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Confronting the Fear of Death

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of July 24, 2006






Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2


This Week's Questions


[posed by Jen F.]
  • How do I heal my fear of asphyxiation?
  • How do I use Social Priorities to come out of shock?
  • How can I stop feeling that if I overlook something, my son will die?

Do you know?



[Question 1] When my first son, Jack, was born, I used to watch him breathing as he slept. In doing so, I denied myself sleep. At the time, I felt as if I was keeping him alive, at times, by my shear force of will. Even today, this painful vigilance is still a part of my life. For instance, I feel it each time I consider all the things which could go wrong if I were to let my guard down for too long. Now, I am pregnant for the second time, and this fear is adding distraction and fatigue to my already stressful life. Moreover, I know that if I am distracted and fatigued and worried about Jack, that I cannot consciously be there for him. My question is, how can I stay conscious of Jack in the presence of such distressing thoughts?
[Answer] Let's get right to the point, Jen. From what you wrote here, it is obvious, you are afraid your will overlook something which will lead to your son's death. What is also important to note is, you do not name a specific cause of death, only your vague fear. Thus, while I am sure your fears are very painful and real to you, what makes them worse is, you cannot specifically name them. This, then, is where you need to begin, by specifically naming your fears. What makes this important? Because fears like yours usually decrease in direct proportion to how specifically you can define them. Allow me to elaborate.

First, a generality. You seem to be experiencing this whole situation in before-seven time. This indicates your fears derive from a time in your life before age seven. Now consider the implications of this.

Can a child before age seven confidently mother a young child? Of course not. And would she feel anxiety if suddenly given this job? Absolutely. And even if this little girl was very smart and responsible, could she somehow use this intelligence to master such a difficult task at this young age? Definitely not. Moreover, she could not possibly even know what to watch for as far as what might go wrong. Are you beginning to see how what you are feeling must be coming from an early age?

Now for a moment consider possible scenes in which you could have incurred such a block. For instance, can you imagine yourself at age six or seven. No doubt, you were a very intelligent, and very over responsible little girl. Now imagine that some adult tells you in jest to watch an infant in a carriage or crib. For instance, imagine your mother telling you to watch a sibling or young cousin. Can you imagine how intensely you'd have tried to do the best job you could do?

Now consider the baby is struggling to turn over and in this moment, you try to lift the baby to adjust her or him. At the same time, someone turns and says loudly and abruptly, "Jen, what are you doing!" To be honest, this kind of a scene is all it would take to instill in you the kind of fear you have.

Do you need to know the exact scene then? To be honest, it's not important. What is important though is to begin to use what you can see; your symptoms, to infer a representative wounding scene. What then? Have someone use Emergence to work with you on this scene until you find a way to provoke the maximum fear in you, especially a fear in and around you overlooking some small detail which results in the death of a baby.

What then? Use Emergence to learn how to see past your stuck point, which I imagine is probably a scene wherein you see a baby laying very still. Challenge this stillness visually. For instance, see the baby waking up. Or see him crying, or laughing, or simply gazing up at you. Seeing any of these simple visual experiences can noticeably decrease your fears.

Finally, remember to have someone there with you, guiding you through this work. Your tendency, in most blocks, is to see life as if everything depends entirely on you. Which may be the very experience which injured you in the first place. You are not alone, Jen. You have many people around you who love you. And you are a very fine mother.

[Question 2] For some time now, I have struggled with a fear of asphyxiation. I have had, in fact, three near-death experiences before I was seven. Two were near drownings and the third was a choking incidence. All three involved my sense of time standing still; an injury ending in a stuck clock. In addition, I intuitively know there is some kind of connection here between these childhood events and my inability to picture myself on a boat in the ocean which gets back to shore safely. What I picture is, the boat capsizes and sinks, and leaves me adrift to drown, or to freeze to death like the people did on the Titanic. My question is, how can I begin to heal this injury?
[Answer] As always, the way to begin healing is to sort these experiences into two piles; the first being what you can see of these stories, and the second being what you cannot see. Let's begin with what you can see.

