I’m not big on the push-through-your-fear discourse. For most of us, trying to power our way through fear does more harm than good.
It’s very simple, really. Fear makes us freeze up, physically, emotionally and certainly creatively. We tighten. And when we tighten, flow is restricted.
And we don’t ever want to restrict flow. Not as creatives, not as lovers, not as human beings.
The pushing might move us forward, but what we create won’t flow. It won’t be juicy and alive and brilliant, and it won’t feel good doing it.
So what’s the alternative? If we’re not supposed to push through fear, and we don’t want to cave in to it, how do we do it? Because we all know that basically everything we want in life – deep love, creative flow, spiritual breakthroughs, business growth – lies just outside of our comfort zones.
I thought about that as I watched the recording of an interview with me the other week. It was a video interview (this one!), which means I need to show up to meet someone I’ve never met before, over screen, being asked questions live and having to answer them off the cuff, in a language that is not my mother tongue, and being recorded all the while.
A few years back, I just wouldn’t have done it. I’m a super-sensitive introvert, and each one of those challenges would have been enough to cause me to freeze up. now, a little fluttering is going on in my stomach, but nothing worse. I simply show up and do it.
And it’s not just that I do it. As I watch the recording afterwards, I notice that I’m not even bothered by the fact that I speak really slow sometimes, or that I forgot that important thing I was going to say, or whatever else might have been less than perfect.
I honestly think I’m quite awesome for just daring to be vulnerable like that. To be visible. To trust myself in the moment, without the safety net of preparation and without a manuscript. To trust life like that.
I listen to what I say and think, damn, you’re wise, woman!
And trust me, if someone ever had a harsh critic, it was me. But it’s just not very loud anymore, and I know that I would not feel this level of self-acceptance, had I not consciously faced my fears over and over again these last few years.
The thing is, I’ve faced fears all my life. I’ve always been an outsider, a risk-taker, a jump-and-the-net-will-appear kind of girl, but for such a long time, it didn’t make any real difference.
I had plenty of what looked like freedom on the outside, but none on the inside. All I knew how to do was to push. Relentlessly push and force and demand that I go one step further, always one step further, regardless of the needs of those tender, terrified parts of me. I wouldn’t even acknowledge that they were parts of me.
I was always frightened. Always. Not nervous – terrified. Frozen stiff. In the midst of doing all those things that looked like courage. Exploring new places, people and things, traveling across the world, exciting projects, creative challenges, beautiful lovers. None of it ever felt like freedom.
Not until I stopped pushing through fear, not until I learned the way of softness and flow and allowed myself to pause, listen, give myself what I need to feel safe enough, and then – only then – to move forward again. And OMG, the difference!
This is why I’m passionate about us learning to deal differently with fear. Becaues I know first hand that doors open when you do, and that true freedom waits on the other side.
And true freedom is not (only) about taking risks and trying new things, but more importantly, to allow myself to make mistakes, not be perfect, to feel good doing what I do, to love myself like crazy, and to express myself more freely than ever.
I’ll say it again:
Whenever fear shows up, waving its flags to mark the entrance to the unknown territory that lies beyond, we have three options:
- We can turn around and go back, defeated and deflated.
- We can charge forward, ignoring the fear and toughening up to protect us from that god-awful vulnerability.
- Or, we can pause for a moment, check in with our bodies (to make sure we remain soft and supple) and find out what we need to feel safe enough to move forward again.
What you need to feel safe enough to move forward will be very specific to you, and it will wary with each and every situation. This is why you have to pause and listen. Some cookie-cutter solution won’t help you here, only the deep knowledge of your body and soul.
You need to learn this language, this rythm of moving and pausing, because fear will be a constant companion on the journey. But it doesn’t have to be such a pain.
Fear is not a roadblock. It’s a roadsign, showing you where your current borders are. It’s an invitation. A point of entry.
You move softly through the fear and into that vast, new landscape. After a while you face another border, a new limit, and the fear that comes along with it. This might feel discouraging at first. Is there no way to be rid of it once and for all?
No. But every time you face it, the zone in which you can move freely grows. You get more and more delicious freedom, and more and more trust in the process that will get you through the next transition, and the next.
As the sweetest possible side effect, you get kindness back in your life. You get compassion and space enough to hold the imperfections of your humanness, and you get to roam these wild landscapes as a whole human being, no longer fragmented by the attacks of crazy critics or false beliefs about should and should not.
All the precious parts of yourself along for the ride. You simply won’t believe the difference it makes.