Day 2 >> Sacred Buddies >> Fear inventory - AKA the Venting Room
Welcome to Fear Inventory
Fear inventory is a practice taken from a 12 step group and there are communities all over the world of people who do the practice everyday.
It goes like this -
1 >> Write your inventory
2 >> Read your inventory (to someone who isn’t mentioned in it and doesn’t care about who you mention in it - your buddy!)
3 >> DESTROY your inventory
So now you’re probably wondering what the heck IS a fear inventory? And how do you do it?
In the beginning was the word…
Fear inventory always starts with a resentment that you write out like “God, I’m resentful at…”
[ Why God? I don’t believe in God. ]
That’s right, it says GOD. Must you believe in God? Errr, NO. (Thank God for that)….
Saying the word God in this instance isn’t about religion. It’s there to a mental muscle that gets you to think outside of yourself, to think of the always ever-present everythingness that is bigger than little ole you. When you speak to that thing bigger than you (whatever it is, in whatever form it is), it can quite literally shift your perspective from you as the finite entity writing your fear inventory, to you in the universe, beyond yourself, working for the betterment of mankind through clearing out your own stuckness and mental waste to better serve humanity beyond your own selfish wants and needs.
In short, you can say whatever the hell you want. Nature, Divine Consciousness, Goddess, Universe, Everythingness…who cares. The point is that you direct your attention toward that thing that’s bigger than you.
Shall we move on?!
1. Pick a resentment & flow
OK, so “God I’m resentful at…” and then you pick a thing. Picking a resentment doesn’t have to be directing you towards “a person” or even “anything awful”, it can be any stuck place you experience in your life. As big as “God, I’m resentful at my wife for hurting my feelings” all the way down to “God, I’m resentful at feeling sad”.
Once you’ve got your resentment, this is where the magic really begins.
"I have fear that…” is your next line. It could be “I have fear that I get my feelings hurt all the time”, "I have fear that I take everything she says personal even when it’s clearly not”, "I have fear that I don’t really care that she says what she says as I’m secretly manipulating her into not telling me something I don’t want to hear”…hypothetically, of course!
And you just keep writing “I have fear that” over and over again, filling in the ending with something that feels true. You’re learning to follow the fabric of your own mind and seeing where it takes you. And you’re starting to trust yourself that it’ll take you where you need to go.
So how do you know when it’s time to finish this resentment and go onto another?
Well, either something SO compelling comes up you can’t ignore it and you follow that impulse.
Or you’re just like “Meh, I don’t care anymore” or “I literally don’t know what else to write on this right now”. Don’t feel like you’ve gotta do it right. Just do it, follow the threads, switch topics as much as you want and see where it takes you.
The key here is to find your responsibility. Whether that’s your own responsibility in how you treat yourself, how you treat them, how you secretly think about them, how you secretly treat that resentment, or that hidden belief you have that suffocates you every time this resentment gets triggered.
Responsibility is freedom and fear inventory is a slow and non-aggressive way to slowly peel back the layers to our own suffering.
So right now, I’d like you to pick a resentment or something that you’re dealing with in your life right now. Something that bothers you, but perhaps not enough to completely overwhelm you. Let’s start out light. And you are going to do a fear inventory on your own.
"God / Life / Isness / Whatever, I’m resentful at…”
followed by “I have fear that…” over and over again. Make sure you write it out each time: “I have fear that”. We don’t just use any old sentence here. This is the least charged way you can dig into your resentments so it’s important to keep reminding your mind to see this is your fear, and nobody else’s.
I’ve done that, what now?
Now you’ve done your inventory, what did you notice? Were you annoyed having to write / type out the same sentence stem each time?
Or did you find it something you could trust in to guide your thinking to a place where it didn’t add any extra drama?
Was it hard to identify where your responsibility begins and someone else’s ends?
Separating our responsibility from someone else’s is the best part of our fear inventories, because over time we start to see in more and more subtle ways that we can’t change anyone else’s behaviour, but that we can start to take more and more responsibility for how we behave in response to them.
We learn to take 100% responsibility for our 50% share of the pie, without punishing complaining at the other person for not doing the same.
Now, the reading (2)
You might feel like a bit of a nutter right now. If you do, it’s kinda normal. All those hidden fears that were once confined to the insides of your pretty little head are now on a piece of paper and we’re asking you to read it to another person.
It’s vulnerable, maybe it’s scary, it’s gonna feel a little exposed, and it’s the most crucial part of the process.
NOT reading your fear inventory is like clearing up your trash-filled apartment after a party and then keeping the trash bags around for you to remember how good the party was in the future.
So we read it. You can read it to your buddy in future, but right now find someone who it does NOT relate to that you trust and ask them if you can read it to them.
When inventory is being read, there are some things you should bear in mind:
Don’t choose someone to hear your inventory if they’re mentioned in it or have any significant attachment to the thing you’re talking about
Read it out in the exact same format that you wrote it. Still saying “God, I’m resentful at…” for each resentment and “I have fear that, I have fear that, I have fear that” for each line.
If you’re listening to someone else read, do NOT comment, react to or have any facial expressions to what they’re saying, even if you agree or disagree with what is being said. It’s their truth, not yours.
When you’ve read all your inventory, read the final line to close it out.
“God, (life, cosmiverse, Bono, whatever) I ask you to remove these fears. I pray only for knowledge of your will for us and the power to carry that out. For me, and for anyone else mentioned in this inventory."
The emphasis in this final line is on offering those things that have come from your insides to something greater than yourself. If you don’t believe in God, let God be a metaphor and see what happens when you follow the format and if it has the impact on you that it’s had for so many others.
3. NOW DESTROY THE PIECE OF PAPER / CEREMONIOUSLY DESTROY THE DOCUMENT (PERHAPS MAKE BLOWING UP NOISES AS YOU DELETE
Congratulations, you’re free!! This first layer of resentments, fears and other mental icky stuff has been cleared and you can now do it all over again tomorrow!!
Give fear inventory a week of doing it and reading it daily, in exactly the format we’ve shown you. See how you start to feel each day. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s a practice, and it’s one that you’ll realise you can use daily to free you from the daily gunk we all build up. Once you have your buddy this can be done whenever you feel the need to vent and get clear and clean.
We are grateful to our brothers and sisters in the 12 step programs throughout the world for developing and continuing this practice.