Getting to know our fear

 
 
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A year ago, a woman who I had just met told me,

"Every decision is the same to me. Either I choose love or I choose fear."

This totally blew me away. It was so simple and so profound. (My favorite kind of truth.)

 
 

Yes, in even our most complex, nuanced decisions, it’s possible to trace motivations back to either fear or love. And fear is such a powerful force that affects how we live even when we’re not fully conscious of it. Recognizing the power it has, I started to wonder, what does my fear want? Here are some thoughts that came from asking that question:

My fear wants me to stay at home, somewhere safe and warm. It wants me to be around people who are like-minded, who share my values, and who have already decided they like me. My fear doesn't like when I take risks, or when I'm too different from everyone else. It wants me to keep perfecting myself until no one could find fault with me. (And so that is a lifelong pursuit and a huge trap.)

My fear wants to protect me. But the protection it offers is limited; it only knows certain kinds of danger. Things like failure, being judged, making mistakes, upsetting people, and so on. It doesn't know about the pain of living a life that I didn't choose for myself, but was gently nudged or forcefully pushed into by invisible forces that shape all of our lives more than we remember to notice. My fear can't protect me from that, nor can it protect me from the passage of time, and that at the inevitable end of my life I am responsible for whatever I didn't let myself give to the world. My fear wants to protect me from getting hurt, but it can’t, and I actually don't need it to.

 
 

It took me a while to see my own courage, but now I do. (Excuse me while I humble brag for a bit.) All things considered, I'm actually a pretty courageous person. And actually, it’s thanks to this very fear. As I keep pushing the edges of what I dare to do and how I dare to live, I get to practice being brave all the time. And maybe this is how I choose love over and over again: by facing my fear, acknowledging it, and still living life as I really want to. I’m thankful to have a choice, and I’m thankful for both my courage and my fear.

How about you? What’s your fear like?  What does it want? And do you perhaps also find that it actually is what allows you to be the strong, courageous person that you are?

Thanks for getting curious with me,

Stephanie

 
 

PS. Some relevant words from Jim Carrey, in an amazing commencement address:

“Fear is going to be a player in your life. But you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we are making in this moment which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying, I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it. Please.”

 

The first step to creating change in your life

 

There's a really important first step that needs to happen when you decide you want change in your life. It's something that is often forgotten.

This step is: believing it's actually possible.

 
 

Change is really hard to make when you don't believe that it's possible.

It might sound so simple and obvious that it seems unworthy of even thinking about, but, I've found and maybe you too, that sometimes the most simple truths are the most profound.

So stop for a second, and really think about it.

Whatever you're wanting for yourself - do you truly believe that you can have it? (Awesome, go get it!)

Or is there some part of you that is secretly believing that it's never going to happen?

We do this to protect ourselves from getting our hopes up too high. Sometimes we want something for so long that we give up on actually thinking it could happen. We don't want to be hurt or disappointed.

But this part of us that is unwilling to believe is actually holding us back from the change we want to create.

 
 

I'll give you a simple example from my own life.

One change I want in my life is that I want to sleep earlier, so that I can wake up earlier and be more aligned with the natural world and sunlight.

Though I genuinely want this, I have also been for as long as I can remember, someone who does not like going to bed at night. The child in me stubbornly wants to stay up.

So, I can already tell that part of me thinks, "Oh, that's a great goal. I would love that. But it will never happen, because I'm just not that type of person."

And THAT is the most fatal type of thought if you're trying to create change.

I have to look at those beliefs, and shift them.

I have to recognize that if I truly want to live my life in a new way, I have to be willing to give up my existing reality, and believe that a new one is completely, doubtlessly possible.

The new thought might sound something like, "Though I don't do this now, I know I am capable of sleeping and waking up early, and I believe it can happen."

This kind of thinking makes space for and welcomes the change into your life, and mentally prepares you for it. It opens the door to a new possibility.

 
 

I see similar patterns of hidden doubt happening all the time when people want something - people who want to leave a job, or move to a new place, or launch a new project.

Until you can fully believe something is possible, you are going to keep getting in your own way. Your actions are going to have little invisible traces of doubt. And it’s going to sabotage your efforts without you even being aware of it. If you’re not fully convinced that something is even possible, it will be really easy to just give up when things start getting challenging, instead of seeing it as part of the process.

So find that part of yourself, whatever part is not fully convinced that you can have what you want. Find a way to make peace with it, and let go of the limiting doubts. Let yourself fully believe change is possible.

Of course it's not as simple as just wishing everything into being. I may love the woo-woo ways, but I still believe in the active roles we must take in bringing about a more fulfilling life. And still, it all starts here. First believe. Like really actually believe.

 
 

(PS. I believe in you too!)