March 28, 2012


Fear travels with me every day. On some days it screams--when I try something new, make a mistake, allow myself to be vulnerable, speak a minority opinion, disappoint someone, or feel threatened. Other days it quietly chatters in my ear, but I don't listen. One of my greatest insights: fully feeling the fear is so much easier than constantly avoiding or fighting the fear. Fighting the fear (or avoiding it via distractions) exhausts me mentally and emotionally. Feeling the fear--while in the presence of loving-kindness for myself--actually softens the emotion. It takes the edge off the fear, and I can peer into vulnerability or sadness. Regardless, I FEEL and it's all okay (this flies in the face of what my ego tells me: don't feel anything, just busy yourself all the time, doing very important things--ah, the chatter of ego). The reality is that feeling difficult emotions actually softens them (eventually).

I know fear will travel with me all my life. I have no illusion that fear will disappear. That's not how life works or how the human brain works. But I'm listening to fear less and less. When I'm mindful, I hear the trigger thoughts or physical sensations, and then just sit with them. Underneath the fear is typically a message--for example, that I feel vulnerable or I'm tired or I need more self-care. In that sense, fear is a lovely travel companion; the scream of fear is an excellent indicator for me to do less and be more; to love more; to experiment more; to take better care of my precious self.

Mark recently showed me a YouTube video of a 4th grader before, during, and after her first ski jump. It's a short video (just under 2 minutes), but it's really powerful. Anytime I need inspiration to listen to my authentic self (which might be the whisper of a child), ignore the fear, and plunge into something new, I will watch this video. It's a lovely reminder that everyone feels fear, yet when we overcome fear the ride can be exhilarating.

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