Accessing Courage: Melting the Iceberg of Fear
It is a remarkably beautiful Friday morning. The sun rising, the sky so clear. Pink soft clouds on the horizon. It’s pristine. And as I head out into this day, I am frozen in fear. Feeling like I am walking on a tightrope, and if I make a wrong move or take a wrong step, I’ll fall to my peril. What is this all about, you ask? This is so silly. It’s about showing myself to the world. It’s about sharing my voice with the world. It’s about following through on requests from people that I work with to share the nuggets and the wisdom that I receive through the work that I do. And it is seemingly so simple, and I can do it all day long with teams, with individuals. But when it comes to the vulnerability of sharing my voice to people I may not know…when it comes to the vulnerability of what people will think or what people will say…when it comes to this desire for perfection, to have it all buttoned up, all figured out, all anticipated, I remain frozen in fear. And this moment of fear is as big as any I have experienced in my life. This moment of feeling stuck in quicksand, because of the fear I have of what the world will think and of possibly failing is what stands between me and my path. This is what stands between me and being of service in the world. This is what stands between me and offering a higher level of work to anyone who wants it. So, I must find a way across this edge. I must find a way out of this quicksand. I must find a way to remember that there is a net underneath me on this tightrope. That is what I need to recall. That is what I need to dial into. And what is that? Where is that? How can I do that?
Well I have to draw on courage. I am in a moment when the only antidote to what I am facing is to draw on the courage that resides in my heart. So, I am going to practice and use one of the simple tools that I share with my students and clients all the time and see what happens.
Here is my prescription for one way to access the courage that you need to move through fear and into action.
First, take a deep breath, get centered wherever you are or go to a place where you can have a moment of solitude, a moment of peace, a moment of un-interruption. And close your eyes and think about the time in your life when you have had to be the most courageous. When in your life have you had to be the most courageous? And allow yourself to step back in time and to put yourself there. To physically feel where you were and what was happening. Replay and recount that experience. If it helps to share it out loud, then share it out loud. That may give you more access.
I will share my moment of courage out loud right now. At least one of mine. Many of you know the story of my husband dying in a paragliding accident. My daughter was just five years old. I was notified late on a Monday night by a knock at my door by two local sheriffs. So that was the shock of my life, but the courage of my life came the next day when I had to tell my five-year-old daughter that her daddy had died and that he would not be coming home. And as I recall that moment, and what I did to summon the courage, it’s a little painful but also powerful. I got some guidance from a children’s grief counselor on the kinds of words to use. I enlisted the support of my sister who I love and trust above all others. I got softly prepared. And then I sat down on the living room floor with my daughter and my sister and my sister’s daughter. And I began the conversation. “I need to let you know that something has happened with your daddy.” “Oh, when’s daddy coming home?” she asked. “Well honey, your daddy was up paragliding at a big paragliding event for his birthday weekend and yesterday he was flying in the beautiful sky, in the warm sunshine, and he was so happy doing what he absolutely loved. And then suddenly out of nowhere some dark clouds came and some strong wind blew down the valley and your daddy got caught in that wind and in those clouds and they caused him to crash to the ground. And when he crashed to the ground, his heart stopped beating. And when his heart stopped beating, your daddy died. And so, because your daddy died yesterday, he’s not going to be coming home.”
So that event, that moment, that conversation took the deepest courage that I could muster in my life and I did it because I had to do it. And we moved forward from there.
Now fast forward back to this moment. When I’m feeling similar feelings, the fear. The feelings are the same, regardless of the story or the circumstance. So here I sit, with this relatively SILLY thing, of being fearful of looking bad posting myself online. Of being imperfect or being judged. And the feelings are very similar. The feeling in my gut. The feeling in my chest. In my throat. The tightness that I feel in my body. Followed by the crazy mind activity. It feels very similar.
So, what I’m going to do right now, is I’m going to remember and step back into that moment in time when I drew on that courage and talked to my daughter. And as I do so, I take a deep breath and exhale. And as I do so, my shoulders soften, my heart opens, I relax. As I do so, I remember there is a net underneath me on this tightrope of life. It’s an illusion. I cannot fall. My faith won’t let me fall. When I fall, I fall into what’s needed next. So falling to my peril is an illusion. And as I remember and muster this courage that I had at that moment in time, I am going to draw on that courage to post this writing. And if you are seeing this right now, it means that it worked.
As I draw on the courage, I am able to click ‘share’. A very simple little ‘not scary’ action that feels as challenging as the most painful conversation of my life.
So, what do you do when you’re scared about anything? Maybe it’s birthing a child or holding your child for the first time and that takes your courage. Maybe it’s getting on roller skates and doing a loop. Maybe it’s a conversation with someone at work to just tell the truth or provide some feedback; maybe it’s climbing a huge mountain or it’s having a heart-to-heart with your spouse or your child. Maybe it’s jumping out of an airplane or getting on an airplane. Whatever it is, whether you believe it to be big or small is not the point. Whatever it is, the world needs your action, your higher self needs that action and you simply need to draw on the courage that is within you to take this action. So, recall, revisit, relive, remember. And then with that part of yourself, take your action. You can do it. We can do it. And we must do it.
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