Skeletal fingers clutch my heart, and I am paralyzed.
I close my eyes and will it away, all the while caught helpless in its grip.
“What is this Fear?” I ask.
In a lifetime spent trying to escape Fear, I have never stopped to really look. I have never wondered what might happen if I turn towards instead of away.
Emboldened, I reach for its tendrils and…
My hand passes through it like smog.
My heart pounds and my body trembles at this thing that has no substance.
It is a figment of my imagination. A shadow on the wall.
A scary thought and nothing more.
Does Fear Have a Purpose?
A strange thing happened to me this week.
I abandoned my morning success ritual.
The story begins many years ago when I learned the power of a Morning Success Ritual. Soon, I had a string of habits each day designed to set my day up for success.
My Morning Success Ritual looked like this:
- Wake up at 5am.
- Wash my face, bruth my teeth.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Do 5-30 minutes of Kundalini yoga.
- Meditate for 11 minutes.
- Journal for 5 minutes.
- Exercise for 30 – 60 minutes.
Over time, this Morning Success Ritual became more elaborate and more rigid. It expanded to incorporate my entire work day (chunked into 50 minute focus segments with 10 minute breaks between) and I used a timer for everything.
Then a few years ago, my structured and regimented life no longer felt like mine.
I began to shed the routines and habits, one by one, and moved into a more spontaneous and flexible way of living.
But a 60 minute Morning Success Ritual, consisting of yoga, meditation and journaling, remained. Until recently.
It no longer seemed like I “needed” my morning routine to “set myself up for success,” so I loosened up. Parts got skipped or shortened, or moved later in the day, and everything was fine.
This new, more flexible routine was working for me, and I was secretly proud that I’d let go of my attachment to it.
Then last weekend as I was meditating, a thought surprised me:
I don’t need to do this.
I really, truly saw for the first time that I was okay, and my day was equally okay, whether I took the time to meditate or not.
The next day, I bumped my meditation without even thinking about it.
And the next, I choose to meditate much later in the day, and it didn’t stress me out.
For the first time, I didn’t believe the thought that, “My morning routine is necessary for me to have the best day possible.”
It was really, really WEIRD, but it also feels like a new kind of freedom.
I can choose to do something or not, but not because “I have to or else.”
My actions can be motivated by desire and a common sense awareness of what my body and being needs right now. I don’t have to motivate myself by fear or shoulds.
I didn’t realize it until recently, but I’d been sticking with my Morning Ritual out of fear of what might happen if I stopped.
You Don’t Have to Get Rid of Fear to CREATE Something New.
I have spent so many years using fear to keep me safe.
Without fear I would surely walk into traffic, jump off rooftops, lose all my money and my heart chasing dreams.
I let it keep me from walking the path of my desire.
But did it keep me safe? Really?
It kept me small and unfulfilled, like a bird who refuses to unfurl its glorious wings and soar.
What if fear is simply a reminder to come out of my fearful thinking, and back into my Self in this moment where I am always safe?
Fearful thinking brings fearful feelings. That’s how it works.
You don’t have to get rid of it, and you don’t have to pay attention to it.
And you sure as hell don’t have to let fear call the shots.
Here’s a letter Elizabeth Gilbert wrote to fear in her book, Big Magic:
I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still — your suggestions will NEVER be followed.
You’re allowed to have a seat and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a VOTE.
You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature.
DUDE, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio.
But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely FORBIDDEN to drive.”
What would it be like if you didn’t have to do anything with FEAR when it shows up?
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