Let’s talk fear
Did you know there are 3 Types of Fear?
There’s healthy “get away from the tiger” type fear, toxic or spinning unproductive fear and healthy growth oriented fear.
But fear is not something we seek out or embrace in our world. Fear usually gets lumped into the “negative” emotion category along with grief, anger, worry and anxiety.
Yet sometimes, fear can actually be a really really good sign.
I’ve seen more and more in our modern world, this need to put things somewhere. Label things as good or bad, OK or not OK, right or wrong etc.. To be polarized and put things nice and neatly in a labelled box.
But the thing is, life is actually a bit more complex than that.
Life is a bit more grey.
And, this is true for fear too.
Eastern Medicine is based on an underlying principle of flow, of a natural shifting and moving balance that is always at play. As human being, we are constantly shifting, growing and evolving.
Constantly navigating this balance.
We’re both programmed to adapt, evolve and grow AND we a built in survival or safety trigger that is constantly looking for threats or possible danger.
We are here, we have survived over time due to our ability to adapt, learn from dangerous situations and then map that into our genetic code.
Through our evolution, passing this survival code on generation after generation, which has helped us stay safe and survive all these years.
But there is another side to human life, growth and evolution. As a soul or spirit, we’re here to journey and to stretch and evolve as a being.
Life is also trying to get somewhere through us, to have us grow and evolve at the same time as trying to keep us safe.
So this can mean that we have an internal game of push-pull, expand-shrink, stop-go going on all the time.
One part of us is calling us to stretch, expand, explore or take a risk, the other part is shouting at us to close the door, batten down the hatches and stay safe.
As much as it might seem like a desirable idea never to experience fear or worry or anxiety again…it wouldn’t actually be a good thing.
The grace of being human is that our bodies are always giving us the wisdom to understand what’s going on.
We are programmed to heal and to be guided to our next right step of growth or healing…when we listen.
The challenge for so many of us is actually understanding what the body-mind is saying.
When it comes to this world of difficult emotions, there are a few keys that help us navigate them
Understanding them and knowing when it’s a healthy expression vs an unhealthy/toxic expression of the emotion and
Knowing what to do with it. Learning how to move with it, vs trying to bypass it, so you can transform it and use it as the guidepost it is meant to be.
THIS, I believe, is the grace and magic of being human.
So let’s talk about fear.
Fear is a normal, biological and necessary bodily response set up to keep us safe.
We need fear. It’s good.
Example – you’re hiking in the woods and you come across a bear, your body will most likely be flooded with adrenaline and cortisol and you are going to make some pretty rapid-fire decisions to get the F*&@ out of there…safely.
This is the same response you’d have if you were faced with an emergency situation of any sort, or something that is threatening.
Good. This natural survival instinct helps keep us alive.
Hundreds of thousands of years of experience and cellular memory to keep us safe. The “I’ve seen this before, we need to get out NOW” survival instinct.
But there’s a flip side to fear that isn’t serving us.
This side of fear, it’s the part that’s actually keeping us small.
This is where we bump up against ourselves. If we’re meant to grow and evolve, but our body is doing everything to keep us safe in the familiar.
Every time we venture into something new, we’re going to have a fear response that says “don’t do it, it’s not safe/ you’ll get hurt/ it’s not worth it /insert any other thing you might have heard internally when you start to stretch and reach for a goal.
The body-mind will do almost anything to keep us safe.
I know personally, every (and I mean every) time that I’ve gone to stretch into something – when I started to teach, when I ventured out on a world trip on my own, when I started to share my writing, did a first live stream training, saw my first client – I was PETRIFIED.
A voice came in that said, “you’re not good enough, they’ll figure out you don’t know anything, you’ll be humiliated, nobody wants this, you won’t be safe, etc. etc. etc..
And who knows us better than our own mind-body? Who’s got the exact best phrases to keep us small and “safe”…and muted?
The problem with this is that, even though it is absolutely true that there have been times or spaces in the past (ancient or recent) where it hasn’t been safe to fully express ourselves, use our voices, be a woman of authority etc. – it isn’t necessarily true any more.
And yes, absolutely, there is risk. Things we might come up against when we stretch ourselves and put ourselves out there, going for our dreams.
But, if we don’t allow ourselves to stretch and grow and move into the fear even with these feelings, we will keep ourselves small, contained and, often unfulfilled.
Not doing the things we are called to do, those things are our souls callings. Those things that are the whispers of your spirit nudging you along the path of your life.
What you want is wanting you.
What you are called to, what you want, what you feel in your bones that is both exciting and terrifying at the same time, well that’s the thing you’re here to do and to contribute.
So instead of a survival instinct that is needed to protect us, fear can actually be a guidepost or a cause for celebration because it’s showing you you’re on the right track.
In my experience, if you’re not excited and somewhat terrified at the same time when reaching for a goal or dream, it might not be the one that is truly your hearts desire. It’s not the stretch you’re destined for.
A side note – I’m not saying that life is meant to be one constant terrifying journey of bumping up agains’t your fears, but rather a guide post.
For example, if you notice that the things that once felt good are starting to have you feel cramped or confined or you’re noticing that you’re becoming somewhat bitter, resentful or agitated around your work/relationships/living situation/etc.…this is a sign something needs to shift.
It’s a call to change and grow.
Like a calling card from your spirit that’s saying Ok, I have something new for you now.
And I wonder, if you check in, deep down inside and listen, is there something in there just waiting to be heard?
Just know, that the chances of your mind jumping in with every possible excuse as to why it’s a bad idea, how you’ll never be able to make it happen, are pretty much 100%.
So welcome the fearful thoughts, invite them in and say, ahhhh ha, you’re here, I must be on to something good!
Those thoughts are just your primal brain trying to keep you “safe”. Keep you safe by keeping you small and contained in the familiar, even if the familiar doesn’t feel good anymore.
In the 5 Elements theory of Eastern Medicine, the fear emotion is associated with the water element.
It shows up in winter, the time where life is quiet and we need to sit in the stillness and rest in the unknown. It’s the time we don’t have all the answers or can’t see what the path looks like in front of us, but we must trust and have the courage to explore.
Explore the spark of life that come through as a whisper of an idea, an inspiration or a deep longing.
The way we can gracefully move through this stage, and allow ourselves to grow, to shift and to change is by embracing it all with the energy of curiosity.
To ask “I wonder”.
I wonder what this means, I wonder how I could explore this, I wonder what the next step would be.
To be in the beautiful balance of having the curiosity of the toddler that pick us everything with interest and pureness of spirit but blended with the wisdom of age and time to know when something is actually dangerous and requires caution or avoidance and those things that simply require us to have the courage to go for our dreams.
This is the magical balance of using fear to propel you in your life towards nothing less than the life of which you were born.
So use the fear, embrace the fear when you can and know that when it comes, it means you’re on to something good!