I have been focused upon fear recently and how it frequently limits or dims my experience.
I want to be a writer. I am a writer. I have a beautiful book that is begging to be born through me.
My soul longs to be more creative. I took up travel blogging. I became an accomplished photographer. I began painting.
But it’s not complete. It wants this book, this body of work.
Fear, in turn, is telling me that I need to keep practicing architecture. It tells me nobody cares about this book or this body of work. It tells me I might fail. It tells me I won’t sell a single book and I will never make another dime. It tells me I could lose my home. It tells me not to take a risk. It tells me I am not worthy of this lofty project. It tells me…and the tears flow…it tells me: I am not enough.
Friends and I compare notes about the grip that fear holds upon us and how we allow a fear, whether perceived or real, to postpone or stop us from doing or believing. We’ve been supporting each other to be courageous, to take action toward our own authenticity while navigating the rough waters of facing our inner demons, our fear-based beliefs. As a result of our exchanges, I have found these four tools to be profound toward experiencing transformation in my relationship with fear:
1. Let the fear come to the surface. Bringing fears to the surface is a courageous act. By choosing to do so, I am able to question them and the stories I create as a result. Led by courage, I am rewarded with the opportunity to more consciously affirm or renegotiate the validity of a fear.
2. Accept that fear has an impact and get clear about what the impact is. When I accept that fear is present, I am able to see the magnitude of its effect upon my actions and choices. I feel the consequences such as stopping me from seizing a moment, from walking away from things that don’t nurture my soul, or from living the full adventurous life that so thrills me.
3. Make peace with fear by honoring how it ultimately wants to save us from pain.
4. Trust that facing fear—instead of stuffing it, overcompensating for it or checking out from it—will create opportunity for lasting change. Since I started facing fear directly, I have created new stories, am taking steps toward new results. I am experiencing more freedom and empowerment toward the big bold life that my soul invites me to live.
As part of my process of making peace with my fears, I wrote a sincere letter to fear:
I love you. I hate you.
You leave me breathless, panting, sweating; roused for hours in the night with my heart racing. Isn’t that love? I lie awake spent, starving and unnourished. Incapable of getting away from you fast enough, I shred every scrap of evidence of your existence and swear to never, ever allow you near me again. Isn’t that hate?
How many times have you knocked on my door promising to protect me, to hold me close and keep me from imminent destruction? I love you. You’ve sheltered me from being humiliated, from looking like a fool and saying things that could possibly leave me embarrassed. Your love is supreme.
Every time you come into my life I am at a loss for words, stopped in my tracks, incapable of separating from you. Ah love! But wait—in that state I have lost my voice, I cannot take action toward the cravings in my soul. I hate you, why do you hold me back?
I have a thrilling new idea then you show up and talk me down. You admonish me and claim that I am not enough, that nobody will want to read my book, that I can’t possibly survive if I take such a leap. You remind me that everything I want to share has already been said or done or mastered. Whew, thanks for making sure I didn’t jump out there and careen to my death. I love you.
I go to my day job, I pay my mortgage, I live in one place and I hang out with people so I am not lonely and I post cool pictures of my activities in order to be “liked.” Thank you fear. Thank you for keeping me sane and “normal.” I love you…sort of, maybe, I guess.
I read a verse from the Hitopadesha:
“The spirit in thee is a river. Its sacred bathing place is contemplation; its waters are truth; its banks are holiness; its waves are love. Go to that river for purification: thy soul cannot be made pure by mere water.”
Courageously, I begin my journey to the river of my spirit. I surrender to my creative impulses. I revere all life and my unique place in it. I trust that I can follow the banks of my holy river. Ah, there you are again, fear. You say it could be lonely, you tell me the journey will be long, you urge me to stay put, keep doing what is expected. You tell me I will be broken and alone if I follow my heart. You tell me it’s not enough to be, but that I must keep doing.
I shrink back from the edge watching the waves of the river ebb and flow with longing. I don’t know how I feel about you right now, fear.
I imagine myself kayaking down that river. Focused, fully present to the immediate moment, smiling as I bounce upon the waves. I am tossed about, set upon an edge, teetering between upright stability and upside-down chaos. I go with the flow. I am laughing with childlike glee.
Your voice roars: be careful, this is dangerous, we’re not in control, we could die, this is crazy. I leave the moment, questioning myself, wondering if I have the prowess to be here in this raging river, led by my soul. My instant of doubt topples me upside down. I should have listened to you fear. I love you.
Author: Carin Aichele
Image: Flickr/Aimanness Photography
Editor: Callie Rushton