The first kind:
I belong to a spiritual fellowship where sharing my vision is a regular component. As a spiritual adviser this is a major source of fuel for recharging.
After a recent meeting of this group, one of the participants (I'll call her Sue) asked if she could give me her feedback on what I'd said.
I had put out to the group that I saw myself speaking with corporate women in an intimate environment, to help them share their vulnerabilities and align, or realign, their insides with their outsides. I do believe there's a need for this safe space and conversation.
And then I'd second-guessed myself and added, 'But, they'd probably be too scared, too threatened to really open up.'
My first mistake was saying OK to Sue's offer. Something about Sue had my gut saying, "Be careful."
But the people-pleaser part of me whispered, 'Hear what she has to say. She's a coach. She must know.' I tend to give people with letters after their name undue influence.
Sue approached me armed with her feedback and said, "I think it's you who is scared."
My stomach clenched, and I felt a quickening in my gut.
Even though I'm selective about the feedback I let in, little that comes into my sphere gets immediately trashed. I take in what others say, think about its truth and applicability, then decide whether to digest it or let it go. As I thought about what Sue had said, I noticed that feeling in my body. Her words went right to my intestines and created a gripping sensation.
Am I scared?
Was it me and not them who needed getting in touch with her authentic self?
Sue's words hurt as they say the truth does. They did touch a cord. There might have been something there. I clearly wasn't taking action on my vision. Maybe she was right.
I made a note to discuss this with my coach who I love and trust.
The second kind:
Back in December, I was in a different conversation where another woman (I'll call Deb) told our community that she was about to take a monumental step in her life, one that would enormously impact whatever came next.
Deeply curious, I asked her what she was about to do.
It turned out, Deb was quitting her job and going on a voyage around the world that would last four months.
I asked for more information, and she referred me to the Semester at Sea website. From the moment I looked at the world map and arrows marking the voyage, I knew that this was something I must do. I called the administrator, got more information, talked to a trustee about their Lifelong Learner program and sent in a deposit.
As I go through this year in anticipation of my late January boarding, I experience different kinds of fear arising. Should I get a roommate or fork over the substantial price differential? Since I'm entering the group a few weeks in, will people be friendly to me, or will they already have formed their cliques? What if I hate the food?
Then I noticed the difference between these two kinds of fear. I'm keenly aware of the actions I've taken, or not taken in relation to each.
What's different with these two kinds of scared is the wisdom and energy of my body. It knows what's true for me. What I learned from my interaction with Sue is that what I was really scared about was letting go of my old vision of coaching and stepping into my new one as spiritual adviser.
Arnold Mindell, the author of 20 books on process oriented psychology, says that the body is the midwife to the mind. Sue's words triggered a gut reaction that was negative, and my energy on that vision fizzled. Deb's words activated fireworks throughout my system that had me moving forward, excited and scared, yet in alignment with what I intuitively knew would be the next right step at this time in my life.
Although this process comes naturally to me now, it's taken years of practice to work through the 'scared' so quickly. It began with meditation, quieting my mind (I practice Transcendental Meditation, aka TM) twice a day so that I could hear my own voice amidst the noise.
The best way to clear a jar of muddy water is to allow it to sit. That's what meditation does for you, clears the muddy thoughts.
I've also learned to doubt my doubts and ask trusted friends for feedback. I don't always know what I'm thinking, but I sure as heck know what I'm feeling. They reflect my feelings back to me in a way that's supportive, informative and non-judgmental.
Your body never lies, and the purer your channel, the clearer your truth will be. To keep my channel as clear as possible I've let go of sugar, refined flours, caffeine, tobacco, dairy... don't even ask! But, trust me, without those substances, my body reacts powerfully to any input.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with information, feedback, and opinions. I'm conscientious about what else enters my system. I don't have TV, listen only briefly to the radio, and choose what sections of the newspaper I want to read. I'm well-informed, but not over-saturated.
Never has it been more critical to rely on the wisdom of your own body for the answers that are right for you. What (or whom) might you need to eliminate from the chatter in your head? What would help you hear your own truth-telling signals above the noise? Unsure of the answers? Ask your gut. It knows.