I’m honestly not quite sure what to write this week- because things have been hectic and busy and, well, good. But I think that all this goodness has an incredibly powerful foundation. The abandonment of fear.
Despite a fear of heights, I am deeply in love with hiking the mountains of my home state. Sometimes it takes mental discipline to ignore my shaky legs, tell myself not to look down- so that I can do what I love. When we hiked to Ptarmigan Tunnel in GNP this summer, I got through it with a lot of help from others, humor, and the desire to make the end goal. I even managed to sit on the retaining wall perched above a sheer cliff side. How’s that for giving fear the (hiking) boot?
The subject of fear has captured me this week, and I realized that all the moments of my life where I let others- or myself- down can be traced back to actions I made out of fear. So let’s cut that shit, shall we?
I believe it was Brené Brown who states that we are at our worst when we are in fear. Ever since I heard that, it has struck a chord with me and stayed in the back of my head, replaying over and over. When I look back at my life experiences up until now, every time that I’ve done something that I’m not proud of, every time I have hurt someone or messed up or let myself down, I can trace the cause of my actions back to fear. Our reactions to the possibility of being hurt makes us irrational and often it causes us to approach situations selfishly. We get defensive and secretive and anxious and all kinds of emotional nastiness- because of fear.
This week, something snapped. I feel like I’ve been working so hard to figure out all the details of my life. Where I should work, where I should live, who I should pursue romantically, what my morning routine should be, what sleeping schedule I put myself on, quite literally everything was under the microscope. I was mentally analyzing and attacking every part of myself. I wanted to control every aspect of my life with an iron fist. Because I was afraid. Afraid of failure. Afraid of loneliness. Afraid of financial instability, afraid of tiredness, afraid of judgement, afraid of laziness.
And none of that self-sabotage was productive.
Did you know that 60% of adults can’t go 10 minutes without telling a lie? I heard this little jewel of an insight about a week ago. And I have heard it THREE other times since then. In the course of a week. Do you ever notice that sometimes the universe throws you recurring moments, and it feels like something is begging you to pay closer attention? We resort to lies when we feel fear. When we are afraid of being judged, when we are nervous about being vulnerable, when we are trying to protect ourselves from a truth we know could hurt, when we can only focus on the worst case scenario, we decide to back away from the risk of being honest. This week, I decided to lean in, to stop being dishonest with myself and others.
I finally admitted to my dad on the phone one night that I am just exhausted from trying to make all these decisions when I feel so very lost. I told him it goes back to the root of this blog, the tagline of which is “learning to listen to your gut- when you feel gutted.” It feels impossible to rediscover your intuition after experiencing a life-altering trauma. I am starting to believe that PTSD has a way of messing with a person’s ability to turn the sensory data we receive from our surroundings into hunches and gut instinct. But that’s just a personal theory. (Feel free to chime in if you’re a psychologist who knows certainly more than I!)
All that is to say that- I felt directionless, with nothing to guide me.
I decided to give it up. I found myself yelling at the universe, God, whatever you call it. I yelled at myself, too. I was exhausted. I needed help. I wanted to stop being afraid. So I decided to offer it up. To let go of trying to control everything. To let go of clinging to anxiety and criticism and mistaking it for productivity. Sometimes you have to reach the point where you’re down on your knees begging for relief before you can understand how beautifully simple it is.
Since that moment of desperation, I have tried my best to let go. To put myself in the arena of life. To make moves that I don’t feel ready to make. To stop judging every little decision.
And the goodness started rolling in.
And the moment I realized how changing my mindset was having a marked effect, I kept that ball rolling. I threw myself into more situations where I could be honest and courageous and vulnerable- I started putting myself out there even more.
I know this won’t be a permanent state. I know it’s only been a week of what feels like a lot of new beginnings. I am sure I am bound to have plenty more battles with the state of fear throughout my lifetime. Right now, I’m simply trying to keep this going. I’m training myself to tap into the things that really matter- human connection, moving my body, exercising my mind, indulging in my passions, dropping the self judgement at the front door. I can’t wait to see where my heart guides me once I surrender even more.
I honestly get a little frustrated with this post, even as I’m writing it. It reminds me of times where I have read others’ work about how things started to finally go their way- and my skepticism FLARED. How could others be so certain of the cause of their good fortune? Why does the universe come through for us when it does? Why not earlier? And how do you account for all the things that still aren’t quite right?
If you’re reading this and you’re having these thoughts, I encourage you to simply spend the next week challenging yourself to be courageous. Flex your mental muscles and learn awareness of the voice of fear in the back of your head at all hours of the day. To cut off the monsters of dishonesty and anxiety and self-criticism.
Maybe this meant nothing to y’all. Maybe it meant everything. I think we’ll never really know, though until we try.