The Fear to Look Within

Last week I wrote about how the way out of emotions that are obstacles to being aware of Truth and being at peace is not to deny or repress them but to go through them. But many people struggle to do this. And that’s because the first obstacle you encounter is a belief that if you look inward you will not be able to cope with what you find. Sometimes it seems you fear you will be overwhelmed by your emotions, but what you really fear is to see the guilt that you believe is there.

“…Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look…” (T-21.IV.2)

Guilt is what sustains the ego (personal thought system) in your mind. It wants you to believe in guilt. So as much as you might not want to look at the guilt in your mind, the ego is not threatened by you doing so. What it really fears when you look inward is that you will see past it. You will see that there is no guilt.

“…Beneath your fear to look within because of sin is yet another fear, and one which makes the ego tremble.
What if you looked within and saw no sin? This ‘fearful’ question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego's whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend.” (T-21.IV.2-3)

In your identification with the ego, the first thing you will find when you look inward is your belief in guilt. That is very hard to look at. But you have to remember that guilt is the cloud the ego uses to obscure the Light in your mind. You have to look at the cloud to look through it. You will eventually see it isn’t real. You will see past it. And each time you look inward and find a belief you feared to look at and see it is not true, you undermine the ego. The cloud gets a little less dense and easier to see through.

It is very hard to look inward at first. But the more you practice this the more you realize that you never find the horrible thing the ego tells you are there. And it gets easier after that.

I’ve released the belief in guilt in my mind. So I know the guilt in your mind is only a false belief. If you want help releasing painful beliefs, email me at to set up an appointment. Learn more at

If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others email it to me at and indicate that you want it answered in the newsletter/blog.


hannah said…
the resounding thing i have been seeing lately when i look inward, in any times where i am not looking inward (had to correct, id written omward, hehe) and experiencing a very sweet acceptance and Love, is abandonment.

ive been seeing it for a while now, but its been so hard to look at, as its nasty, selfish, and a huge fearful tantrum ,its so wilfully all about me, and a me that is needy, weak, unlovable and unloving. im almost constantly seeing others as abandoning ,e, and my desire to abandon them in return, either lash out then withdraw from them, or to just drop people from my life. it is intense. i can see its always been in me, but just deeply hidden from myself, repressed by my desire to be a good kind person. now im a bit less attached to that image, this other thing feels like its raging in me. im barely able to maintain my respect for people, and in this im seeing that i really dont HAVE a great deal of respect!

and then.. there i am again, briefly back in Love, in deep respect! glad to be looking at what im looking at, in trust.. and then back into guilt, and fear.. withdraw! withdraw! establish a great wall now, before you have actively tried to hurt everyone you care about!

i feel like im going mad.. well.. madder!

i truly am feeling a great love from within, most often like a gentle, quiet and loving background presence, occasionally right here and now with no fear of loss in being present in it. but then.. a storm of loneliness! the fear of loss and abandonment in contemplating letting go of seeking to fill loneliness. the only character i KNOW is that special, lonely hannah. i feel like im trying to kill her, kill something real. im scared! im scared of talking about this with you liz, just us face to face. starting here is chunking it down.
hannah said…
accept the condition of the self.. its own small private lonely world.. cease trying to perfect the imperfect. i have so much belief in and pity for that lonely self, and so much lack of desire to know anything else! turn inward to wholeness, if i cant bring joy to this self there!? bah! so much guilt for these thoughts!

well, im seeing more what you mean liz, by the fear that dropping habits of seeking for wholeness will leave you without a path to wholeness. sure part of me already knows that this would be knowing peace. but here i am in touch with the part that believes that to stop seeking for peace will mean death of all chance of happiness.

right now i just feel shame for exposing my crap. my tantrum, my lack of willingness to accept the inevitable. and yet.. here i am, still typing. hoping i might be able to see past the guilt for holding on so tight to this messy, unloving person who i identify as and am repulsed by? How on earth DOES one stop seeking for wholeness? isnt doing THAT, in itself, seeking for wholeness!??
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, you won't stop seeking for Wholeness until you experience Wholeness. So just accept the seeking, too.

