Fear -- because it's irrational
Fear wakes me up to misconceptions, untrue stories about myself or others, untrue stories about the world. Fear makes me stop and think, fear pushes me to breathe and contemplate. Fear can feel brutal, but I believe it's meant to be a healer. The energy of fear has encouraged (pushed? forced?) me to purge old belief systems, to surrender my need to control, to live here now rather than in the past or future. Fear starts as irrational, but it can soften into perspective widening, an opportunity to see beyond old patterns, an ability to be transformed.
Time -- because it moves fast
Every morning I sit with the day and recognize where I am, who I am, how old I am. I would like to say that I do this to honor the passage of time, but I think I do it to somehow hold on to time, to ensure that I recognize its passing. Time is what reminds me to not stand still, to not wait to say or do things. Time is my reminder to take risks and it's my reminder to let go when something is no longer working. I, like you, only have a certain amount of time. I am a lot more courageous when I acknowledge time's impermanence.
Loss -- because it hurts and feels lonely
I have an inner lonely girl. She likes to pretend that she's OK, but she's not. I have lived alone, I have experienced loss, I have been rejected, I have been isolated, and I survived. But she still cries sometimes, remembering past pain or worrying about the unknown. The way I love her is by sharing rather than needing, letting go rather than holding on. To feel safe she would like to control, hammer down, create security. But I remind her that there is no protection from pain, it's simply a part of living. We can only be present, feel what comes, and then be fluid -- to move, change, let go, laugh, grow. And then keep going.
Truth -- because not everybody agrees
I have mine, and you have yours. We all have different stories, we all have different backgrounds. We all wear different glasses when we view the world. I used to put on other people's glasses but it was really blurry and confusing. I would bump into things all the time and it gave me headaches. Now I keep mine on, but I ask others to tell me what they see. I trust my vision, but I also know I can't possibly see it all. I value many different sets of eyes -- they offer me an expansive and enlightened perspective on the world.
Success -- because it carries responsibility
We all say we want success, but I think we are really afraid of it. When we are doing well, people want more from us. When we demonstrate ability, more people question our ability. Some choose to be victims and stay stuck in circumstances so nobody expects anything from them. They avoid rejection by rejecting themselves. So excruciating, but they somehow feel protected, probably because they know what to expect. I'm no stranger to this kind of self sabotage. But when I feel its familiar pull, I think about time, I question fear, I trust truth. Success is an everyday, sometimes moment-to-moment decision -- to be courageous enough to show up as our best selves.
Quiet -- because I can hear everything going on inside
My goodness there is so much going on in my mind, so many voices. And when I'm in quiet they just talk talk talk -- they are loud and sometimes they throw me off balance. I know for sure they are in me, but I also know they are not of me. They are a tape of history and fears, other people's stories and opinions, and whatever I heard on the radio that day. Sitting with all of these voices can initially feel unbearable, but once the risk is taken, it becomes obvious that they are foreign. They come and go, they move and switch, they criticize and judge, they blame. Then they get distracted and take on a whole new dialogue, using a similar pattern. Quiet has helped me create a millimeter of separation between myself and the voices. This small space is my sanity -- it allows me to observe and breathe rather than believe and react.
It's an uncomfortable paradox that the things that terrify me the most offer up the greatest wisdom. I have had many failed attempts to run from what scares me, but I've learned that this makes the monster even bigger.
It's trying to reach us, so if it has to, it will expand. But when we take time to sit with what scares us -- to feel it and deal with it -- we recognize that we are excavating old stuff we don't need. We are in the process of healing.
Instead of expanding the fear, we expand our awareness, we let go of some our defensiveness and righteousness. We learn to stop fighting who we are, to stop numbing the voices in our head, and instead learn to accept and cohabitate with these pieces of ourselves.
We integrate them in an effort to go from fragmented to whole. We forgive ourselves and stop blaming others. We notice what's working. We grow up.
Cathy is the author of Living What You Want Your Kids to Learn: The Power of Self-Aware Parenting and the co-host of Zen Parenting Radio. Follow Cathy on Facebook and Twitter.