Most of us, most of the time, are content to blindly skate on the thin ice, taking our life for granted. We choose patterns or strategies of behavior to try to control our world—in part, to help us avoid the anxious quiver in our being. We all have strategies that we’re familiar with, such as trying harder or seeking diversions. We use these to skate along, hoping to avoid having to feel the fears that we don’t want to address—such as the fears of loss of control, of failure, of being unworthy, of being alone, and so on. Rarely do we question our strategies; usually we just follow them blindly. But in following them we limit ourselves and define our own boundaries, and our life narrows down into a sense of vague dissatisfaction.
We have to start from the premise that we don’t really know ourselves very well. Knowing ourselves involves clarifying all the ways we’re run by the self-centered mind. This means we have to uncover our most basic identities and beliefs, observe our typical strategies of behavior, and perhaps most important of all, become very familiar with our fears.
From The Authentic Life: Zen Wisdom for Living Free from Complacency and Fear by Ezra Bayda, page 72