Like your first question, here again, you fear death. This time, though, it is your own death you fear. You also list possible causes this time; death by asphyxiation, by drowning, by choking, or by freezing to death. You also give a possible death scene; being on a boat which capsizes while out to sea.

Not surprisingly, you preceded these fears by saying that you had experienced three, related, near death experiences before age seven. This "before age seven" thing cannot be a coincidence. What I mean is, the human mind threads together whatever we believe to be visually similar. Thus, even the simple fact that you stated these two questions in the sequence you did tells me these two questions are, for you, somehow related. Further, I would also guess that your first question experientially predates your second. Why? Because with the first question, you offer no specifics, while with the second, you do. This offers us a clue as to the wounding scene as children get older, they get better at offering details. In all likelihood, then, the injury in this second question, in some way, stems from the injury in the first question.

In addition, this second injury is in all likelihood adding detail to the first, and it may be a hint to what underlies your fears as far as your son dying; perhaps by asphyxiation. Or not. But this fear is a possibility.

As for where to go next with this second injury, what I'd suggest would be to further explore your three childhood near death experiences. And as you offer no details, I'll confine my comments to the theoretical and suggest you explore scenes involving water, choking, drowning, ships out to sea, freezing to death, etc. For instance, a guide might ask you to, "Picture a scene in which someone drowns. Now tell me what you see." And so on.

What usually happens is, there are several levels to injuries like this, each involving a less specific fear. Working your way backwards in time to scenes in which you see a younger and younger you would then be a good way to explore this injury. Finally, visually exploring alternate endings to these scenes would be a good way to reach for healing.

[Question 3] If I have an unmet need, or if I have a need which does get met but I still feel alone afterwards, what happens to this need? Does my experience of it move outward through Layers 5 and 6, and ultimately end up in Layer 1? If so, does this need then resurface back in Layer 7 again eventually? Finally, how can I satisfy this need so it does not keep resurfacing in me? Do I start by identifying block markers. Do I look for some prior painful experience?
[Answer] Jen, you have just asked a load of important questions. Thus, to make sense out of them, I'll have to take them one at a time, beginning with something you did not ask; how do you define, "needs."

What are "needs?" "Needs" are the way we experience unresolved aloneness. More important, because no normal human lives entirely in a connected state (in Layers 10 and 9), we all have unresolved aloneness and so, we all have unmet needs.

Knowing this is important. Why? Because this means that our unmet needs are never the result of us having been injured. Rather, they result from our flawed ability to remain connected. In other words, they result from our being human. Period. What complicates this further though is that injury blocks our visual ability to recognize some of these needs, when results in pathologically unmet needs. The result? We get symptoms. Then, because many of these symptoms hurt, we tend to blame the hurt we feel on things other than on our aloneness, such as on painful events, on mistakes we make, on ourselves, or on others.

Ultimately, because we, by nature, focus more on finding someone or something to blame rather than on connecting to each other, we end up feeling progressively more numb. Which then makes us even more unlikely to meet our needs and so, we experience more and more unmet needs, and so on.

So now, to answer your questions, yes, unmet needs send us outwards through the Layers, and eventually, we end up in Layer 1; in Personal Non-Existence. Which then causes us to neglect our needs even more, until at last, we are so symptomatic, we can no longer ignore these needs. At which point, these unmet needs resurface in Layer 7, as pure needs. And also, while we prevent cannot ourselves from having needs, we can heal as many of our blocks as possible. Which then means, we meet, and satisfy, more of our needs.

[Question 4] When pre age seven children are in pain, is their suffering greater because they have yet to develop a sense of historical time? What I mean is, does pain affect them more because they have no way to understand that their pain will eventually end? I ask this because I, myself, felt this way when I was giving birth to my first son. I felt that the labor pains would never end. I am also sure, this lack of time consciousness increased my suffering and in fact, is even now increasing my fear of giving birth again this August.

