Using Fear as Your Compass

Raccoon

What scares us usually pushes away rather than towards the fear. Fear is an indication of danger. It’s a sign we should be running away rather than confront it.

That’s not what bestselling author and well-known blogger Seth Godin says. In his podcast with Tami Simon of Sounds True he debunks the myth of fear and turns it on his head.

Ever heard of Charles Pollock? Probably not. We’ve all probably heard of famous painter Jackson Pollock. But his brother Charles was also a painter. Godin says, he wasn’t an artist. He spent his career painting like his teacher.

…no one’s ever heard of him, and he changed nothing. The reason is simple: because Charles avoided his fear and Jackson danced with his fear.

Fear is now a compass. The noise in our head—the resistance—is a compass. It tells us when we are onto something—when we are about to do something important or personal or real; when we’re about to do something that might make a difference.

So, if every time you hear that inkling in your head, you run away, you will become a wandering generality—somebody who doesn’t make the impact you’re capable of. But—and I’ve talked to people who choreograph ballets, I’ve talked to directors, I’ve talked to people who have built companies, people who have done things that don’t necessarily feel artistic but have worked—and all of them tell me the same thing. Which is: that feeling is when they know they’re about to do something important.”

We all have opportunities to do things that matter to us. But the more important it is, the more it matters, the scarier it is to do them. It’s much easier to give excuses, quit, and run the other way. But you will never fulfill your true purpose if you hide.

Every time we’re scared, we think we’re not ready. We think we don’t deserve the opportunity. But that’s just resistance rearing its ugly head. The truth is you would never have been given the chance if you weren’t ready, talented, and deserving. It’s all a mental game. You just need to go through it to succeed. Be a Jackson Pollock and not a Charlie what’s his name.

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Inspiration to Confront Your Fears

{by Prawny via @morgueFile}

{by Prawny via @morgueFile}

I’ve been MIA because I’ve been dealing with something kind of heavy recently.

F-E-A-R.

It’s reared its ugly head again and all my defense walls are up. I’m ready to give up, throw in the towel and use every single excuse not to face it.

It’s so much easier to sit back and watch everyone around me grow more successful. It’s much harder to be in the ring wrestling with every single critic, self-doubt, and past insecurity of my lifetime. I wear it like a skin. And confronting discomfort is like sloughing that skin off. It’s painful.

But there’s been a lot of things inspiring me lately. Like the singer on The Voice that is uber talented, but doesn’t believe in herself. When she lets go of her insecurities for a moment, her melodious voice gives me goosebumps.

Then, there’s pro-golfer Michelle Wie who says in her interview with Self magazine and that I wrote about here, the game is 80% mental. It’s changed the way I envisioned success. Unless I tackle my inner critic, any talent I have or hard work I put in matters little.

Then there’s Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, which is always on me like the bible:

The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.

What Henry Fonda does, after puking into the toilet in his dressing room, is to clean up and march out onstage. He’s still terrified but he forces himself forward in spite of terror. He knows that once he gets out into the action, his fear will recede and he’ll be okay.”

If I am successful at defeating my fear, you will see me come June in a Hawaii event. Wish me luck!

If you would like to see me confront my fears and join me on dealing with your own through relaxing activities like meditation and sipping on tea, I’m teaching another workshop on Saturday, April 25th in Wahiawa. It’s soon so make sure to sign up here as soon as possible. You can also email me at bauyemura AT gmail DOT com.

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Confronting True Fear

{Etsy art print by SincerelyNoted.}

{Etsy art print by SincerelyNoted.}

We all suffer from bouts of fear. There’s your normal laundry list of worries (financial, relationships, career, health) and some not so common ones (birds, heights, etc.). Secretly, I believe a lot of our fears presenting as foes are actually friendly teachers in disguise. They help us overcome challenges and beef us up to be stronger individuals.

And most of the time what we worry about is so far-fetched that it’s pretty easy for a friend, therapist or religious teacher to point it out to us.

“What’s the likelihood of you really _______ (contracting the latest illness, getting killed by spiders, being alone for the rest of your life, etc.)”

Maybe statistic wise, slim to none.

But what happens if what you fear is your reality? What if what you’re worrying about has some bearings on the truth?

These are questions that hit me recently when I went from married to married with kid.

The fear that something could truly happen to that little baby you carried for 9 months and dreamed about even longer is excruciatingly painful. And while many times it’s like any other worries that run the gamut in your mind (not likely), what happens when there’s a real and true possibility that it could really happen? That’s the kind of odds no one likes to play with.

