Is it possible to find strength or even peace and love hiding behind your fear? Actually yes, that´s what I discovered today, and I´m excited to tell you how!
There are many kinds of fear, of course. The person who is not afraid of a raging bear will not stay alive very long. Fear is there to protect us, to make sure we don´t do anything stupid that will risk our lives.
But, if you´re like most people I know, it´s not the fear of heights or wild animals that is mostly present in your life. It´s something much more subtile – very often you might not even be aware it´s fear we´re dealing with. It´s just a strange feeling that´s stopping you when you want to do something bold, like telling someone you care for them, or showing someone the painting you just did – or even starting to do that painting. It´s fear of being rejected or not being good enough, or fear of wanting too much and getting disappointed.
The list of fears stopping us from doing things we really want goes on and on and on the surface they look different for each one of us.If you look closer, though, most of them can be sorted under very few “main categories”. I´m not going to dive into that today, however, since my main reason for writing this post is that I wanted to share an experience I just had while doing the exercise for the third day of the Momentum Challenge.
Here is the question I got in my mailbox: What’s the one thing you’re most afraid of when it comes to giving your gifts to the world?
I´ve been thinking a lot about fear lately. Doing what I´m doing at the moment, starting to try to reach out in the world with my message IS scary! Even though I know from long experience that I really have an ability to help people, claiming it in this way has arisen a lot of resistance within me. Mean voices in my mind keep telling me to stay quiet, asking me who do I think I am, and, for heaven´s sake, who would want to listen to ME ?!
The work on my website is going slow, since every word get questioned. So I´ve been doing a lot of work to find out what is REALLY going on, and the answer is as simple as embarrassing: My greatest fear is to make a fool out of myself. That´s it. Fear of getting embarrest, of feeling STUPID. No raging bears wanting to eat me alive, but the result is (almost) as intimidating. (here I could go on explaining how our subconsciousness cannot distinguish between real and imaginary danger, but I will save that too to another day, since I want to get to the point)
So I´ve been asking myself what would be the worst case scenario etc. but somehow this kind of thought experiments never helped me much. I´m also very familiar with the “root” of the feeling (the “childhood hurt” that is behind, which very often is the case with our fears), but it still refused to leave. Instead, I´ve been using my normal ways of handling fear: To lover the danger level until I can do it with just a little bit of uneasiness or to outweigh it with another, even greater fear – like promise to do something for someone else, with a deadline, for example. The fear of making them disappointed and letting them down usually helps me get over my fear of failing with my task and I get it done. But also this means suffering.
With this said, when the day 3 mission arrived, I already knew the answer. And I thought I had it under control. However, I decided to try “the Resistance Destroyer” as suggested in the challenge. And it was really soothing.
The theory behind the exercise is this:
“To do this, we need to make a basic assumption: that any seemingly unwanted, frustrating, or negative thoughts have some kind of intended good they are trying to do for us that we can’t easily perceive.”
Behind my fear of making a fool out of myself is an intention to protected me from embarrassment. The ability to feel shame and embarrassment is something we share with some other herd animals, like dogs for example. The need to be accepted in a group is one of our basic needs, like the need for food and shelter. Behaving in a way that not makes the group reject us has been our ticket to survival for almost the whole history of humanity. This is a STRONG feeling, and nothing that is easily ignored.
Next level in the exercise is to ask what kind of feeling I´m trying to reach. I don´t want to feel embarrassed, I want to feel safe. I want to feel accepted. I want to feel loved. The feeling I want is love.
The final step is to realize, that I can have that feeling right now. I can create it within me. Puh, that´s kind of cool 😉 (I very much recommend you to try this for yourself. The exercise is part of the very cool free toolkit you get when you sign up for Paid To Exist´s mailing list, and is found HERE )
Now, does this mean that we should all stop trying to be loved by others, and just stay in our rooms meditating, since we can create the feeling of love anytime we want?
I really don´t think so – or, rather, I do think we should stop trying to make others love us, since that´s beyond our control anyhow, but I think it´s essential we keep doing things we care for, since that is what will create a long-term feeling of meaningfulness in our lives. But, as said, doing that is often connected with (irrational, but still) fear – and since I know all about how painful it is to be filled with fear as soon as you try to do something that matters to you, I think this is a very useful exercise to give you some rest.
Fear will probably keep coming back, time after time, but if you know what is really behind it, it might be easier to deal with. And if you know it doesn´t have to stay there forever, you might not have to feel as big resistance from getting started with your project in the first place. And the more you do the things you care for – even though you often experience fear in the initial phase, the safer you will feel.
If you ever learned to ski downhill, or ride a horse or dive from a trampoline, you know what i mean. The first times it´s horrifying just putting on the skis, but with time, the more your skills settles in your body, you´ll start to enjoy the ride 🙂
Over to you – what is your favourite trick for managing to do something that scares you? Please share it with the rest of us so we can learn! Comment box is right below, and yes, you can be anonymous if you want to.
Thankyou so much for being here 🙂 / Ann-Sofi