Give that fear a cuddle
Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Fear and dreams, they come hand in hand. Maybe because we're scared of the things we want the most.
Deep down both fear and dreaming are seeking the best for us, they just have rather different ways of going about it. Until recently I've been scared of fear, but experience (and wonderful community) has shown me another way which I would like to share with you.
Two days ago I fell into a fear hole. HARD. The prompt could have been anything, but in this instance, it was seeing a fellow coaching outfit's process on their website. Here's how it went, each thought taking me deeper (picture that scene in Labyrinth when she falls down the oubliette): 'God they're brilliant'...'look how well they've done that'...'my whole business concept is flawed'...'I'm doing the wrong thing, what a waste of time, how embarrassing'....[and here's the really dangerous bit]...'I'm a waste of time'.
The plummet took about 5 seconds. Familiar?
But good news, friends! The switch from fear to dreaming - or at least a more dreamy state - can happen almost as fast. With huge credits to the wonderful Tara Brach and her book Radical Acceptance I'm able to share these steps to try next time you encounter fear:
- First you need to be able to recognise it - what are the tell-tale signs that you are scared? For me I get cold. And my heart beats. And everything in my head gets bleak.
- When you notice fear is here, stop everything, completely.
- Turn your attention inside, to where you are feeling the fear in your body - is it in your stomach, your chest? What are the sensations? If it had a colour, what would it be? Stay breathing into the place in your body where you feel the fear, you have nothing else to do but keep your attention there.
- Once you're feeling the fear fully, begin to bring love to that place - give that fear a good old cuddle. The way I do that is to literally say out loud in my head 'darling, I care about this suffering'. Try it, you may be surprised at how powerful this is, especially if you're often not so nice to yourself in your head more than half the time.
- Now it's important not to bring expectation to this, but I'm telling you sometimes some amazing stuff gets unlocked if we listen to our fears. A connection to soul. A powerful release of emotion. It happened to me in my living room that night.
And then I called a loved one. Because brave souls need brave company. More than that, we deserve to be surrounded by people who remind us of our dreams, even and especially in the midst of our darkest fears.
So I'd invite you to consider, what voices are you listening to, brave traveller, sweet soul? Who are you surrounding yourself with (including in your head)? Because we always have a choice - to run, to hide....or to listen to our fears, and give them some love. And if you need more brave company in your life, you've come to the right place.
In out-of-the-way places of the heart, Where your thoughts never think to wander, This beginning has been quietly forming, Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire, Feeling the emptiness growing inside you, Noticing how you willed yourself on, Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety And the gray promises that sameness whispered, Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent, Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled, And out you stepped onto new ground, Your eyes young again with energy and dream, A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear You can trust the promise of this opening; Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure; Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk; Soon you will be home in a new rhythm, For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
For a New Beginning - John O’Donohue
- Charlie Mackesey for the beautiful illustration [from the book The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse'
- John O'Donohue for the magical poem 'For a New Beginning'