Life is full of scary unknowns: How will I cope when a loved one dies? Can I handle being a parent? What do I do if my doctor calls with bad news? While we've been taught to shut down these fears, best-selling author and religion professor the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor believes that we grow exponentially when we embrace the things that scare us the most.
According to Rev. Taylor, darkness is defined as "a place of unknowing." In her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, she challenges people of all faiths to probe the shadows of their lives.
So, how do we begin to embrace the great unknown? In the above clip from her "Super Soul Sunday" interview, Rev. Taylor explains the simple course of action to take the next time you're faced with a scary situation.
"[There are] all these unknowings that we get plunged into," Rev. Taylor says. "And because we don't know what we're doing, we think we've just failed. This is defeat. We need to get out of this as fast as possible -- handle this and move back into the light. And all I'd like to say is just take three breaths."
Three breaths will allow you to feel around and be present in this place of unknowing, Rev. Taylor says. It's a frightening concept, but Brown says that we cannot continue to live our lives responding out of fear. "My soul would be the size of a pea if I never did anything," she says. "I try to do one thing that scares me every day."
After your three deep breaths, Rev. Taylor says to do some critical thinking. "I think about, 'How did I learn to be afraid of where I am right this minute?' And then all of my fear is like a blue flashing light saying there's something here to pay attention to."
While you will often learn from your fear, Rev. Taylor says it's also important to listen to your instincts. "There's something in me that knows when it's too much to handle," she says.
It may be difficult at first, but Rev. Taylor explains that it will get easier with time. "You have to practice courage," she says.