I’ve been thinking about the role of fear lately. With my coach, we went over the Emotional Freedom Technique and used it to unblock my fears around money. We’ve then talked about how fear can keep us from continuing on our path but also strengthen our resolve to stay on it. Lately, though, I’ve realized that fear had come back in an unexpected way.
When I started my new job, I immediately felt a tidal wave of stress coming towards me. I kind of waited for it to come crashing down (which it did), since I didn’t know what else to do. As the days slipped by, the wave would come back and hit me again and again. I still didn’t know what to do to keep it from hurting me, so I reverted back to my old ways. My old ways are from my school days, whenever I didn’t want to work on a paper or do a reading. I would procrastinate and stew in my stress – which is probably the worst thing I could have done – until I sucked it up and suffered through the work. This time, though, would be different.
I talked to my coach, and we got to the root of the stress. It was fear. It was fear that I was not prepared for the work, that I was not suited for the job, that I would fail and get fired, that I would never get better… And this would affect everything else going on. It was a kind of paralyzing, viral fear that would halt my daily activities and make me do nothing but, again, stew in my stress. It was horrible, to be honest. But since then, I’ve learned a few things.
I learned that stress and worrying are rooted in fear. Fear is such a powerful and primal emotion that it branches off into other feelings and affects the way we think and live.
Self doubt is rooted in fear. Not feeling confident or courageous stems from the fear that we are not good enough and that we do not deserve anything more.
The biggest thing that I learned, though, is that fear does not go away. It is like a wave; they come crashing down onto the coast, but it’s not always frightening. Sometimes it’s gentle and soothing. I started to read “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times,” by Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun. After reading only one page, I felt a sense of peace and I had never felt so calm. Her words are like a gentle wave, soothing and nurturing. She wrote about fear and how it can reveal everything if you let it. You have to approach fear with intimacy, an intention of wanting to get to know fear and yourself. If you keep running away from fear or trying to distract yourself from other things, you’re not going to be able to make peace with fear. It will continue to be a monster or an enemy.
But I think you can treat fear like something that can be faced with an outstretched hand, instead of a fist or a shield. Maybe you can even become friends with fear. I’m not quite there yet, but I do know that you need to be able to come face to face with your fear. Only then will you realize that the tidal wave can be ridden. And it starts with a shift in perspective, a bit of courage, and an open heart.
So, leave some space in your heart for fear, and see what happens.