Eight years ago, my life coach called bulls**t on my excuses. He was rather harsh about it and I remember feeling hurt, angry and invalidated by him. We were talking about what I wanted to do with my life, or rather, I was talking about how I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t know my true purpose and was frustrated by my lack of clarity and direction.
In general, I knew I wanted to write, I knew I wanted to help others and I knew it had to be somewhere in the spiritual self-help realm, but I had no idea where to start or what to do, specifically, and how the fulfillment of that desire looked.
He had let me go on and on and I was crying, earnestly explaining to him in frustration that if I only knew what I wanted, I’d go after it with everything in me. I felt completely and utterly stuck in my life, and because I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t know how to get unstuck. Over the years, I had started a few businesses and followed a few ideas, but would inevitably lose interest and move onto something else. I couldn’t fully commit to something if I didn’t know for sure that’s what I really wanted, I told him.
Suddenly, after listening quietly for 10 minutes, he finally interrupted and said, “Bullshit!”
I was shocked. He’d never cussed at me before, let alone speak so harshly. I felt like he was calling me a liar. Up until then, I thought he understood me, I thought he was trying to help me. And I immediately defended myself and my perspective, trying to convince him to see my point of view.
“But I really DON’T KNOW what I want,” I stressed, as if emphasizing certain words would increase my believability factor. “If I knew, don’t you think I’d be following it right now? You think I LIKE being stuck?”
I”m sure my face was all red and there was probably a vein popping out of my forehead.
I really believed what I was saying. I truly felt that he was wrong. And I felt someone I trusted was now blaming me for something I honestly had no idea about. Maybe other people he coached knew and maybe they were in denial. But not me, I really didn’t know.
Or so I believed.
I left our session feeling exhausted, misunderstood and offended. He couldn’t convince me that I was pretending not to know because I was afraid. And I couldn’t convince him that I really didn’t know. I truly believed that I didn’t know and I believed that once I did know, I would finally take committed action. But before then, I would remain stuck and paralyzed. Not out of fear, but out of lack of clarity, direction and purpose.
I wasn’t self-aware enough back then to know that he was right. But I was at least aware enough to recognize that when I’m offended by someone or something, that’s an opportunity to look deeper within and go beyond the ego. Only the ego gets offended. The soul never does. So when I’m offended, it’s a sign that something’s stirring underneath the surface. Fortunately, I was able to reflect and go deeper to discover that he was absolutely right.
I was afraid.
And fear, disguised ever-so-convincingly as lack of clarity, was holding me back from living my purpose.
WHY WE LIVE IN FEAR (AND OFTEN DON’T EVEN KNOW IT)
Since you’re a sensitive and empathic being like me, you’re likely familiar with fear too. And since you’re a conscious, curious and self-reflective person, you’ve likely noticed the ways in which fear holds you back, not only from the little things in life, like going to social gatherings where you don’t know anyone, but also from the bigger things, like following your dreams, pursuing your passions and living your purpose.
If you feel stuck in life, I urge you to keep reading as you may uncover some truths about your own beliefs.
As sensitive beings, we not only feel our own fears, we also absorb other people’s fears. And since most people live in a default state of fear, everywhere we go, we’re surrounded by fear. In fact, it’s so pervasive and prevalent that we don’t even realize we’re afraid because it’s become our normal state of being. It’s only when we brush up against the boundaries of our comfort zones and do something new (or get challenged by someone else) that we often feel fear rise. But make no mistake, fear was there before you felt it, you’re just so used to the everyday, ordinary state of fear that you don’t notice it.
At any given moment, whether we consciously think about it or feel it or not, we’re afraid. It’s an underlying, insidious layer of smog that creeps up during the day, almost all day, every day, informing our thoughts, decisions and actions.
And the worst part is we don’t even know it.
Sometimes we’re quiet and present enough to be aware of it, but most of the time, we’re one adversity away from crumbling and we’re too afraid (or ashamed, an aspect of fear) to admit it.
What if your husband leaves you? What if your wife falls in love with another man? What if something bad happened to your child? What if you lose your job? What if your best friend betrays you? What if your business fails?
Can you really take one more hit from life? Hasn’t life hit you enough times, knocked you down on the ground, kicked, spit and stomped on you enough?
