In what ways does fear show up in your life? Does it disguise itself as an all knowing, all seeing oracle? Fear has deceived me for years, but it’s not fear’s fault. It’s doing its job. Have you taken notice of what anxiety feels like in your body and what kinds of decisions are made when we act from a place of fear? The reason this system is important in our body is for survival. It is vital that our senses are alerted, and our fight/flight/freeze instincts are initiated when we are in a potentially dangerous situation. Our early ancestors survived because fear did its job. Fast forward to today and none of us are regularly coming into contact with a carnivore that may look at us as lunch, but we do experience ongoing stress that ignites our survival system. The thing is, this system wasn’t meant to be turned on long term. It serves to provide us short bursts of adrenaline and cortisol. When those hormones flood our blood system on an ongoing, regular basis – it’s like poison. Again, this isn’t fear’s fault – it’s doing its job.
Fear is a character
Prolonged stress has detrimental effects to both our physical and mental health. Going back to my first question to you regarding how fear shows up in your life – how did it evolve into a voice, a character, that became grandiose purporting to know what was best for us? Masquerading as wisdom, we are inclined to listen. I believe fear does this as a matter of self-preservation. Its sole purpose is to keep us safe. If we are considering options, weighing whether we have what it takes to step out on a ledge and leap, landing confidently on two feet, fear is going to raise a red flag. Alarms will sound, our skin will prickle, our stomach will turn in knots or butterflies, and we back down. Fear congratulates us, saving the day yet again. Fear feels accomplished. It kept us safe.
Letting the dream in
What happens when that fear prevents you from following a dream? Is it possible to embark on what tugs at your soul, calling you to action, without fear chiming in? I don’t think it is. I think fear needs to show up because it’ll tell you that you’re embarking down a path that is unpredictable, a bear might be on the prowl! It wants you to stay safe and away from potential harmful situations. If we listen to fear when it shows up in this way, we’d never do anything crazy and wild, or even leave the house. We simply would opt to live a life of mediocrity, pushing away the magic that the dream presents. There are individuals who learn this early on or have a stronger dream character in their inner world than a fear character, either way, those individuals are unstoppable. Do they experience failure? Yep. Lots of it. Do they keep moving, keep growing, keep learning, keep reaching, despite the failure that piles up? Yep, they do. They thrive on dreams. In their actions and decision to show up for the dream, time and time again, dreams never leave. They stick around, growing bigger and providing more and more clues to its fruition.
Acknowledge your courage
I have allowed fear to talk loudly in my life, retreating when it shows up, listening to it’s warning calls. The problem is, doing that time and time again makes that path the easiest and the most familiar. By acknowledging it, thanking it even, but still moving towards the dream rather than recoiling, takes courage. Sometimes it takes big courage and sometimes it takes everyday courage. I’ve experienced times in the past when everyday courage was a challenge. There are days when I have trouble finding my voice because fear pounds loudly in my ears. Overcoming those experiences can be just as heroic as deciding to take on life changing challenges or following a dream. However, if you start with everyday courage and recognize your successes in surviving, not dying as fear would try to make you believe, you’ll find that you can also apply this strength to bigger circumstances. It really is all a matter of perception and your perception is your reality.
You get to decide
In a few weeks I will be flying solo to L.A. to attend the Dreamtopia workshop. It could not be more aptly named. The leader of this workshop, Cathy Heller, is someone that speaks directly to my courageous character. Her, along with the many other amazing and inspiring people that will be present and teaching at this workshop will share their heroic journeys of capturing their dreams. Prior to deciding whether I would attend this workshop or not, I had to have a frank conversation with fear. Many conversations. Fear did not want me to engage my problem solving, initiating the assistance of my courageous character, so that I could figure out how to make the trip happen for me. Every step, from purchasing the workshop ticket, to scouring every airline’s flight schedule to fit my requirements, to booking a place to stay that is near the workshop, I felt adrenaline flooding my veins as I pushed through the fear. As things fell into place and peace arrived with each step, I showed this evidence to fear. I will do this, let me show you how.
I know that fear will show up again as the date arrives. I always feel fear with flying, so I’ll meet fear at the airport, actually probably the day before because it likes to tell me that I’ll be late. I’ll meet fear when I arrive in L.A. and have to navigate transportation to my Airbnb at 8:00 in the evening. I’ll meet fear the morning of the event telling me that I better just stay away because I won’t fit in with all those brilliant creative people. Each time I will thank fear for pulling up a seat, honor that it is fulfilling its purpose by keeping me alert and thinking ahead. However, I will let fear’s influence stop there. With each step I take on this journey and the larger journey of life, fear will be there. Just as it is with you. As self-actualized human beings that have the great fortune of not coming into contact with a bear on a regular basis or foraging for berries to feed our families, we get to dream. Dare I say, we need to dream. Dreaming and making dreams happen has become our new survival in the modern world.
As I sign off, I want to leave you with a quote that I heard recently that fits nicely here. Enjoy and let me know what you think! 🙂
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William G.T. Shedd