Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth - Pema Chodron
A funny thing happened to me the other day.
Well, it wasn’t funny at the time but now that I’m out the other side, I’m all like “ha ha ha the mind is so funny. Ha ha the pain-body is so smart. Ha ha ha”
I have had a very active few weeks.
Not fitness active (at all), but a lots-going-on-with-many-moving-and-interconnected-parts-almost-fitting-together-but-not-quite-yet kind of active.
You see, I have been working on some pretty major and exciting projects over the last few months (and one over the last few YEARS). And for the first time, those moving parts were gaining some momentum and I could actually see how close I was to actually launching them into the world. I've had momentum in the past but in a way that was still held close to me, never a way that was projected out into the *gasp* public realm.
I pride myself on being generally good at keeping my cool. I am capable of staying very level-headed in the midst of stressful situations, and am almost always able to channel things like tight deadlines into laser-focused and productive energy.
But the other day, I woke up and immediately felt anxious. I literally felt anxiety in my chest and knots in my belly, before I had even gotten out of bed!
So that was new.
Nevertheless, I went about my daily routine, went to work, did the work, had a reasonably productive day like any other and yet, the feeling of anxiety was still there.
All. day. Long.
I got home.
HUSBAND: How was your day?
ME: Fine. But actually, I’ve had this really weird low-level anxiety simmering for the whole day. I just feel like all of these projects are happening at the same time and there is just a lot going on
[back of my throat tightens].
So I told him about what was on my mind and we decided to go to a local cafe to talk it out more over a cup of tea and a treat. Which ALWAYS makes either of us feel better.
Except I didn’t feel better.
The more we talked the worse I felt. Well, the worse the anxiety felt. It wasn’t long before I was pushing pieces of the vegan mocha brownie around on my plate as tears streamed down my face.
I sent us home.
Once home, I went to my yoga mat.
I was restless, but also not wanting to do anything.
Fidgety side stretches.
Sitting quietly for a while.
So I got up and went downstairs to find my husband making flatbread.
I start to laugh-cry. That funny heart opening moment where you cry and then laugh at yourself while crying. As if to say “whaaaaaaaat the eff is going on?”
I stood there in the kitchen for a moment, bracing myself on the counter, and thought to myself:
ME: “Ok. What the eff is going on?”
ME: “No really. Nicole, what is going on?”
ME: Ok. Fear. I hear you.
ME: Fear. Ok. Yes, I see you.
ME: What do you need me to know?
FEAR: You’re on the cusp of something great. Something real. The risk seems high.
ME: Fear, I love you.
SELF: *fear melts*
[Enter: THE RELIEF]
Oh my god the relief. In hearing the fear, out came the truth. And in listening to the truth, out came relief.
Fear was here because I AM onto something. I am moving into truth. The stakes are high now, yes, but the inner knowing that the things I am working on are important and true and real was way more powerful than the fear itself.
THAT is what my fear wanted me to know.
That knowing, has since given me a huge burst of stamina and inspiration (hence why I’m writing this blog at 11:30pm on a Sunday night and not even mad about it).
Simply moving my body around wasn’t going to release the fear. Talking it out wasn’t going to make it go away. Seeing it for what it was and listening to what it was telling me, suddenly I understood what was happening in my body (anxiety). And as soon as that happened, I could honour it by allowing it to pass through.
I have been reading a lot about fear and have been working with some amazing tools and practices to hone in and listen closely to what it is trying to tell us.
Fear is not something to be conquered or ignored. Fear is something to be heard, honoured, loved and then channelled into appropriate action.
So next time you notice fear rising up (as I wrote about in another post, fear shows itself in many forms by the way, like as rejection, anger, resentment, anxiety and blame) don’t push it away. Invite it to speak, and be open to listening to what it has to say.