Fear.

I used to have alot of fears. And I mean alot!!!

Perhaps they emanated from my pretty crazy childhood. I was scared all the time. My home life situation wasn’t very stable. It haunted me for most of my youth and young adulthood.

Fear of failing. Fear of trying. Fear of looking a certain way that brought ridicule. Fear of my home life being discovered. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Fear of being found out for being scared. I was desperate for approval and so the thought of rejection was devastating to me.

When I started my professional career though, I found a great way to hide those fears…the mask of a successful businessman! I could hide my fears and insecurities behind a phony veneer. In business, I was totally comfortable taking risks and pushing my boundaries. I had nothing to lose. It was just business!

Not so in my personal life.

As I got older and embarked on this journey of self-discovery and sought to rebalance my business and personal priorities, I realized I still lived a life dominated by so much fear. Fear of showing my true self. Fear of wearing my emotions on my sleeve. Fear of getting too close to people for the risk of being rejected. Fear of speaking MY truth.

I think alot of our culture also discourages risk taking. The fear of ridicule on social media. The fear of not fitting in with the “cool crowd.” The fear of not seeming perfect at everything we do. (Social media is a wonderful tool at helping us maintain this facade).

As a practicing Buddhist, one of the things we are taught is that when we sense fear, it’s a wonderful thing. That we should embrace it. That fear is our mind and body telling us we are approaching an opportunity to grow. And that we need to get control of our narrative and negative thought patterns as well. We are also taught that when we are fearful, we aren’t trusting ourselves and our higher calling (whatever that is…The Universe, God, Buddha, etc.).

One of my favorite sources of inspiration these days is Elephant Journal and its founder Waylon Lewis (great interview with him here.)

Here is a passage he wrote about fear…

“Fear controlled me for too long. Most of my life really. And to break free, I had to unlearn fear. Fear shows me that I am not in faith. Fear shows me that I am insecure about something, and that I am not trusting the process. If I believe in a God or Supreme Being, or even a divine artist, and I am in fear, that means I don’t trust said higher being.

In Western society, we are taught to fear the unknown, change, death, loss and pain. Yet all these things are natural and inevitable facts of life. When we stop fearing them and instead embrace the impermanence and uncontrollable nature of everything that exists, we suddenly find that fear no longer controls us anymore.”

He offers these wonderful quotes in a blog entry on fear…

“We are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us.”~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”~ Pema Chödrön

“The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.”~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Amazing stuff. Thanks Waylon!

In my own life, I now see fear as something to embrace. While we are taught at a young age to run away from things that scare us, I now run towards those things that scare me. Fear is something I welcome and see so differently.

So when I feel my heart racing or my temperature rising about something and I sense fear creeping in, I simply acknowledge it and say to myself “this is the Universe telling you that you need to overcome this situation, and once you do, you have climbed another step on your spiritual growth ladder.” Or in other situations my fear signals might be a sign that I am not trusting and surrendering to the Universe.

I think about how I parent my young kids very differently now. When they were younger, I would of course try and shield them from the things they were scared of. We are taught that. Run from the Big Bad Wolf right:). But now I see that that is also setting them up for a lifetime of running away from their fears as opposed to embracing them.

Fear is the ultimate growth opportunity I tell them. That’s what I try and teach them now. When we surrender or challenge our fears, we cross another hurdle in our own spiritual and personal growth.

It’s also one of the reasons I actually write this blog. To share things about myself I would never have had the courage to previously share. Every blog I write is actually an exercise in me overcoming one of my fears of sharing and baring my inner most thoughts.

So next time you’re scared, think about what the Universe is trying to tell you. See fear as a sign of something important. Embrace it head on and you will see what a blessing fear truly is.

Namaste,

Mike

 

4 thoughts on “Fear.

  1. I love this post! I too shared all the same fears when we were younger and there’s almost an excitement now as I get older in facing my fears- diving in, staring it in the face and saying yes to something that I used to say no to because I was scared. You are so full of wisdom. Thank you!!

    Like

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