Oh to get past fear, one of the most uncomfortable things we can do. As we announced on Twitter, we’ll be out of New York City for a few work projects. Though, it might be more appropriate to say that we’re always traveling, always moving to where our hearts, and thus our work takes us. Like birds, holding on to a home only temporarily until the earth calls us onward, whether for season’s or safety’s sake. There is certainly a peacefulness to be found in transience.
There are times in life when change is thrust upon us, such as this move; change can occur without choice, but that certainly doesn’t prevent us from accepting and embracing it. For our big change, we’ll be traveling to where I underwent chemo, the city where I’ve lost so many family members. At the risk of being too candid, I’ll tell you this change has become a face-to-face conversation with that which I fear most; not just cancer, but my own past (as all humans do). I had to get past fear. It’s just like the universe to enact as much: ask us to face our demons, demand that we expand larger than the cage of our fear so we can never be trapped by it again. Outgrowing fear is an uncomfortable aspect of fulfilling our purpose, but it’s vital one.
In growing into your greatest power, please expect that the universe will ask you to face yourself, as well. To acknowledge all that you aren’t most proud of, or all that you’ve kept hidden in the back of your mind. But it is all an act of love from the universe, so that you can be set free from yourself. As Emily Best quoted in her SheDoes Podcast (and I’ll paraphrase here): when you can get over the fear of truly looking at something, you’ll find a great power there. Remembering all your strengths is like the armor you wear as you work to get past fear.
Surprisingly, I found this same sentiment true during the ‘Week Without Mirrors’ experiment; I went seven full days without seeing my own reflection, to see what affect it would have on my concept of beauty. I was terrified to look in the mirror by the end of the week, like all the insecurities and flaws I’d been ruminating in my imagination would burst to life in the reflection. But what occurred was just the opposite: a greeting with a beautiful, familiar woman, who’s physical strengths could shine through once the ego’s exhausting list of flaws was out of the way. Once I got over the fear of looking at myself – flaws and all – I realized there was a lot more ‘all’ than ‘flaw. But it took a hard honest look to see it.
Life often asks us to confront what we fear. We don’t have to answer that call, but by doing so, we are given the opportunity for profound liberation. In taking a good hard look at the fear itself, we will realize the measures necessary to conquer that fear. That’s where the liberation lies: in the equation of evaluating the fear, realizing it’s antithesis, and thus given our way out.
Fear, funny enough, is founded in the idea that this one particular thing can somehow diminish our true self, our safety or our worth. Think about the times that you avoid looking in your own bank account, fearful of the lack of money or confronting how much you’ve spent. Your true worry is not actually the amount, but that you’ll feel scared or ashamed of the amount; that you’ll be ashamed of yourself for making such imbalance happen. There are, of course, bigger fears we can use as examples, but even this common everyday worry has the same truths.
Looking at our fear offers the chance to deeply analyze the conclusions we’ve drawn for ourselves. Empty bank account = I’m irresponsible. For me, leaving New York = the loss of my inspiration and community. It can be a painful process; facing the fear of cancer was incredibly painful. After traveling back to see family members in their battle years after I’d won mine, I realized I wasn’t in control of cancer after all. But that didn’t make my capacity for love and gratitude any weaker. I didn’t conquer this fear, I only made peace with it, and that can be liberating as well. I learned to accept it’s presence, and use it as a tool to enhance my gratitude rather than be paralyzed by it, unable to emote or connect with others.
The only alternative, then, is to avoid your fear, and surely find that it only follows you all the more flagrantly. Have you ever experienced this: when you work tirelessly to avoid a problem, and yet it never seems to let you be? Never a moment’s rest, only the worry and rush to get further away from it by distraction.
So turn around, take a long hard look at what you’re afraid of, and you’ll diminish the fear by realizing it has no power to change you after all. A fear cannot reveal something about you that’s not already there, so avoiding fear only keeps you from solving it. Stop giving the fear the power, stop letting it grow bigger in the shadows when you’re not looking, or making you feel like it’s hiding a dirty secret about you. Or, if you must, take the Elizabeth Gilbert path and accept the fear as present, and lovingly forgive it for trying (but no longer succeeding) to keep you from happiness and gratitude.
On a lighter note, moving is it’s own bundle of surprises. One thing is true though: it’s a glorious opportunity to take inventory of all that we’ve acquired, and to do a little personal editing in our collections. From the wardrobe to the storage spaces, it’s my turn to clean out the corners and ask some tough questions, especially about what serves us (enthusiasm, courage) and what no longer serves us (fear, the ego’s negative messages, and insecurity).
To round out this week’s post of expansive fear-facing, let’s ask ourselves some important questions:
How to Get Past Fear: The Essential Questions:
What fears would I be happier not having:
Myself and my worth?
My relationships and my contributions to them?
Whether I could live up to my aspirations?
What physical manifestation does fear have on me? Perhaps shown in the form of:
Self-destructive language and inner monologue?
Unwillingness to try new things or put myself out there?
Where can I forgive fear for hurting me or handicapping me, so that I can move on:
How it’s made me act
Opportunities I’ve missed
Moments it’s been present, keeping me from being happy?
Where fears do I need to stop avoiding and start facing? And where do I need to make peace with fear, realize it’s presence, and act anyway?
It all boils down to the brevity of this wonderful, magical life of yours. You have no time to allow fears cage to imprison you. This world needs you to allow your passion and aspiration to be bigger than fear.
Also this week, we’re featured on the website for the Foundation of Living Beauty. This incredible organization helps to inspire and encourage women during and after their battle with cancer, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been interviewed by them. Please check out their website and get involved if you can!
photo by LPK