Ancient Lesson #4 – Fear

“The fears we don’t face become our limits” ~Robin Sharma

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt.

Imagine that you’re cruising along on the ocean in a beautiful speed boat. Everything seems perfect. The sun is shining, you’re with friends or family and everyone is getting along (I guess that must mean you’re with friends then, not family – ha ha). The wind feels so good in your face. You can smell the salt in the air. You’ve never felt happier. Suddenly the boat stops and everyone is jerked around and all are frantically trying to catch their balance. The boat stops dead in the water. What has happened?

You look down below the water line of the boat and see nothing but tangled up seaweed or kelp. Your engine’s propeller and/or rudder (yes i was in the Navy but don’t know all the parts of a ship – just the head since I got seasick) is caught and the seaweed is tied all around those parts. You’re not going anywhere else. You are stuck. Your mood changes. The mood of the others change. Many are unable to get their balance once they got knocked off balance. People start talking loudly. It progresses into arguments and then downright fights. What has happened?

This is how fear works. It’s all deep within us. Everyone has fear. It’s just a matter of degree and location. If you have created a safe life for yourself, you can just cruise along happy go lucky. Usually we pick friends that are similar to us so everybody’s ok.

Then something comes along that begins to stir that fear deep within. Maybe some bodily symptoms, maybe work instability, financial instability, problems in a relationship, family member illness, anything out of your comfort zone – that life you created. Now what?

You don’t feel so happy anymore. You may start to bring your friends down or you may pull away and find friends that aren’t so happy anymore. Those old happy ones are making you uncomfortable now.

You can maybe slow down but keep going for awhile. But, the more that that fear works its way to the surface, the more it’s like you’re venturing further into that bed of seaweed. Pretty soon, you’ll be stuck – because you haven’t addressed that fear. You’ve just kept going like it didn’t exist. It doesn’t want to be ignored so it figures out how to stop you in your tracks so you have to address it. The kelp is all around you.

If it jostled your boat enough initially, you could be thrown overboard and now you’re flinging your arms around, kicking your legs and fighting for air. You can’t breathe. Sound familiar. Panic sets in. If you keep fighting that fear, you’ll lose to it. If you stop struggling and address it, you should be able to make your way free in a slow and methodical manner.

Don’t ignore the things you’re afraid of. Acknowledge them, talk to your fear and find out what message it wants to give you. Once you understand what it’s all about, you can begin to save yourself and get back to that life you want to be living. You have to soothe your brain and reassure it that all is safe (I actually talk to my brain. You should have been there at ATY when for five days I talked to my brain sometimes out loud as I walked around in a circle for the first 5 days). While you are reassuring your brain and nervous system that it is not in danger (remember it’s a fight or flight machine), you will be restoring blood flow to the decision making area of your brain. This will help you figure out what you need to do about that fear. Then you will be better equipped to handle it. To soothe your brain look up exercises (no, not that kind) for your parasympathetic nervous system or Google “polyvagal” exercises.

Your fear is there. There are beds of kelp all over the place. You will encounter one of them eventually if you haven’t already. It’s vital that you examine your fears so that you can clear the path for your boat. As Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you”. This will help you learn where your fears are.