I think I’ve lived almost my entire life in fear. Of just about everything. Afraid of people not liking me. Afraid of disappointing them, or making them mad. Afraid of making a mistake. Afraid of not being perfect. Afraid to try, afraid to take a chance, afraid to fail. Afraid of change. Sometimes I feel like I’m paralyzed by fear.
I don’t know why this is so. Perhaps some traumatic event as a child that I can’t remember. It doesn’t matter; all that matters is that I hate being afraid and how it affects my life.
Being ruled by fear keeps me stuck. It keeps me outside of the flow of my life and from living my purpose. Stagnant – like a body of water that stops flowing. My personal tipoff that fear is running my life is when I find myself uncomfortable, irritated, and angry.
Over the past several years, though, I’ve learned that the times I’ve been able to break free and let go of my fears that only wonderful things happen. The biggest illustration of that was when I quit my job of fifteen years, sold my house in which I’d lived for thirteen, and embarked upon my amazing adventure. Three months of traveling the country with absolutely no fear whatsoever (well, except for that one day at Zion National Park when I was too afraid to climb Angel’s Landing). Three months of real joy, freedom, and happiness.
Or the time I sat in my friend Rachel’s church, in the midst of a severe attack of performance anxiety, almost crippled with fear at the thought of playing a solo in front of the congregation, finally being so overcome with fear that I gave up and thought “I have to give this up to God.” At that moment I felt an incredible sense of peace and relief wash over me…and I played with no fear or nerves at all.
Not once but twice moving to Montana, a city where I knew no one at all, trusting that by following my heart and intuition, I could truly rely on and accomplish something by myself, and wound up writing and publishing a book.
So in spite of all that proof that I don’t have to live in the prison my fear creates, why do i fall off the wagon and back into fear time and time again? Lately I’ve been ruled by the fears brought about with my back injury. I’ve let it consume me for the past eight months. It’s caused me to doubt myself, to feel sorry for myself. I’m in fear that this back injury will never heal. I’m afraid that it will place limits on me that I can never overcome. I’ve been afraid to start working out again, even after being told by my physical therapists and chiropractor to get back into the gym. It’s been so long since I’ve worked out that I’m afraid to go back. Me. The person who never missed a day of working out for years. Afraid to step back in to what used to be my happy place.
Fear is insidious. It slyly creeps into your subconscious almost without you realizing it. Subtle little whispers of doubt that make you hesitate, over and over, until you’re stuck in a place of doubt and fear so deep that seems almost impossible to crawl out of. When that happens, I end up so afraid to do anything that I do nothing at all. Then it seeps into all facets of my life. I become stuck in place, uncomfortable and unhappy.
I don’t want to live in fear anymore.
When I think more about it, I think I’m afraid because I feel alone and I’m afraid to trust that I’m not alone. I feel like a little kid perched at the top of a tall slide with my mom at the bottom, ready to catch me safely in her arms. But I’m just petrified to let go of the railing on the slide. Here’s the thing though…I know that as long as I clutch to that slide, as long as I clutch onto fear, I’ll stay stuck. When I visualize that, I hear a little voice inside of me saying, “I can’t help you if you don’t let go.” And it reminds me of a line in A Course in Miracles, eloquently paraphrased by the late Wayne Dyer. “If you knew who walked beside you at all times, on this path that you have chosen, you could never experience fear or doubt again.” What if I could just let go of that fear, and let go at the top of the slide, and simply trust that everything will be fine??
I know that my life has a purpose, and I know that it has to do with helping others. With a book, with a class, with a coaching. The question to myself is, am I brave enough to let go and try?