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In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about our need to keep fear out of the driver’s seat. This is my daily work. Yes, fear is part of nearly every journey, especially when I am traveling in unknown territories. If I let fear drive me, I will either be stopped before I get very far or perhaps before I even leave the gate. Or I could end up making decisions that leave me treading water instead of moving forward.

As someone who has been significantly challenged by anxiety whenever I am starting something new, I often must do some serious self-talk as part of my kicking fear out of my way. Instead I try to welcome fear by greeting her with love and acceptance and then gently nudging her to the side as I do whatever is scaring me anyway. And in truth, few people know that I wrestle with uncertainty because I tend to embrace the world with two wide open arms and say, Hineini, Here I am! Fear rarely stops me in my tracks.

Since reading Big Magic when it first came out a few years ago, I have been able to better identify when fear has too much control. When that happens, I take a moment to pause, breathe deeply, and proceed intentionally and usually without looking back.

As a young child, I learned that fear is what kept me safe. I was constantly aware that landmines surrounded me wherever I turned. At home, my mother was a loose cannon that could erupt without notice, my neighborhood bullies often left me afraid to go outside, and the realization that I was alone left me with a deep seated need to make safe choices. There was no one to pick me up if I stumbled.

And then for a few years when I was a teenager, I shoved fear out to the way so that I could jump moving trains, embrace all sorts of street drugs, and basically make some of the stupidest life choices possible. Isn’t that what many of us did back then? Life didn’t matter much so I pushed the envelope and did whatever caught my attention.

The self-destructive behavior continued for decades. I would push through fear by doing things like hiking by myself, driving too fast, and inviting people into my life that maybe should stay out of it. Only in the last few years have I begun to understand that these actions were fear driven in a different way. I was afraid of growing old and being alone so I was living like there was no tomorrow or like my last breath could happen at any time.

Today, fear comes from a different place. I fear sudden death or serious illness of my loved ones. I fear abrupt endings of any type. I fear deep sadness when I lose a friend who has simply decided that what we have is no longer what they want. I also fear the devastation that comes when loving partnerships end. I always believe I can’t take it, but I do. Although I must say that another part of me has come to understand that my broken heart can’t take too many more breaks or losses.

My work is to push through my fear when I start telling myself stories that perhaps I am  unlovable or too intense. For the most part, but not always, I am learning that if I feel that someone is backing away from me, I can ask directly if there is truth to the story that I am telling myself or if it is something else. Usually it is something else altogether. On a rare occasion, I need to accept the inevitable and move forward.

In the coming days, I am going to take an idea from one Liz Gilbert’s readers. I am going to start writing my many fears on a chair by gluing or mod-podging strips pieces of paper with actual fears written on it. This way, I can metaphorically place my fears on the chair instead of letting them take up space in my spirit.

I got this – one breath at a time!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,

Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

 

 

 

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