You have perfectly described the vacillation between the Awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit) and the ego (loneliness, etc.). No need to feel guilty for the ego. It's just a false experience. Don't forget, it's the ego that tells you to feel guilty for the ego! You just go deeper into the fog. Feel the loneliness and the nastiness and all the thoughts that go with it and remember it's just a thought system. Remember the Other experience, even when you can't feel It. It will pass. It always does.
Unknown said…
Thank you Hannah and Liz.
I'm laughing because I caught myself trying to be even more "madder" than Hannah and ready to prove it so with my own guilt and unlovability. hahahha But then Liz reminds us with just a few words that quickly and efficiently point to Truth. Thanks you guys.
hannah said…
i guess the clearer and more inclusive the experience of Trust, the sharper the contrast to trusting pain. its got knobs on it i must say.

jacomina, we could start a 'were all madder here' club, and alternate presidency in a capricious and arbitrary manner ;)
Christine said…
I think I wrote this before...but in 2002, my sister and I flew out to Temecula to attend a 3 day workshop with Ken Wapnick. My sister was so funny - she said, "Well, if we lived in ancient times and heard of a wise man in the distant desert, we'd get on our camels and ride to hear him speak, wouldn't we?" So we made the effort to go out to the Foundation for ACIM. What I wasn't expecting were panic attacks! They were happening on the inside, no one knew, not even my sister! Just going to the parking lot, walking in the building, signing in...then they left, then they was very difficult. The ego was attacking, but I held on...they passed...then went away. Everyone was so kind, helpful, funny...Ken was warm, instructive yet not controlling or overbearing - no ego at all.
So glad we went. Came back and the panic was off and on for a few years...but I persisted (with the HS...)...but Holy Moly, That was really looking at the ego, in your face, non through it.
hannah said…
christine.. you can join the club if you like, though as an honorary member, i really dont think you are quite mad enough anymore ;)

seriously though, thank you for sharing xx i admire your consistency, and gentleness. you soothe!

Christine said…
Thanks, Hannah! Yes - not "quite mad enough anymore"!
Anonymous said…
I don’t think it is any accident that ACIM came through an individual from the psychology disciplines . “Western psycotherapy has some means for dealing with most kinds of problems. One definite contribution psychotherapy says there is a basis for these feelings and shortcomings and it’s possible to free oneself from them by uncovering their origin in the persons earlier life experience. This is different from most spiritual disciplines. It is also different from meditation, but it is likely to prove much more effective in dealing with problems stemming from the individuals personal history. In this respect western psyhotherapy can help set the stage for a much broader advance and spiritual development than has been possible in the past” Deikman ...I am just wondering if students in general might have a few basic personal issues to work through before they find their way to solving numero uno Guilt as was the case for Helen herself.
Paula said…
Hi Liz, I looked within yesterday. It was severely uncomfortable. I was looking at thoughts about the world not being real and then I was having thoughts that there is no real world. I felt very unstable, off balance and quite certain and fearful that I've gone mad and fear it will show up out here and I'll be so embarrassed because people will notice I've gone seriously bonkers. I experienced a great amount of panic. I quickly had to search my mind with the Holy Spirit to find something that would settle me. We decided on using a mantra, 'I am Real' which I repeated quite a bit and also 'I am safe in my True Identity, I cannot be harmed.' Although I'm still uncertain of my True Identity or even God I could at least agree with Holy Spirit on that I am real. Nothing else felt stable except this one tiny sentence.

After coming somewhat out of this experience I felt that maybe I shouldn't have looked within or maybe I had done it wrongly because I felt so bad and off centre by it. Liz, am I supposed to just sit back and watch my thoughts all the time? Is that all I'm supposed to do? Am I supposed to not dive into any thoughts and let them all go by? I'm aware that I can do that. Is this enough? I'm not sure when I'm supposed to call on the Holy Spirit. Most of the time if I'm just watching my mind I hear Him talk in between ego anyways. I feel I need some structure to this process. It's feeling sloppy. I feel I need more control over the process. I keep getting confused about my part in all this. Can you please clarify all these things for me? Thank you.
hannah said…
liz, what you wrote finally sunk in somewhat today. im finding i can ease my panic by reminding myself that feeling bad is not a sin. right there in those moments there is something spacious, and i do not crowd in on myself so much. thanks pal ;)
hannah said…
oh flip. (toned down for all you gentlefolk). i just saw the darnedest thing. (also toned down). if i want to have a red kind of day, then i can go around looking for the colour red.. and if i want a blue day, then i can go round seeking out blue. if want to know wholeness, then then it is crazy to go around looking for lack to fill. i need to LOOK at wholeness! just be open to that, in between all the seeking to fill the emptiness!

