I Ain’t Afraid of No Fear

Written by: Gracie Mayer, contributing writer 

I like to keep it real with myself.  I like to give myself mini check-ins to remind myself that I need to chase goals that bring my soul joy instead of buying whatever society is selling, dictating what I’m “supposed” to do.  I like to ask myself a mini-20 questions, pretending like I’m on a first date — well, that is if first dates moved beyond the “crazy weather we are having this week…” small talk to something actually deep, meaningful and vulnerable.

I ask questions like:

What would you try if you knew you could not fail?

What dream would you chase if you had no fear?

What would you tell the people you love if you knew it would be heard, received and the answer positive and receptive?

Who would you love if there were no constraints, judgements or threats to you and that person?

What feelings or emotions would you express if you knew that there would be no negative repercussions and you would truly be heard and seen?

I have been thinking about fear and the looming idea that there are dreams in this life we cannot attain or goals we cannot achieve.  I have been thinking about the paralyzing fear I have felt in my own life: fear of failing, fear of falling, fear of the unknown, fear of it ending, fears of

I like to keep it real with myself.  I like to give myself mini check-ins to remind myself that I need to chase goals that bring my soul joy instead of buying whatever society is selling, dictating what I’m “supposed” to do.  I like to ask myself a mini-20 questions, pretending like I’m on a first date — well, that is if first dates moved beyond the “crazy weather we are having this week…” small talk to something actually deep, meaningful and vulnerable.

I ask questions like:

What would you try if you knew you could not fail?

What dream would you chase if you had no fear?

What would you tell the people you love if you knew it would be heard, received and the answer positive and receptive?

Who would you love if there were no constraints, judgements or threats to you and that person?

What feelings or emotions would you express if you knew that there would be no negative repercussions and you would truly be heard and seen?

I have been thinking about fear and the looming idea that there are dreams in this life we cannot attain or goals we cannot achieve.  I have been thinking about the paralyzing fear I have felt in my own life: fear of failing, fear of falling, fear of the unknown, fear of it ending, fears of not being loved in return, fears of living a mediocre life that lacks adventure or spontaneity, fear of being alone, fear of answering the phone, fear of setting boundaries, fear of stating my opinion unapologetically, fear of asking for something to be explained again, fear of following through, and perhaps most paramount – fear of checking my online banking app for my balance.

I love toying with the questions that free me from the constraints of my fear.  I love these questions because often they reveal the true longings of my soul.  But there is also another part of me that thinks fear is a good and necessary part of the human experience.  Yes, yes, fear is a necessary evolutionary defense mechanism that keeps us alive, running from bears, and out of busy streets.  But deeper than these reasons, I think there is a true triumph and inner strength that comes from conquering one’s fears and overcoming thoughts of doubt or uncertainty.  It is disheartening for me to think that as children many of us didn’t have fears of failing or fears of ending up alone or not living up to our fullest potential.  The world may have seemed limitless – which is also why many of us broke arms jumping off the monkey bars, being under the impression that wings suddenly grow the minute your body free falls.  As we grow, the world often reveals aspects of life that plant seeds of doubt within us and leave us with lists of fears – some rational and some very irrational.  But, I have found that while I still battle many of my fears, naming these fears has helped me own pieces of myself and begin the journey of loving those parts and sending them healing.

One fear that I have worked on since the onset of my eating disorder is overcoming the fear of what other’s think of me.  I always lived for others’ praise and approval but soon the fear of letting people down became so ever present that I did begin letting people down – I stopped returning calls, stopped wanting to go spend time with people, stopped showing up and stopped following through.  I have slowly had to consciously work to answer emails, phone calls, invitations and duties.  I still struggle, but I have learned that honesty is the best policy, and if you say “no,” the person may not feel as let down as if you were to outright ignore them.

The second fear that I have fought and fought to overcome is the fear of taking up space.  It is odd, because I am not sure that this fear had ever really plagued me until I looked into some shame I had surrounding some trauma that had happened to me as a child.  All of a sudden I didn’t feel I deserved to take up space – I was unlovable, gross, disgusting, dirty, and undeserving.  Overcoming this fear and beginning the journey of believing I deserved to take up space was life changing, and something that has forever changed how I view myself and how I view the world.  If this fear had never entered my life, I would have never found such a profound sense of purpose and belonging.

