What is fear? A.K.A.: False Evidence Appearing Real. In this sense, fear is neither “good” nor “bad”, but it does serve a REAL purpose in your personal growth. In the recipe for greatness, fear is a necessary ingredient. Without it, we would not know success – just like we can’t know light without darkness. While contrasting shadows and light doesn’t soothe the pain, fear is part of the “chiaroscuro” of life that turns on positive change. The key lies in knowing the purpose of fear – but how?
Get Quiet. Fear is often masked at first by guilt, sadness and a plethora of other misnomers. Get quiet and unmask the first set of feelings. I guarantee you’ll find fear underneath. Then ask questions such as, “What is this fear showing me ABOUT me? Am I doing something out of step with myself?” Lean into it. Interrogate it with curiosity. Engage it in a line of questioning.
Allow: Become tolerant of uncertainty. Get comfortable with allowing time for the answers to evolve organically. The universe is not a cosmic crystal ball but a fascinating, unpredictable set of intricacies that is there for the taking. For example, the phenomenon of taste perception called layering explains how we perceive flavors sequentially rather than altogether, offering sophisticated blends that pique and fade across the palate. (A good curry sauce!) The universe can provide clarity through layering. So, fear can be the precursor to pain, followed by emptiness, followed by more fear, followed by clarity, etc.
“The only way out is through” or “what you resist persists.” Without welcoming the fear and asking what it serves, we not only miss an opportunity for potential but we’ll probably have to face the same thing again in another form. In sum, we delay our greatness - a greatness that we often “pooh-pooh” with doubt and trepidation.
Caution: This post may create fear in you. Use it in a conversation with a trusted friend or use it as fuel for your own private inquisition, but please accept it as your invitation to greatness.
“I don’t like Fear,” I once told a friend, “It scares me!” That had been my relationship with Fear until seven years ago when I attended a workshop called “Beyond Fear”. I secretly hoped it would give me a workaround for Fear — how to avoid it altogether. But no, the idea was to create a rapport with Fear, feel it, then move beyond it. Not get stuck in it. Not run from it. (Have you noticed that when you run from Fear, it chases you?) The workshop was life changing. I discovered that when I’m afraid and refuse to feel it, I attempt to control.
Control Doesn’t Work.
“News flash” right? Sometimes I forget and reach for control anyway. Which is exactly what I did with my mother last week. She had gone to the ER and released with a nonspecific diagnoses. Under the guise of concern, I told her she shouldn’t drive until she sees her doctor. While that might be good advice, my mother is a capable, adult woman who has managed to make her own decisions for longer than I have been alive. The conversation didn’t go well. She was offended (rightly so) and I was righteous (wrongly so).
Righteous Yields to What’s Right.
Days passed. I was uneasy about the conversation but convinced I was right. Then, while shuffling papers on my desk, my eyes landed on a random note: “Attempts to control always fail. Control, no matter the origin, comes down to fear.” Hmmmm. In my refusal to feel fear, I had reached for control which hadn’t worked, of course.
I called my mother and started a new conversation: ”I’m sorry for trying to control you by telling you not to drive. The truth is, I was/am scared…” We then had a beautiful, easy conversation about what really matters and about how challenging it can be to stay in the present moment when we are afraid. I noticed how close I felt to her and how surprisingly grateful I was for my Fear. When I simply let myself feel it, it led me to my heart and brought me closer to a precious relationship with my mother.
I was on an airplane last week, flying to CA, my home away from home, I noticed something. Whenever I am on a plane or in a car for an extended length of time, my creativity soars! Have you ever noticed that? All I can say is woohoo!!!!
For the last 6 weeks, I have had a block in completing my book proposal. There are a couple of things in play here. One, my fear of success poked its little head into the picture and started playing with me, and I let it. Second, it is summertime and I usually want a bit more free time, which left me a bit unfocused. And third, I got a nasty sinus infection this summer that really made me slow down for a few weeks. This combination had me take my attention off of the proposal and put it on other things.
At first, I was very hard on myself about being blocked. I know that I cannot struggle through a proposal on a book about Joy! As I let myself experience the disappointment of being blocked and lowered the bar that I keep so high for myself, the energy shifted. When I allow myself to feel what I need to feel, instead of trying to stuff it and hide it, I let myself off of the hook and trust that everything is happening the way it is supposed to. The proposal will arrive on the agents’ desk at the perfect time.
With all that said, I am thrilled to tell you that I worked on my proposal on that plane trip—joy and creativity were in the house! I do believe that the higher the plane, the closer to spirit. Spirit and I are tight—we work well together.
Now, back to trusting my feelings and my process.
I am just back from a quick weekend jaunt to the mountains. I spent a couple of days with my clients and friends, Cindy and Carmen, at my favorite cabin in Bryson City. We did some of my favorite things; eating, hiking and having rich, delicious conversations about our life and businesses. It was a delightful adventure. Each of us tried something new on this trip. Whether it was something new to eat, looking at a new way of doing business, or a new way to share information, we all explored possibilities in a safe, nurturing environment. My “something new” is playing with my new cute, pink video camera. My intention is to start sharing Joy Bites with the world in the form of video. It is now featured on YouTube. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4olZWLr17RY
It feels good to have this “something new” to play with. As I was loading them onto the computer last night, I realized that I was going to have to release my fear of “what people would think” and embrace trusting that my message would resonate with the people it is supposed to. I am now embracing trust as easily as I would a dear friend.
Before we left the mountain house yesterday, we were loading up the fridge and a bag of tortillas busted open and fell on the floor. We decided to toss them off of the deck so the birds and animals could have a snack. I couldn’t resist posing the question, “what are you tossing away–what does the tortilla represent that you want to leave behind?” Mine was fear. If you were tossing a tortilla off of the deck, what would you be tossing away today?