It’s the same thing if you’re dealing with a chronic illness or loss of a job. The fear of the unknown is painfully unkind.

The question switches from, “How likely is this to happen?” but,”What happens when it does?”

Dealing with Real Fear

When you’re actually confronting what scares, all worries stop. There’s just you and the fear. It is true moment-to-moment living. In your wildest imagination, you could twirl with the possibility of what-if back and forth in your mind. Worrying can feel like a full-time job. But when you’re face-to-face with what’s freaking you out, there’s only one option: react or respond.

How you choose to deal with whatever scares you is a true testament to how you perceive your life. Do you feel like the world controls you? Are you living life as someone empowered or in fear?

I was watching Pastor Joel Osteen talk about choosing peace even in the midst of chaos; that when the waves are rocky above the ocean, there is still stillness at its bottom.

Sometimes I forget that life doesn’t always require action. The most powerful thing we can do at times is to have faith in doing nothing. Things generally work themselves out after we’ve 1) done everything we can 2) surrender. We like to think we can control everything in life. Letting go can seem to be the least attractive thing when we’re controlling by nature. But sometimes it’s the only way to get through whatever scares us.

The single best advice I can give you is this: Walk blindly through your fear, naked and vulnerable, but powerful because you have love and faith as your greatest weapons.

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Embrace Your Weirdness

{Etsy journal by WordsIGiveBy}

{Etsy journal by WordsIGiveBy}

I spent the majority of my youth, shying away from what made me weird. I hated to stick out from the crowd so I used of a great deal of energy trying my best to dumb it down.

Boy do I wish I hadn’t done that.

When age allowed me the freedom to be my weird self, I realized that what made me unique was a gift, not a weakness. If everyone was the same, life would be boring, if not, impossible. It’s the things that separate us as people that helps us to survive, thrive and to be human. In fact, if you can hone in on what it is about you that sets you apart from a friend or neighbor, you might discover the key to your life’s purpose.

On Oprah’s Master Class, Diahann Carroll says the following about her childhood:

“I was being singled out. I was being, ‘Who does she think she is?’ kind of. It’s part of why people respond to you. It’s seeing the need you have to share whatever you have that makes you special. The unkind things that they say and do, it’s because you threaten them. Your responsibility is to find out why do you think you’re special and is it something that you can pursue and where will you find your support group? We always criticize each other first.”

Her advice is key to finding and fulfilling your passion. To figure it out, you must first devote time to discovering what people criticize you most about. What are they talking about when they ask, “What makes you think you can do this when no one else can?” It’s this type of feedback which feels harsh and judgmental that can signal you to what you were really meant to do in life.

Although I didn’t feel this way at the time, I now am grateful for those people in my life. It reminded me that I did have something to offer the world. My gift bubbled up to the surface because of the people who pointed it out.

As Marianne Williamson has been quoted as saying many times over: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

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Put to Bed the Fighter

{Etsy decal by 60SecondMakeover}

{Etsy decal by 60SecondMakeover}

why it’s good to be a fighter…

I was born a fighter. I think I must have came out of the womb with gloves on. Well except that I was delivered via C-section so maybe I wasn’t quite ready.

I carried this mindset my entire life. It dictated my academics and shot me up from a C-average student to a straight-A’s one.

What that’s led to is a lot of great opportunities and surprising successes. And just as surprising failures.

What I’ve learned in looking back is that it’s not always the fight that wins the battle, but the letting go, surrendering and accepting what is. It’s a great thing to be a fighter. You need someone in your corner to fight for your dreams, to stand up for what’s right, to make a difference. But you need a listener to propel you into the life you were meant to live.

leaning into what is…

When you have an innately fighting personality, you believe with 100% certainty that you can control everything. Your body may be tired. Your soul may be fatigued. But your mind says, “Keep going!” And you listen. What happens over time is that you stop communicating with your intuitive voice. You live on adrenaline to keep going. Eventually, you run on empty and get sick.

It’s the same thing with living your life. I think being a straight A-student gave me the false impression that if I only work really hard, I could get everything I wanted right away. I forgot about ambiguity, faith, the unknown. I forgot about trust.

When you fill up every single space of “what if,” you leave little room for things like magic, mystery, serendipity.

It’s not wrong to go for what you believe in. But you won’t get to your dreams by going on your own. Don’t let your mind drive you all the time. Sharpen your intuition by trusting your instincts and allow your soul to guide you.