im a bit confused though. excuse me liz cos im sure youve answered this question many way/times before. WHAT is looking again?? not wholeness, right? wholeness does not involve perception, choice. is the only way to look at this now, that a mind that can be aware of wholeness or lack is looking? if mind is choosing.. then how can mind be truth extending mind/truth? is mind just a reflection of Truth? like.. the truth in me can be AWARE of Truth?
ACIM Mentor said…
Anonymous, it is through those personal issues that one can work out their guilt--if they choose to take it that far. Traditional psychotherapy only goes up to that line. It does not go past it. That's where Truth, meditation, and the Holy Spirit come in.
ACIM Mentor said…
Paula, your thoughts were about lack (the world is not real) so of course you felt unstable! It's a frightening idea when you are not in touch with Truth. And one the ego will abuse. But the HS came in and gave you the thoughts you needed to help you stabilize. That's what counts.

You only have to address the thoughts that give you an emotional charge. Those indicate you have a belief to look at. Call on the HS all the time. Make It your Constant Companion. Any time you have to look at a thought you should do so with the HS. Your only other choice is the ego, after all!
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, it is you as a split-mind that is looking. Part of your mind is behind the ego fog. The other part is in Truth. The part behind the ego fog needs to look through the fog at the rest of itself. So, yes, in the long run, it is Truth choosing Itself. But while it's in the fog it does not know this. Until it does...
hannah said…
clear, thank you :)
Stroudgirl said…
I have been reading your books for some time and I thought I should look you up on line. I found this blog and lo and behold! This November 1 message is just what I needed to hear right now! I've been going through some serious emotions from abuse I experienced in the past and these emotions can hit me like a ton of bricks to where they scare me and I feel I cannot bear them. But I feel I need to go through them and your message confirms my thoughts about it. I love your books, including the Mentor Articles! I have gained so much from them and they have helped me bring the Holy Spirit into my life. Thank you!
hannah said…
OH!!!! truth CHOOSING itself, not truth LOOKING for itself! i get it now! haha.. it WASNT clear before, laugh! the fog isnt 'a thing out there'!

and i finally SAW the nastiness in me as fear, really expereinced attack as fear. saw it not just intellectually, which somehow never really took the guilt out of it, though it DID made me willing to try and be kinder to myself, to try and apply Reason to my guilt. now, having seen that, its impossible to launch a counter attack on myself! abandonment, attack, being as alone as i can: from within this thought system they are all attempts to be SAFE! 'seeking wholeness' is seeking 'safety'.. and at that point i get back into intellectual understanding. (eg i understand how only a belief in lack can SEEK wholeness, and i understand how identity WITH lack makes ACTUALLY turning to wholeness fearful). i guess, that still experiencing fear, separation and guilt as real, and identifying with them as part of me, limits my understanding to an intellectual one at this point.

i am so scared, almost all the time! and almost everything i experience, the choices i make, come from this place of emptiness, and trying to push the fear away. this is specialness, right, Liz? its pretty devastating right now, to be honest. my loves are the same as my hates, in that they are pretty much all based around fear, specialness. olaugh.. its not AS devastating that my hates arent real.. but that most of my loves and enjoyments are nothing but attempts to hold my 'true' feelings about myself and my emptiness at bay. suddenly it feels hard to trust love, i feel shaken. oh.. what just popped into my head, is hearing ken wapnick say that you cant Actually Love anything you see as unequal, cant love something/one you see as different from you, that its impossible, that doing so is specialness. that Love is knowing sameness.. and im just seeing, that this equates to wholeness, here while perceiving separate minds. sameness, wholeness. i can Trust THAT Love. if what we ARE IS that Love, then i must be sane to Trust It.

oh, thank **** only the Truth is Real! ah, im off to meditate.. yep, still seeking, still afraid.. but who knows what i might find, or lose, in that quiet place! oh, it is so hard not to run! belief in loss feels so solid.
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, yes, being afraid all the time is specialness. Another way to put it is that it is the experience of the ego. You are just experiencing it without its usual covers.
hannah said…
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