I have been quite perplexed as to what topic to choose for my first post. It feels like it should be important. Possibly even momentous! There are so many things running through my head that I wish to explore, but what to choose? I could contemplate why 10% of the time I drink out of my water bottle I end up with water down the front of my shirt, or possibly why I love that my house is a brilliant turquoise… Then it came to me.
Choose what you know. What you live with. What is looking over your shoulder at this very moment making the choice of what to post seem bigger than it really is. Something that has taught me more lessons than I can count.
I’ve had the following words on my board of inspiration for at least 2 years. I have read them so often that they are now a part of who I am.
“Fear is the absence of love. In the same way darkness is the absence of light. You cannot fight darkness because it does not exist, you can only fill the space with light – which will eradicate the dark. In the same way you cannot fight fear, you can only flood it with love.”
These words are paraphrased out of Courage, a book by Osho. (Who is a great example of why you should test knowledge and action against your own values and code, and not follow blindly. Some brilliant insights though.) When I first read them they seemed a bit ridiculous. Of course fear was real. At the time I was living with several significant anxiety disorders, and generally was quite fearful all the time. How was someone saying, “I love you” going to help? Not to mention, if it wasn’t real, what had I been battling for so many years? (This was not the first, nor the last time I had to decide if I was willing to go down a path that might change how I looked back on the past. So far always worth it, but rarely fun.)
As I delved further and further into the rabbit hole of what fear was, the concept of absence resonated again and again. If I was afraid to speak in public what was I really afraid of? For me most of my fears boil down to a lack of inherent self worth – something I struggle with much less now – but the thought process went something like this. “I’m afraid to speak in public because I might say/do/act in a way that will bring judgement down on me from everyone watching. Since my value as a human being is at least somewhat dependent on what they think of me, this is an unacceptable possible outcome. It is actually so unacceptable that NOT speaking in public seems an infinitely better option, so let’s have your body do all kinds of things that will feed into your initial fear of doing something “unacceptable” seem even more valid in the hope you will give in and not speak.” The problem of course was that my job required me to give presentations occasionally, and even more problematically I very much enjoy public speaking – at least when I’m not terrified.
Now to be honest, it took me a while to hone down what was happening to that paragraph. Getting to a point where I realized that my main fear was actually being unacceptable to my “tribe” and thus having no value took some serious deep diving. However, low and behold, what is it that can make that cease to be?
I did not see that coming, but it seemed it was actually true. If I developed enough love for myself that I understood my value to be inherent the entire tower tumbles. The spectators lose the power to devalue me as a human (something they weren’t actively doing anyway!) I can step up and speak and have only those moments at stake, and possibly a performance evaluation, which if looked at from a place of love is just feedback on how to get better. An opportunity for improvement. Not to mention the much more likely outcome of anything undesirable happening is concern, not judgement.
This process of diving into my fears, and seeing what empty space is allowing them to be can be kind of fun. It can also be very hard, and difficult to face. Sometimes it takes a long time – which can feed other fears as I excavate, sometimes I just get a-has! It is always a teacher. I – at least so far – am always a stronger, better person for the lesson.
I can’t say that this approach has rid me of fear. It is still one of the things I struggle with most. However now I recognize it as a teacher, not a terrible beast out to devour me… even though sometimes that is how it communicates. I can thank the fear, and whatever inner voices are feeding it… both acts of love. And through these acts of love and light my world gets brighter. I gain knowledge of myself, I shine a little brighter, illuminating even more corners of my world to explore, opening up even more options for experience (Istanbul anyone?).
It isn’t the easy path, but it is a rewarding path, and it is the path of an Impeccable Warrior.