It’s because of this fear that we live life in defense-mode, always at the ready, waiting for the other shoe to drop, never fully living in the present moment.
HOW FEAR RAN MY RELATIONSHIPS
Around the same time that my coach called bulls**t on me, after a life-long self-inflicted pattern of dating men who always ended up cheating on me, I swore that if the guy I was then in a relationship with betrayed me, I’d never, ever trust men again and I knew in my heart that I simply could not emotionally survive yet another betrayal. I lived in fear, every day, without realizing it, that he would fall in love with another woman. Back then, I didn’t know my own power so I pretended it didn’t bother me when he stayed out until 3:00 in the morning with his female “friends”, and I looked the other way when he rubbed a woman’s bare chest at a party in front of me, and I pretended to be okay with opening up our relationship so that it meant he couldn’t cheat on me. After all, if it’s an open relationship, then it’s not a betrayal, right?
Yea, I know. Squirm.
I did many things that went against who I am and how I truly felt because I was afraid. I was afraid that if I had to overcome yet one more relationship, that would be the last of me. I’d die of heartbreak.
Well, it happened.
Everything except the dying part, of course. Because I’m still here writing this article now.
Or am I?
The truth is I actually did die. After a long grieving period in darkness, desperation and pain, I found the real me and vowed never again to live in fear. The part of me that lived in fear died and in her place emerged a stronger, more authentic and self-loving woman.
In what ways is fear controlling your life, like it controlled mine and my relationships?
What are you pretending not to know because you’re afraid?
THE MANY LAYERS AND EXCUSES OF FEAR
Think of fear as being multi-layered rather than a one-dimensional feeling that’s either there or it’s not. For most of us, it’s almost always there, we just don’t always feel it. Sometimes it’s a thin layer, like a surface mist we barely notice, and sometimes it’s thicker, like a hard baseball inside your gut. We notice the dense layers when something big or drastic happens, like a car accident, and we viscerally feel it in our entire being as our car spins out of control. Or when we’re hiking and suddenly see a snake on the path, our stomach gets tight and heavy.
But the day-to-day kind of fear, the one that we don’t really notice, this is the kind of fear that does the greatest damage because it holds us back from fulfilling our potential, day after day, year after year, and we don’t even know it.
It disguises itself in many clever ways, such as lack of motivation, lack of time and lack of clarity.
Ever said any of the below?
I want to write a book but I don’t have time.
I want to start a blog but I don’t know how.
I want to start a business but I’m not clear on what kind of business.
I want to fulfill my purpose but I don’t know what it is.
I want to go after my dreams but I don’t know where to start.
I want to take action but I can’t get motivated.
I want to speak my truth but who’s going to listen?
I have so many ideas, I don’t know which one to follow.
That’s all fear talking.
“But Treeeeee, I really DON’T have time!”
Nope. It’s not lack of time, it’s fear.
“No, for real, Tree. I work all day then I pick up the kids at school, take them to soccer, then I come home and cook dinner, then I help them with their homework, do the dishes, laundry, clean the house, put them to bed, read them a story, and by the time they’re asleep, I’m exhausted and have no energy to think, let alone be creative and write.”
Nope. That’s fear talking, making up all those seemingly real and convincing excuses.
“But Tree, it’s NOT an excuse, it’s my life!”
Yep, you’re right.
That is your life right now, run by fear.
Richard Bach, in one of my favorite books, Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, wrote:
Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.Richard Bach
(BTW, I’ve been reading this book at least once a year every year without fail for the past 25 years. Highly recommend it.)
HOW TO RECOGNIZE YOUR FEARS
If you resonated with any of the statements above, here’s my suggestion on how to kick fear to the curb. Allow Stick Girl to show you her very professional kung-fu style kick-fear-to-the-curb stance:
- Sit down alone with a pen and paper. This exercise is better on paper, not on a smartphone, tablet or computer. In fact, turn off all those devices so there’s no distractions.
- Start with a rapid-fire list of all your fears, meaning don’t stop to think about it, just write as many as you can until you find yourself slowing down and having to think about the next one. This is what I call vomiting on the page, it’s a mental dump. You’re basically dumping everything from your brain, your conscious and subconscious, out onto the paper. These may or may not be your real fears… but in order to get to your real fears, we first need to pick away the layers of trash on top of them.
