Fear is everywhere and in everything we do, feel, hear and see. Or at least this is how our world is presented to us. We are told it is a world full of threat and danger, injustice and persecution. I am not denying that injustice and hate and danger are not a part of our dualistic world, what I am saying is that we need not view the world and react in it through the lens of fear. We have a choice. For most of my adult life I have recognized the power fear has in my life, but making the decision to live my life outside of fear and consciously, making choices that are NOT influenced by fear, has been a journey. Fear is paralyzing and, at the same time, it makes me desperate and frantic. So why would I choose to make decisions about how I live my life when in that state of mind? These are realizations I have come to as I start to walk my path and live MY life, making choices which are all mine and which serve My highest and best, not the needs of anyone else. Like everything else, addressing fear in my life has been a process of unveiling each fear, layer by layer. As I am ready to see how fear is impacting me, I can then make decisions based on MY needs and dreams. This is what authentic living is really about.
The first time I remember consciously making the choice to NOT let fear sway my decision was when I chose to travel with my husband and my toddler within weeks of the 9-11 terror attack. I chose consciously not to live my life and limit my experiences because of the tiny possibility that I could lose my life through an unpredictable act of terror. If I gave in to this, I could live my whole life imprisoned by this fear. I say this knowing that for me this choice was right and I was ready to make it, for others it might not be so. My fears are not yours. My experiences are not yours. My dreams are not yours. We each have to expose and confront our own individual fears, as we see fit. What we DO all have in common is the residence of fear in our lives both in obvious ways and in ways we still have to discover. What we DO have is a choice to choose something other than a life dominated by fearful choices. What we DO have is the ability to uncover our fears, face them and leave them behind us.
Fear is disguised as the socially accepted way of living your life. It is embedded in all the respected attitudes around living life “realistically” or “safely” or “rationally” - and in these “socially approved” approaches to living life I see an effort to control me and my life, to always hold me back, to keep me from dreaming or setting high goals for myself and, simultaneously, to envy those few who are “lucky” enough to have broken ranks and live abundant lives. This fear is all based on the idea that “I am not enough;” in the idea of always comparing my life to other people’s lives; in the idea that it is more dangerous to try to change and grow and reach for the stars (because that would never work for me), than it is to stay in the status quo. For so long, I was happy with just making do. I admit it, I still struggle with it. Oh, the cocoons we weave around ourselves! It’s gonna take some time to unravel all of that silk webbing to find the butterfly underneath.
Often fear is instilled through societal beliefs and judgements. Like, if we don’t adhere to their rules and limitations, their accepted labels and expectations, we will be marginalized, ostracized, attacked. Think of all the constrictive labels we have around our identity: gender, race, religion, nationality, interests, talents, work, age. For most of my life, I adopted labels to create a safe and acceptable place for me to live. I chose them carefully keeping in mind what was expected of me and what ones would allow me to live a life of no resistance and criticism. I was an academic, a professor, an intellectual, a teacher, a mother, a wife, daughter, sister, friend, volunteer, foodie, tennis fan, recycler, cook, avid reader, traveler, museum goer, etc.. But I hid or avoided the labels, which most spoke to who I really was, because I was afraid of being punished in some way for living them openly: spiritual student and teacher, mystic, meditator, channeler, yogi, believer in angels and God, soft-hearted and emotional, feminine, able to see both sides of things, pacifist. Now, you may look at my list of labels and think, really? Those are all such easy things to see in yourself and to live out in your own truth. They weren’t for me. Each of us have our own fears to conquer. I may find some actions difficult to live out openly, actions which you don’t think twice about. You probably have labels of your own that are easy to adopt because they are acceptable by those around you or society on a larger scale and others that you maybe wish for yourself but don’t believe are possible. I ask you to simply take them out and make your own list. Again, no judgement. Don’t ask yourself whether they are valid, possible, okay or acceptable. Just put together your own list of the truth of who you really are - let your dreams rule, not fear. Don’t worry, you don’t need to share this list with anyone. It is for you alone. Some labels might contradict one another - labels after all assume we are only one aspect of that thing, which is never the case. Some labels might be from childhood and others might be for the person you are yet to become. Put them all down. By making this list you have started to peel back the first layers in your cocoon to find your authentic you! Not so hard is it? Now, you can make conscious and active choices about what you want to do with them; which ones you want to bring into reality now and which ones need to wait.
