Apprehending Your Fearful Emotional Racket with Love

Thought Cookie: Edition 9, Vol. 2

Thought Cookie: Edition 9, Vol. 2

655 Words of This and That

What’s Your Emotional Racket?

Years ago, a client of mine referred to one’s pattern of holding oneself back as “your racket.” I attached quickly to that idea. In this context, I understand “racket’ to mean: a recurring fraudulent scheme, enterprise, or activity you perpetuate against yourself in order to keep you from making progress, taking risks, or accomplishing significant milestones. Fear always has a role in most personal rackets. 

As humans, we have a hardwired sensitivity to fear. 

While we used to listen to fear more and use it for productive things like staying alive, the conveniences of our 21st-century life have developed a funny attitude to fear. 

Now, when we feel fear, we tend to deny it, suppress it, mock it, blame another group or person for it, and generally avoid dealing with it. 

I am no exception to this. I avoid my fear, struggle under its weight and engage in the magical idea that it will go away if I ignore it. It doesn’t go away. Processing and transmuting fear means sitting with it, listening to it, and allowing it to be.

When we avoid sitting with our fear, listening to it, we suffer. 

We create great suffering in ourselves, which is helpful for keeping us in our racket. 

I recently came across this teaching from the Kashmir Shaivism nondualist tradition. It taught, first there is the suffering of separation, then the suffering of not enough, then the urge to have to do something to be complete. The whole fear-based aspect of my relationship with myself seems to revolve around this racket. I heard this teaching, took it in again and again, and allowed myself to see the racket and really stare into the face of its power over me. 


How often have I felt myself clamp up and down on the feeling of being separated from those I love? From ideas I value? From an identity that resonated and felt close to who I was? From success I’ve had or achievements I’ve made? When I am clamping down, it feels like an unnatural stillness in me, a fire through my throat and heart chakra and a shut down of my energetic flow. This state ultimately leads me to scarcity. 

Not Enough

How often has that state transformed into corrosive self-talk? It never took me long to begin telling myself about my own failings and shortcomings and counting up the poor decisions that brought me to my current state. How often have I indulged the lie that if I only had this house or that money or that degree or this experience that I could have been enough? How often has that fear shoved me into the idea that if I now make a bad decision it will spiral me into another, worse state? How often, within this mini-racket did I become trapped in my own mind and heart?

Human Doing

How often have I then propelled myself headlong, forcefully into some activity that I convince myself will ameliorate both of the feelings of “not enough” and separation? How frequently have I burned myself out doing?

All the ever-loving time. All the time. 

Our rackets are thieves. They are sinister takers of our time and energy and mental clarity.

Just like a group of criminals in a movie, they must be stopped. 

To stop them, we must behave counter to how our instincts might tell us. 

First, our rackets must be seen and recognized.

Unlike the criminals in a movie, they must be held -- in compassion. They must be tenderly spoken to and gently stroked until they are in a state of sleepy non-resistant. 

Fear has been all around us this last year. Swirling, festering, doing its work in darkness and rearing its head in light. 

Our rackets may be on overdrive, our fear throbbing with our increased blood pressure, mental health challenges, domestic violence incidences, and waning social connections. 

I can only suggest good work now might just be to see them, to spot them -- and to love them. 

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What are your rackets? Do any of mine resonate with yours? How do you experience fear in your body? I’d love to know. Share something and allow it to be released a little.

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