees no “lack of character” in understanding and forgiving.
Many such “little” incidents loosen up the block of withholding that causes more pain than any lack of receiving. The new way increases steadily, provided you do not stop the flow. The flowing movement is so beautiful that it cannot be adequately described. It contains a wonderful self-regulating mechanism that can be utterly trusted. To the degree you let go and give up a self-centered, selfish, self-pitying, or self-destructive attitude, fear of self automatically decreases.
P7 Because guardedness impoverishes and deprives, you inevitably become enraged. They frustrate themselves by withholding from themselves the intense delight and pleasure of being in the flow of giving and receiving. It is not an esoteric, otherworldly pleasure, disconnected from the body. It involves physical pleasure as well. Your goodwill to heal, to become free, can make you reach for the inner strength and resources to make and follow through the decision to adopt the new way.
P8 Your refusal to let go of the negativity and the refusal to give of yourself makes you unable to receive pleasure, delight, happiness—often even material success, which does not involve the emotions.
—The Pathwork® Guide