- Reread your list and one by one, close your eyes and repeat each fear silently in your mind. Sit with it for a moment and sense any energy that might come from it. You might feel nothing, you might feel a slight almost imperceptible shift or you might feel a sudden heaviness in your stomach or chest. If you feel anything at all, circle that fear. This has to be a feeling energetically, not just a mental thought in your head. Go down your list until you’ve done this with every single fear listed.
- One by one, take each circled fear and expand on it, dive deeper into it. In what ways does this fear show up in your life? What thoughts do you have around it? Write whatever comes up. Don’t judge it, just write it out. Again, do a mental dump.
- Once you finish writing about each fear, when you feel like you’ve written enough, close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Center yourself into the seat of the soul, shift your perspective from the human you into the soul you, the you that you were before you came into this human body. You know who that is. If not, read this article. Once you’re in the witness seat, read what you just wrote, only this time, you’re detached from the myriad of thoughts and emotions and drama that comes up because you’re not the same one who just wrote this all down. That was your human persona, your cloak, your ego. But it’s not you. You’re a soul. The soul of you has no fear.
There’s no need to analyze each fear, figure out how you got it, who gave it to you, when it started, etc. Taking the witness seat dissolves all need to “work on it”. The only thing you have to work on is getting better and better at stepping back, away from all the mental noise, stories, thoughts, beliefs and judgments, centering yourself into the seat of the soul so that you can simply observe all the chaos without identifying with it and getting lost in it.
This is the shortcut through your fears (and ALL your problems, by the way). By recognizing they aren’t YOU, they’re just part of your egoic cloak, they lose their power and grip over you. Then it no longer matters what fears you have and you don’t have to worry about facing them and pushing through them, you only need to be aware of them as they surface, step back into witness mode and observe as they flow through you.
Fear can be your greatest ally, warning you when you’re in physical danger, and it can also be your greatest enemy, causing you to remain small and live an unfulfilled life.
EXPANSION VS CONSTRICTION
If you have big dreams, even if you don’t know what that vision looks like specifically, but you know that you’re destined for something more than what you’ve been living, take a moment to FEEL the expansiveness of that desire and knowing. When you let fear run you, it feels constrictive. When you’re identified with the ego’s fear, there’s a sense of constriction, hesitancy and limitation. When you’re identified with your soul, there’s a sense of expansion, boldness and boundlessness.
It’s the same kind of feeling when you learn something new. Have you ever read a spiritual book and learned a new concept that blows your mind? Or read something that resonates a deep truth and suddenly you feel bigger than you did a moment before. It’s similar to the feeling of an aha moment, as Oprah Winfrey says, which is “a resonation. It’s a resonating with what is somehow buried, or suppressed.”
When you resonate with something, it feels expansive. When you resist something, it feels constrictive. Take a moment to feel the difference. Get quiet and sense it. And next time you’re faced with a decision, move toward the choice that feels more expansive than constricting.
If you have a powerful desire to serve in a bigger way, to use your sensitive and empathic gifts to help others, or to create a more meaningful life for yourself, but you’re afraid or have a bunch of reasons (aka excuses) why you’re not doing it now, listen to my talk with The Shift Network at the Evolved Empath Summit.
See details below.
March 10, 2pm – 2:45pm Pacific Daylight Time
Hosted by Bevin Niemann
Deep down, you’ve always known you were meant to do something big, to touch lives and impact the world. But others have criticized you for being sensitive, dismissed your feelings and didn’t understand you. This caused you to withdraw inward and hide your soul’s deepest callings from others, and yourself. If you feel like you have an important message to share but you’re afraid to put yourself out there, this session will help you break out of your fear and fulfill your heart’s call to serve.
In This Session:
- Three common beliefs that keep you stuck. These clever beliefs disguise themselves as valid truths but they’re nothing more than excuses to keep you small and safe, the worst of them being “I don’t know” (what I want, how to start or what to do).
- Two energetic shifts to shatter in-the-moment fears, doubts and blocks that keep you from taking action. Anytime you come up against a limiting thought or belief, use these techniques to instantly reignite the power inside you and move forward boldly.
- How your challenges have prepared you to serve humanity. Your struggles have shaped you into the teacher, leader, healer and lightworker that you are. Tap into your life’s story so you can redeem your pain and transform it into a source of good.
To our expansion,