If I hadn’t been honest with myself that I was being avoidant I would not have been able to admit to my friend that I was struggling to get started, which is nothing more than resistance (aka fear). Once we acknowledge the fear we have already done ourself a great favor as what we resist will persist, so by admitting you are scared you now have the power to move past it. Its similar to the alcoholic who denies he has a drinking problem. Clearly he cannot get help or take steps to change if he believes there is no problem.
Next: Ask your fear what purpose it has come to serve and is there any true danger here?
I should really give Nike some credit as often as I have borrowed their slogan to use with both clients and myself. As humans, we can often complicate things. The evolution of our brains can be seen as both a blessing and a curse considering how much we can overanalyze, theorize, and chase our thoughts. However, the benefit is metacognition, which allows us to actually observe when we are stuck in our head. Mindfulness is a great tool for unlearning such habits and can help us stay clear about the next best action step to take. For example, if we use the blogging scenario then I had to really ask myself what I was afraid of and how was my avoidance protecting me? The answer is simple. I was afraid of the message not being good enough; the age old story that rears its ugly head again and again and has fueled perfectionistic behaviors in me and billions of others for who knows how long! We all have a story (an ego to protect us), but we get to choose whether to listen and believe or acknowledge, appreciate its attempt to protect, and move forward anyway. So I chose the latter. In fact, I’ve been strengthening that courage muscle for a while now. Without it there are so many things I would not have been able to do in life.
For me, fear shows up on a daily basis because I am constantly trying something new and challenging myself to grow into the best version I can be. Making friends with our fear rather than judging it or ourselves for having it is the first step to transforming it. Today I challenge you to befriend your fear by creating art to embrace it! If your fear were an animal what animal would it be? Or maybe it’s another object or symbol? You can draw it, sculpt it, paint it, or even find the image in a magazine. Now let yourself describe it. List all its negative qualities: the things you really dislike and would love to disown. Once this list is complete allow yourself to explore what positive qualities this particular representation of your fear possesses.In all things there is a tension of opposites. There is not light without dark; night without day, nor fear without trust. In your fear, there is a trust waiting to be discovered. Let this activity be an invitation to begin embracing your fear, so that you may unlock your own courage to handle fear as it arises without getting stuck in an avoidance cycle as my blogging could have had I not confronted it! Post your experiences below…I’d love to hear what animal, object, or symbol you might choose to represent your fear and what it has to teach you about trust and courage.
P.S. In case you didn’t know I absolutely love nature…can’t get enough actually, so I chose a tattered pine cone for my symbol of fear. I spent some time sketching it and really getting to know it’s delicate, broken edges. The wind began to pick up and as I tried to keep it on my journal in my lap it blew away multiple times, and finally I began to chuckle at myself for chasing my ‘fear.’ I was reminded that the light weight and delicate, unique nature of this symbol held both positive and negative aspects in its ability to be ‘blown away’ and just like that my fear was gone again.
Look forward to hearing about your realationship with fear, so don’t forget to post your thoughts below!