This is the conclusion that I have come to: yes, it would be wonderful if there was no more fear.  But there is also so much strength and growth that comes from overcoming our fears.  So, do I wish I had no fears?  Some days I think it might make life easier, but I am grateful for what my fears teach me about myself and in the process of overcoming my fears, I often find inner strength and deeper connections to my community.  So no, I ain’t ‘fraid of no fear

The Monster Under Your Bed

Written by: Madeline McCallum, contributing writer and blogger at http://madelinesmusing.blogspot.com/?m=1

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with fear. On one hand, fear can be a great motivator for an ambitious, strong-willed person like me who is quick to a challenge in the name of self-improvement. Am I scared of it? Then that means I am going to pursue it, head on. On the other hand, fear has been an invisible, vicious undercurrent consistently derailing my steady swim and yanking me further out to sea.

I’ve never thought of myself as someone particularly controlled by fear; to be honest, I’ve usually thought I tend to fall more in the opposite camp – making decisions that will be uncomfortable and scary, with confidence in my capacity to persevere.

That’s why, upon drilling down on a particular pain point and realizing that at the root of the discomfort is fear, I am always surprised. It becomes almost a humbling experience. Fear is, after all, an ego-driven quality. It is defensive and reactive – it’s a combination of how we are wired (the sympathetic nervous system) and how we have been trained by the world around us to avoid “bad” or “different” things/feelings at all costs. This fear reaction consequentially makes us very resistant to transformation.

For me, I find the fear monster lurking under my bed after huge changes have occurred in my life. I start to scramble around in the hopes that constantly doing will make being easier. This is how he rears his ugly head – disguised as strength, as discipline, as a coping mechanism that makes sure I don’t have to lean into the unknown.

As I grow more and more aware of myself and learn how to recognize when I’m off balance, it becomes easy to grow frustrated when I can’t pull myself out of something, despite using all of the tools in my self-help tool kit. Fear exists as control, as isolation, as complacency. Only when I sit myself down and internally scream “WHAT ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF” do I pause and realize that I am, in fact, acting out of fear – the fear of not knowing, the fear of being unaccepted, the fear of “getting off track,” etc. This is where the process becomes very humbling – I promise you that when you sit in stillness with yourself and really think about why you are so afraid of gaining weight, of being unregimented, of taking time off work, of quitting smoking, of missing a workout, the answer actually contains a lot more depth than those surface level issues.

What, then, is the antidote to fear? Well, I definitely know what it is not – it is not complacency or helplessness, just throwing up your hands and conceding defeat. This is putting yourself into victim mode – feeling like everything is happening to you. As seems to be a running theme, it comes back to finding the middle point between giving up control and feeling helpless.

I think our agency can be found in determination. When we think of fear we think of the overcoming of it, but sometimes the real strength lies in existing alongside the fear.

Fear can many times be rational, and in my darkest days I found myself wishing I was more afraid – wishing I had something to be afraid for, anything to feel strongly about. As I’ve learned how to deal with more irrational fears, such as a piece of cake somehow equating to my chances in the college admissions process, I recognize that many of my fears now – like the passing of time, my parents aging, being hurt when I’m vulnerable – are valid, straightforward, and are not going to disappear any time soon. I think naturopath and life coach Beth Bridges poignantly captures this duality when she says, “Life delivers us circumstances, events, people that are beyond our control. But – our acceptance of their place in our life, in our experience, is very much within our control.”

What if we retrain the way we react? Instead of collapse, of heaviness, of constricting, of hiding, what if we expand, listen, push into the hurt? What if we look under the bed and realise that the monster living under there isn’t really a monster at all, but rather all of the feelings, gut reactions, and daunting decisions we’ve brushed aside and let collect, out of sight?

And even if we did find a monster there, wouldn’t there be a relief in knowing? No more wondering or haunting nightmares about what is lurking. If we are prepared, equipped with strength and sound of mind, letting our hearts rather than our ego drive our reactions, that monster doesn’t stand a chance.

Steps Towards Freedom

Written by: Morgan Blair, Founder of Unpolished Journey

Oh Darling, it’s just a step,Image result for holding the universe

with your eyes closed tight

and your hands tied

and your feet bound

and your faith caught up

between the what is lost

and what is found.

Oh Darling it’s just a step,

towards everything that’s right

away from darkness

and into light;

a step of courage,

a step of hope,

a step to flourish,

a new way to cope.

 

Related imageOh Darling, you must walk

away from all you know

off this cliff

towards the freedom

you deserve to hold.