Because I at least mentally understand historical time, I know my pain will end at some point. Even so, at this point, I feel quite afraid, especially considering the event is still six months away. Does this mean, then, that my fear is coming from an unknown in my unconscious? Or is it simply my fear of being alone?
[Answer] Had I answered these questions when you first asked them, I'd have probably offered you a much different answer. Now, several months and some good healing work later, my answers will have been coauthored by you. And by our work together. Now to answer your questions, let me start with your first question: "When pre age seven children are in pain, is their suffering greater because they have yet to develop a sense of historical time? What I mean is, does pain affect them more because they have no way to understand that their pain will eventually end?"

Yes, Jen. This is true In fact, you have seem to have a very good grasp on concept. Know, also, though, that the converse is true as well. When pre age seven children's suffering ends, because they do not have a sense of historical time, they more easily forget the suffering ever happened.

As for your own difficulty with labor pains, my answer is again, yes. Your fear is coming from an unknown in your unconscious; the obvious unknown being you cannot access giving birth in after seven time. What I'm saying is, you seem to have experienced the pain of your first son's birth in before seven time. This may have injured you so badly, you now expect all future deliveries will be exactly the same, including that during the birth, you will fear the pain will never end.

What to do? I have several suggestions. One. Makes sure you can watch the birth monitor screen. This way, you can see a temporal display of the progression of each contraction. Why is this important? Because this is the easiest way for you to visually experience after seven time.

A second thing you can do is to have your husband of birth coach time and announce to you the time within contractions as well as the time between contractions. Many birth coaching systems, including Lamaze, teach women to focus on this very thing.

A third thing you might focus on would be to focus on the contractions themselves, specifically on how the build and fall away. Thus, while the whole time of a contraction may be painful, the experience of pain ebbing is far easier that the experience of pain building. Timed, this would then divide the contractions into building and ebbing, effectively decreasing your relative sense of the pain.

Finally, you asked if this fear is coming from your fear of being alone. Jen, the fear of being alone is never the real fear. The real fear is the fear of disconnecting including the ultimate disconnect; death.

My intuition tells me this birth will border on easy. Given you now have a bunch of things to try, I'm sure this will come true. Good luck.

[Question 5] Right at this moment, I am in Layer 7, and I feel needy, probably because I am in shock about traveling tomorrow. My inverted first Social Priority is Things / Organization, and so I am having strong urges to insist to my husband that we pack RIGHT NOW! Instead of doing this, I am trying to go move my Social Priorities towards Understanding, which is my normal first Social Priority. My question is, would it be easier for me to come out of my shock about traveling if I were to stay in my neediness and in being alone? Does this work? And does healing this injury involve just being aware of how I am obsessed with things in the moment?
[Answer] You ask, "Would it be easier for me to come out of my shock about traveling if I were to stay in my neediness and in being alone?" The answer is, yes, it would be easier. I'm not sure it would be the best path to take though. Why not? Because while enduring pain is often easier than healing the injury which causes it, healing an injury offers permanent relief, while enduring injury offers only temporary relief. Thus, in the long run, your best bet would be to heal whatever is provoking this shock in you in and around traveling.

To back track a bit though, you are absolutely correct in your observation that being in shock has inverted your Social Priorities, in your case from Understanding to Neatness. You are also right that the easiest way to come out of shock would be to move away from this priority and toward your normal first priority; Understanding.

What might help you to do this, though, would be for you to remember to focus your efforts first on moving into your second-to-least normal Social Priority, and from there, back up the ladder. What I mean is, since your normal Social Priorities are 3-4-1-2 (Understanding, Freedom, Comfort, Neatness), then your inverted priorities would be 2-1-4-3 (Neatness, Comfort, Freedom, Understanding). Thus, to come out of shock, you would do something to move yourself from Neatness (which would compel you to do things like packing and so on) to something which would Comfort you, like taking a warm bath, eating a nice candle lit dinner out with your husband, etc. And while doing this at first might create more anxiety in you, you could then explore your anxiety for clues as to what the injury is.

Thanks for the questions, Jen.


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