You see, for as long as I can remember I’ve had butterflies before I do anything of consequence. Nervous energy to the point of wanting to throw up or pass out in some cases, like final exams, or talking to a crowd of people, or attending a social event on my own.
But lately, my butterflies have stopped me from pursuing things that I’d like to and which could lead me down a path I dream about. I wondered if it was just a self doubt, because if it was I could talk myself out of that surely.
I’ve come to realise it has less to do with confidence in myself and more to do with the fear emotion. The fear of judgement, the fear of failure, of downfall, of never being good enough, or just the unknown. In fact most of my decisions and actions are fear based. And fear is only really meant to be drawn upon when we are in a flight or fight response, like being chased by a lion or followed by a stranger in the city at night – this is when fear helps. But in everyday life surely it should not be directing every little thing I do. That’s no way to live!
So I started to think surely there is another way.
Happily, there is.
Theoretically, fear is like any other emotion that comes and goes, but when it’s ruling every decision you make there is no ‘goes’. So I decided to have a conversation with it when it comes up.
‘ oh, hello, i recognise you. you’re the fear in me, telling something bad is about to happen. that i shouldn’t bother studying because I could never know enough to be good enough at my job. well guess what. you’re just fear. just another emotion, like all the others. i’ve seen you come, I can see that you’ve settled in my belly as a tightly wound ball, and now i’m going to see you disperse because you’re not helping me at the moment ‘
I decided to be open to the other side of the rickety bridge. Whatever it is. Instead of letting fear linger and choosing to hold back in the safety that I know, I decided to be a bit vulnerable. Take in the moment, rather than be consumed by ‘what if’s’.
As I sat down to study, it came up like clock work. So, I noticed my surroundings, what I could hear and feel. I looked up from the books I was studying and heard birds. I smelled flowers from the garden and the pewey doggy bed next to my feet on the floor. I noticed the hard and grounding floor under foot. The inside of my shoe. The shirt resting on my shoulders and how it felt when it fluttered as the breeze passes through the window. Then I noticed my breath. 10 relaxed normal breaths, the shoulders rising, ribs expanding, cold air that turns warm as I breath out.
And I return to my books. Free of fear.
This is called mindfulness, and I’m learning to make it part of my life. It will take a while to change the habits of a life time. But I am on my way to being fear free.
How often does fear consume you?
Maybe this technique could help you to.