The struggle isn’t always the fight. Sometimes it’s about settling in softly into the present moment of the unknown and having the courage to walk patiently without answers, without solutions to your current problem and just be.

 

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Keep Hope In Your Pocket

{Etsy print by JCSpock}

{Etsy print by JCSpock}

I admit I spend too much time worrying about the things that don’t end up even happening in my life. I worry about wasting time, but much of it is spent obsessing over the illnesses I have and the opportunities I don’t have.

Last night, however, I dreamed about possibility, hope and miracles. In it, I was told that everything we think we know about life is just the surface of what’s true. We grieve and bemoan our situation, for example, because we think it’s permanent. We allow logic to override miracle. We’ve grown too accustomed to computers and smartphones that tell us what is true instead of figuring it out for ourselves. And the weather? Trust your forecaster or Siri instead of just popping your head out the window.

As a result, intuition falls to the wayside. Hope no longer exists unless we have evidence to prove it.

Because something seems impossible or improbable we give up. But the whole notion of faith and miracle is dreaming up the impossible. If so, what we believe can be true is delivered to us on a platter.

Sounds easy, but the real struggle is challenging our old and jaded minds. We have to fight the fear of being vulnerable, being wrong, being disappointed.

We knew this as children. Every thing we absorbed then was magical. Do you remember it? But we let the pain and suffering of growing up wound us. Some allow it to wound them permanently.

If we can strip away the negativity, the paranoia, the obsessive need to know in this moment, we might return to that place of innocence, hope and joy. Instead of searching intently for a way to rid of your current ailment, let’s spend a moment in prayer and acceptance for what is so that we may lay open a door to possibility that everything. is. okay.

You won’t get that from the internet, a friend, your spouse, a sibling, or even a doctor. When you sit quietly or stand in the middle of nature, however, you will know it.

Do what you can with what you have and then surrender it and let it be. Life will happen regardless of how much you try to control it. But within those seemingly confining boundaries, there is and always will be hope. Trust in it. Hope is the armor of courage best used in battle. It will carry you through sleepless nights of worry, distrust, and panic. It is the only thing besides love that will help you through the unknown. And when you’ve landed safely on the other side, remember it. Remember that there is always a ray of light upon you just as you look back toward the shadows. It matters not what you go through, but where you’re focusing.

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Will You Live in Fear or Faith?

{Flickr photo by 27147}

{Flickr photo by 27147}

Between moving to our first home and landing a new writing gig, I haven’t had spare time to write for fun, much less keep up this blog. [insert =( here.] But I know the value in doing it. It’s forced me to sit on the ground with my laptop, exhausted after 5 hours of moving behind me.

Why?

Reflecting on this moment is of the utmost importance and sharing all the mini lessons I learn along the way makes it all worthwhile. Even if there are only a handful of you still reading this now.

2012-2013 has been filled with some of my most exciting and painful moments. I’ve said goodbye to good friends, got slammed with unexpected good and bad news and was continuously tested on my faith. The question that kept looping in my head was: Do I choose to live in fear or faith?

To live an inspiring life, many might assume that it means living a pain-free one. Some might think that true happiness is a life void of difficulty and filled to the rim with constant joy, and luck. Those who feel this way can get pretty tied up in feeling sorry for themselves (I can vouch for my own self-pity parties in the past.). But what they don’t realize is true happiness and joy stems from having the confidence to overcome obstacles, from being able to put one foot in front of the other regardless if you know where that path will lead.

Any one of us can easily fall into the gap of paranoia and fear especially in regards to the news lately. Any one of us can stay in the past and glorify a frozen moment. It’s easy to let yourself get overwhelmed by difficulty, problems and uncertainty. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

On the other side of the fence is hope. It’s still scary there. Unknowns lay like hidden potholes. But love, courage, faith there are stronger. I’m not saying that the road is easier. In fact, if you decide to live your life with faith, it may even be harder. But if you choose it, your confidence will grow. And in doing so, you will reap the benefits of a truly lived life.

I meet a lot of people these days who like to play their lives safe. Being cautious feels smart. It feels like the best way to live your life. But play things too cautiously and you’re putting yourself at great risk. You’re risking your ability to love deeply, laugh loudly and experience the life you were meant to live.

We were not meant to live life problem-free. We were meant to bend in the wind, to fall, to bleed, to shed our leaves and grow beautiful like the trees…

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