There is another aspect to fear and that is facing the possibility of discomfort or pain. We so want to avoid anything that might have a chance of disappointing us, hurting us, or causing us pain. I remember my parents both parenting from the perspective of don’t dream too big because you might be disappointed. When I spoke of dreaming of being a ballerina I was told I was too tall, when I wanted to be a dinosaur expert I was warned that I’d never find work. When I said I wanted to be an astronomer, my dad told me I wasn’t good enough in math. Never reach for the stars was what I was constantly being taught, as well as the need to fear risking disappointment. Dream realistically and you will never have to feel pain. But maybe we are all stronger than this? Maybe in the pain we find the learning we need to reach further and to grow. What about the saying that “Nothing worth having comes easy.” If I always choose the easy and safe options, my life will be so two dimensional, and I would never really get to experience anything grand or truly new or beautiful. I would never feel the glorious joy of accomplishing beautiful things or living a full and passionate life. I want to live my life dreaming big, dreaming love, dreaming of a beautiful life, rather than spending my time imagining worst case scenarios or staying always where I am.
The next step , if you are ready, is to see what parts of you your fears have been keeping hidden from yourself and/or from others. For me, the labels about being a spiritual person and living that out in the open were a priority for me to address. Living these truths openly meant standing out and, in a way, being separate from family, friends and society. This caused me fear and anxiety. Fear of being judged and hurt, either emotionally or physically, are a big part of that. I feel this goes back to many lifetimes where this fear was well-grounded and was an actual consequence of being true to my beliefs and who I was. So this fear, for me, works very deeply in my subconscious. It will take time to let this me step forward completely, but taking small steps, testing the waters, and seeing there are no sharks lurking in them, is allowing me to keep moving forward on embracing this so-important, real me.
What I have found is that as I see each fear, acknowledge it, and make decisions to act without deferring to it, I become stronger, calmer, more sure of the rightness of these choices. I become more firm in the knowing of myself and less attached to other’s reactions to it. I am releasing the hold fear has in my life. I have stepped out of the spiritual closet over the past four years. Slowly, first I told everyone I was going to a meditation class (it really was a class about archangels), then that I said I was learning about spirituality. Now, I am practicing spirituality, writing about it (like with this blog), starting a Youtube channel to help share my experiences of embarking on a spiritual path and encouraging others to start their own. I have told people who love me that I channel write. I have attributed my blogs to that of writings given to me by archangels. I attend week-long silent retreats and talk about working with spiritual energy and about my beliefs in my psychic abilities (which I believe we all have btw), etc. I am finding that now, years into this slow process of unveiling myself, I am not really scared of being ostracized anymore. If I feel that fear of being judged by others, it doesn’t have the same impact on me. I don’t fear friends not wanting to spend time with me because I am doing this work and living this life. I don’t feel hurt if they have pulled away from me. I have found a new strength that isn’t about how others react to me and my life choices, it is about a deep knowing of who I am. This happens when you start to peel back those layers of yourself and acknowledge them, when you move through the fear and realize that really that fear is all imagined by you. What is on the other side is so much more different than the harsh judgements, or the feeling of being outside and alone, or being seen as crazy or flighty. Those fears, it turns out, were all manufactured by my imagination (False Evidence Appearing Real = FEAR) and, if any of them do come to pass, the new me, who can handle fears now that I’ve got practice, thinks “This too I can look at and move past.”
Fear at its core is all about imagining possible outcomes and all of them being worst-case scenarios. You fear an outcome which you are supposing will happen. Why can’t we take this power to imagine outcomes and use it to imagine outcomes that are for our highest and best even better than we could ever imagine?? Why is using imagination to prepare for disastrous or negative possibilities okay but not supposing that amazing things could happen? That’s being realistic and prepared, even if they never come to be. That is not a waste of time, but if you imagine your dreams and ambitions coming true, you are a dreamer, daydreaming your day away and wasting your time. In either case, the possible outcomes may or may not happen. If the dreaming of possible outcomes is a part of my life, I would much rather take the time to dream of what I want to happen, than of what I don’t want to happen.
Love yourself enough to set your fears aside and to move past them to dream for yourself the life you want to live!