Feel the fear and…
How would you finish that sentence? You already know it’s, “do it anyway.” It’s a meme that almost everyone knows.
We all experience fear; heart-pounding-palms-sweating-stomach-churning-knees-shaking fear. No one is exempt, but no one would argue that it’s a great idea to let fear become an insurmountable obstacle that takes you out completely.
Nonetheless, I find it a bit glib and I like ideas that go below the surface, so I’m going to invite you to look at that meme from another perspective. And don’t worry, I’m not going to advocate not taking risks or not stepping outside your comfort zone.
I’m just interested in the start of a great conversation!
How We Can Reframe “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”
To me, on its own “feel the fear and do it anyway” has the flavour of a battle. We learn “how to combat fear” and “how to push through fear” and “how to conquer fear” and other similar phrases that are prevalent in the language of war.
I once spent four days at an event that was supposed to help me break through my fears. From 6 am until 11 pm each day, fear was my constant companion while, heart in my mouth, I did what we were all commanded to do to break through.
I stayed for the whole event, but two weeks after I got home I couldn’t get out of bed for three days. When I reached out to other participants, I discovered, not surprisingly, that I wasn’t the only one who’d had that reaction.
You could say that it was a success because I didn’t leave, but I did not experience permanent change. It was much too intense and intensity breeds resistance.
Instead I discovered that pushing through my fear and doing ‘it’ anyway attracted more situations into my life where I had to push through and do it anyway.
That’s because where energy is concerned, like is attracted to like. And since everything is energy, taking action in fear is an energetic invitation to more situations where we will have to act out of fear.
Who wants that? No one!
If we attract more of the same energy we are vibrating at, doesn’t it make sense that before taking action, we have to raise our level of consciousness? That we have to become more before we act?
Not better. More.
What is the Endeavor For? Know the Why
We have to find a way to tap into the joy and fun and enthusiasm of the endeavour. We must create the right conditions for taking the proposed action by amplifying our excitement and exhilaration and childlike exuberance.
While not as pithy and repeatable as “feel the fear and do it anyway”, what if we changed it to one of these?
Feel the fear and breathe through it.
Feel the fear and see it as an ally, not an enemy to conquer.
Feel the fear and let it guide you to your true north.
Feel the fear and be perfectly imperfect.
Feel the fear and use it to amplify your self trust and intuition.
And most of all, feel the fear and release it consciously through your body. Not by pushing and struggling to get up the mountain, but by listening and responding and letting enthusiasm and excitement transmute the energy of fear and give you the fuel you need.
You will still climb the mountain but you will go up in a completely different state!
Wouldn’t you rather spend time feeling excited and exhilarated rather than acting while feeling afraid?
The Messages in Our Culture About Fear
It’s unfortunate in our society that we receive such mixed messages about fear. There is a certain element in the mainstream that seems to cultivate fear, and in different ways for men and women. It’s confusing and divisive.
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For example, one of the ways the patriarchy maintains its hold on us is by insidiously teaching women to put down and fear and compete with each other.
That has to stop.
This is another way. I read a story recently of a health care worker who was distressed because as she was giving a needle to a sobbing little boy, his dad called him a crybaby and threatened to tell all his friends he cried.
That has to stop.
We will face fear. Stumbling into action while in desperate fear will not bring the results we want.
Instead, we can decide to move when we have shifted into a different state and created the conditions that allow us to move. You may be nervous and out of your comfort zone but you won’t be frozen and completely unable to make a decision.
You won’t attract more of the very thing you’re afraid of.
What’s the Root of Our Fear?
And what are those things that we fear so much?
Being laughed at.
What other people will think and say about us.
Being hurt or killed.
So many things. We all have stories.
But as we walk our own path, and learn to write our own stories, we become more empowered and confident.
There is a wonderful poem by Spanish poet Antonio Machado. My introduction to the poem was through a musical setting of it by Canadian composer Imant Raminsh.. Two of the lines are:
Caminante, no hay camino
se hace camino al andar.
Roughly translated they mean:
Walker, there is no road.
You make the road by walking.
There is no set path or right way to face fear. Honour your way as you open up to a greater awareness of why you’re afraid, and through your fear, discover your deeper purpose.
And up the mountain we go.
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