March 3, 2007

False Evidence Appearing Real

If you've ever attended a 12-step meeting, a satsang or a New Thought church service, you've likely heard that handy definition of fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. When I first heard that phrase, it was reassuring. For years I carried it around like a talisman to protect myself from feeling crippled by fear. Unfortunately, this didn't work!

Simply to say that fear isn't real is equal to saying that fear is real; it's another mental construct with no substance, no personal experience behind it. I didn't know the truth of this saying in my heart. The self-inquiry process of The Work—which I call Transformational Inquiry—allowed me to tap into the truth of this acronym.

The most frightening thing that can happen is a thought that frightens you; fear is the mind's habitual response to long-held beliefs. How do we know what's real and true? By questioning the thoughts that frighten us. If your child comes to you in the night in fear because there might be a monster in the closet, you don't say, "Your fear isn't real; go back to bed!" You take the child by the hand and look in the closet; nothing less than the truth will convince her. Similarly, in The Work, we take the mind by the hand, switch on a light and see what's really in the closet: clothes casting shadows, cobwebs in corners. If there's really a monster perhaps we can coax it out and tame it.

Today, when I feel afraid, I don't "hold my head erect and whistle a happy tune" ("For when I fool the people I fear I fool myself as well"—do you think Rodgers and Hammerstein recognized the irony of this?) I don't repeat self-soothing words to myself. Instead, I inquire to know what is real and what isn't.

Please join me on March 29 for an experiential hour of Transformational Inquiry with The Work of Byron Katie, an easy-to-learn, self-directed process of targeted questions and gentle reversals. Created by my dear, dear friend Byron Katie—formerly a homemaker and business woman from California who for many years experienced crippling rage and depression—The Work clears out the fears that no longer serve, enabling you to experience your core of courage, mental clarity, wisdom and joy.

There is no charge for this teleclass; long-distance charges may apply.

March 29, 2007
Fear Isn't Real: Discover Your Core of Courage with
The Work of Byron Katie

5:30 pm—6:30 pm PDT

For more information and registration, visit

Please note: this event is no longer affiliated with Professional Dreamer Week.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.


Fabrice said...

Carol Dearest,

In the "False Evidence Appearing Real" phrase, the falsity does not pertain to the fear itself. The fear is there, a feeling clearly experienced. In fact, it is that feeling (or rather, emotion) that brings us to The Work, as a friendly signal that we have attached to something that isn't true, isn't "real". It is what we tell ourselves about it, that is the "false evidence."

This topic came up in our Inquiry Circle, last night, where someone was arguing the assumption that her sadness was not real, and I tried to explain that her sadness was as real as she experienced it, as well as the "facts" (in her experience) that led her to feel that way. The only thing that The Work was asking her to question were the thoughts that gave rise to the feeling.

With love,

"We have nothing to fear, but fear itself" --F.D.R.

Carol L. Skolnick said...

Yes, it can be true that one feels afraid. And it can also be true that we're putting the word "fear" on a sensation which is not, in fact fear, and "frightening" ourselves with that. Which is why Katie sometimes asks, "Is it true you are afraid?" Sometimes it's excitement or something else...or she'll ask, "Is it true you are sad? In this moment now, are you sad?"

I wouldn't go into all that in an inquiry circle, though!