“Do not do what fear tells you to do.” –Danielle LaPorte
Today, during my morning run, I found myself meditating on the impact of fear in our lives. Well, maybe I wasn’t meditating on it… digesting? Processing? Oh, words…
As I run, fear is the one thing that I think of most. More than worries, pain in my calves, or lack of oxygen, the idea of fear takes over. Not because I’m afraid when I run, but because I am free. Free enough to face the truth, fear, anything. When I run, I’m ahead of what I feel is coming after me. I’m strong and fast. I’m fearless. I will go far further than my heart or lungs can possibly handle. And while that may seem like a ‘sound’ approach to my running experience, I’ve got to stop running. Running from everything I’m afraid of!
Fear is a funny thing. I can see myself swatting and squealing at the buzz of a bee, that only has one sting to die for, as if it would suddenly decide to die for the sake of stinging me. I sorry, I just don’t consider myself as that kind of threat. So what makes me afraid of bees? I’ve never been stung by one. Maybe it’s the unknown.
The most powerful fears that I face are failure and being afraid. Ironic, right? In my journey through treatment and recovery, I’ve learned that my definition of failure is quite different from that which is found in the dictionary. To me failure is defined as imperfection. Which is a pretty high standard I set, that is impossible to avoid falling short of. I’ve also learned that we all fear being afraid.
There’s so much talk about fear in our lives. We hold so much back and miss incredible opportunities. We lose touch with reality and give it power over our lives. Why is that?
When I got home, I decided to pick up a book I began reading a couple of months ago. It’s called The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte, who is also a co-author of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan that I mentioned earlier on the blog. I have to admit I grinned when my page marker was in the section about facing fear. Yet another example of my running from fear itself. I want to share with you a parable Danielle mentions that has really helped me see fear in a brand new light.
Pema Shodron tells a parable about a young warrior woman who was told by her teacher that she had to do a direct battle with her fear. Fear has teeth, and like any opponent with the potential to kick your [tail], fear deserves your respect. Hostility is an energy sucker. Concentrate. Stay in your integrity; it’s your main source of strength.
Then the warrior had the good sense to actually ask fear, “How can I defeat you?” Brilliant strategy.
Fear replied; “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”
You can listen to fear. You can feel your palms sweat and your stomach turn. But if you don’t do what fear says, you’ll go ahead and speak up, you’ll sign up, you’ll buy, you’ll sell, you’ll jump. You can ask for exceptions. You can choose to ignore the statistics. You can forge ahead. You can return to love–with more daring, greater vulnerability, and deeper truth.
Fear will tell you to contract. Open.
Fear will tell you to plow ahead. Pull back and wait.
Fear will tell you to not rock the boat. Dive in.
What would happen if we lifted our eyes, stared down our fears, and said, “Step aside.”
Just a thought,