“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad
“Water is the most perfect traveller because when it travels it becomes the path itself!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan
Hello, My friends.
Do you ever put off doing what you know you should be doing?
That was my week this week, I chose to do the insignificant things that did need doing, even though they wouldn’t lead me to the one thing that I knew had to be done. I find that I am very good at justifying what I am doing right now, things like vacuuming, or updating and upgrading my wardrobe, sorting through the clothes I have that I no longer wear or like and replacing them with clothes I do like and will wear. As noble and necessary as this is, my motive was to avoid the thing that needs to be done. The thing that will push me out of my comfort zone. And into the arena of my dream. You would think I’d want to step into this arena, since what I’m saying I want is on the other side and I must go through the arena to get it.
Fear is a funny thing, and your brain has a field-day with it. The brain will use fear to keep you where you are. The brain perceives that here has got to be safer than over there, and since keeping you safe is one of the brains primary functions it thinks it’s doing you a favour.
What flavour is your fear? Does your fear show up as anxiety? Are you afraid of what may happen if such and such event happened, are you constantly mulling it over in your mind. Do you worry lot about events that are out of your control? Are you afraid of your ideas or yourself being rejected? Are you afraid that people won’t like you or accept you, which leaves you feeling like you’re not good enough.
Your brain is powerful, fear can be debilitating, it can keep you locked in a cage, misunderstood and feeling alone.
There is a way to move your brain from fear to success. It takes effort, it takes retraining and action.
Action consistently taken overcomes fear. The secret is to move into action in small almost imperceptible ways. As your brain is on high alert for danger, perceived or not, it will have a strong emotional response, which will be felt in your body. When you are feeling afraid where does the fear sit in your body, where do you feel it? In the pit of your stomach, by the tightening of your chest, in your shoulders, as a head ache. These feelings are sent to warn you and are valuable for keeping you safe, however if you are not in any immediate danger, these feelings will keep you static, unable to move.
Let’s say you have a fear of deep water, do you have a reaction to the water when it is at your ankles? No. Why not? Because the water won’t harm you, when your feet are firm. What about when the water is chest height? There could be a bit of fear, that if you slipped your head would go under the water, even though you know you can still stand upright and keep your feet on the bottom. If at this level you feel extreme discomfort, this is as far as you go this time. Next time you’d take a step into deeper water, until you became comfortable with that. Always moving a step forward until the game changes and you are no longer able to touch the bottom standing upright. Now you will need to learn new skills. What would be good skills to learn? To swim? You would learn to swim in the safety of shallower water, where you are comfortable, and able to put your feet down if needed. As you gain mastery of swimming and become more confident in your ability, your fear will subside as you prove to your brain that you can swim in deep water and still be safe.
Now, that’s the external action to overcoming the fear of water over your head. The internal action is where you retrain your brain. To do this you first acknowledge that you have the fear, and find where it sits in your body. You ask the fear what it is there for, what are you afraid will happen if you go into deep water. My guess would be, you’d be afraid of drowning. Is there an event in your past that happened that has given your brain evidence that this is a direct threat to you. If so, you get to go look at that event with new eyes.
All events in our lives are circumstances that happen. It is what we believe about these events that continue to travel with us through time. An event happens in a moment in time and is something every one can agree on. It is a fact. It is recordable. Anyone looking at the event can agree on the facts. Our belief around the event is the emotion we attach to it. Some of our emotions are not helpful in allowing us to move past the event. The emotion we hold of the event is our story and is created by the way we think about the circumstances around the event. You get to choose how you feel at any given moment in time, choose thoughts that empower you to get the most out of your life.
With the water fear, you would rewrite your story about the event, changing the fear response which is a reaction to your thoughts. You would investigate what thoughts create the fear, and begin to change them. Now, you won’t be able to go from “I’m afraid of deep water.” to “I love swimming and diving into bottomless pools.” because your brain will laugh at you, and remind you of all the ways you can’t do it. Your mind will roadblock you and create self sabotage to keep you where you are. If on the other hand you told yourself, “I am aware I’m afraid of deep water and I’m learning to swim.” Your brain goes true, and makes the shift to allow you to succeed in swimming. As you get more effective in swimming you upgrade your thoughts, “I am becoming a strong and confident swimmer.” to “I love swimming and diving.” and before you know it you’ll be at “I love swimming and diving into bottomless pools.” As your action increases along with your mental patterns, you will find you make permanent changes. And deep water will no longer cause you to resist in fear. Rewiring your brain with affirmations, creates a new belief system.
You will only ever do, be or have to the upper limit of your self image.
Fear is our friend, it tells us when to be alert for danger, it also tells us what is preventing us from achieving our dreams, by keeping us small and in our cage.
Will you join me this week and step out of the cage that fear has you trapped in, the door is unlatched, push it open and step out into freedom. Face your fear and do the scary thing anyway.
Confidence lives inside you, find it, put it on like a cloak, and walk in the strength that you can do scary things.
I am wearing my cloak of confidence, and striding toward my dream, marching into the arena of life.
Until next week, face your fear and be your most authentic self.
For help opening the cage door and stepping into freedom,
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Together we can set you free from fear that keeps you paralyzed.