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Overcoming Fear

visual of walking in spaces

Fear is the biggest obstacle you will ever encounter in life. I speak from experience, not just my own. Talk about fear and everybody cringes. We are wired by it, it tell us how to live. Until it doesn’t. If we want.

Are you afraid of something now? Good. That means you can start there with that single emotion. You can ask yourself: What is it that I am afraid of? What is it that intimidates me into a full stop? Is my fear real or hypothetical? Will my movement into action despite the fear push me towards growth?

Dealing with fear

First sign post is: It’s ok to feel scared. Let the emotion take space. Let it occupy the entire room. Then comes the time to create awareness around that space. Imagine pointing big flashlights onto that space -room- and inspecting everything that the light hits. In that case you will notice that by holding the flashlight in that space, you are stepping away separating yourself from what it holds and acting as the inspector not just the experiencer. You then are not afraid, you are merely inspecting the state of fear. Recognizing this distance between your true self and fear is a big accomplishment, because then you can inspect your ability to overcome that state. In other words, you can determine how to leave that space or room and enter another one. You can equally then let yourself into another space. Let yourself into a space of courage where you can inspect and experience the state of being brave.

What comes before courage?

All our favorite heroes and heroins share one thing in common; bravery to face difficult challenges. They face things, they do not cower. They might hesitate and go back and forth, because all those experiences exist while they are inspecting that state of fear. However, taking action from that state into the next automatically propels them into champions; especially if there is purpose, growth and common good behind the action.

If you can take anything from this perspective let it be this: We must first accept the state we are in right now, and then assess what we need to move out of it.

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The Fine Line between Leaving and Escaping

An Escapist’s Nod to Growth

Alice falls inside a room filled with doors. Some where large as though a giant made its way in and out of there frequently. And other doors were tiny, almost negligible in size, leaving Alice wondering about what possibly could fit in there that cannot simply make its way through a crack or a whole in the wall.

The doors were strangely comforting, she hoped that those doors lead to wonderful places and that they also offered an exit from terrible ones. As she felt her body shift in size as though becoming larger she wakes up and stares blankly out of bed. She keeps on having the same dream; and she wonders what it means.

A crash of a ceramic plate on the wall across from her room nudges her into a more alert state. Her parents were fighting again. Words were slashing their skin apart and the louder they screamed the more hollow she saw their hearts become. The morning had come, and her day has begun with ruined wall paint and bloodshot eyes looking away from her and into an abyss of misery. A flash of light caught her eye, and she decided to leave.

Alice saw the door and headed towards it to find herself immersed in that exit strategy her entire life.

We all learn different ways of exit growing up. We become experts in exiting situations, relationships, conversations and people. We exit when we do not want to face, when it is unbearable to stay in a room with a door that might offer us a better space than the one we are in.

And so we become escape artists, and our loved ones become just as good. We find ourselves constantly put in similar situations, ones that we learned to end by exiting, and we spend our lives looking for the nearest door whenever said situation presents itself.

We exit when someone is trying to tell us something that might hurt us, we head to the door when people are arguing around us, and when we feel overwhelmed.

So Alice, as do we, finds herself going back to that room filled with doors as she grows up; sometimes she shifts sizes to exit like a giant, and other times she becomes nearly invisible and negligible to be able and fit through the smallest door.

What do we do when we become so good at leaving and so terrible at staying and facing our problems?! What does that make us? Where does that leave us?

Worth a thought? When does the need to stay become more worthwhile than the will to leave? Do we become better or worse off when we always enter a room but look for the nearest exit to feel safe?

Staying takes courage and a pounding heart. It takes looking foolish sometimes by putting on an armor of love and growing elephant ears. Staying requires an understanding that life is temporary, and a decision that this situation, this person, this conversation IS worth the time invested. We do not allow our previously broken hearts to break again, but we allow them to reflect and refract every ounce of love we can muster from the room. Staying can sometimes teach us lessons not just about ourselves but about others. Staying helps us see that we cannot force people out of habit, sometimes we cannot solve other people’s problems; but in our case staying helps solve ours. WE FACE THEM.

The doors are always there, they saved us when we needed them. But sometimes life keeps beating the same lesson into us until we learn it; and that is when we stay and face it. When we leave not out of defeat or fear or panic, but out of love and having done what we could; the door will then not feel like an escape, but like a path towards growth.

So grow my loves, don’t just leave.

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Growth Theory: The One Type of Advice We All Need.

How do you look at your life? Do you perceive it from a day to day lens? Is it a bunch of finite experiences that you believe must be done before you kick the bucket? Is it a set of roles and responsibilities that you must undertake in order to be accepted into your community of friends and family? Or do you perceive life as disconnected groups of reference points that you may or may not get to? It might be a mixture of all of those, and others that this page cannot fit.

I write to tell you something that I wish I could if we were together stuck in a major life moment; one where what you decide might not really change your entire life as per what is popularly believed about major decisions, but will tell you A LOT about who you are. Major life moments uncover a facade we live under. Most of us are not prepared before such events, we do not know when or how they are coming but they do. Believe me.

Back to the scene where what i tell you will immensely influence how you feel about the choice ahead; I look at you with excited eyes and you nod eagerly. I have this wise aura surrounding me and as my lips begin to move; you suddenly find yourself slapped in the face -lovingly- as I simply say ” I have zero advice for you. Figure your crap out I cannot be responsible for decisions you make that are of such high impact. I can tell you though that even if you make a truly bad decision ( a pure judgement) I will support you. So knock yourself out, live the life you have. “

This my friend is the adult advice we all need. We need this advice from family and friends, we need it from significant others and from our neighbors. See our human experiences do indeed teach us a lot, but they do not teach us one major thing- a way to live everyone else’s lives including ours. It is the easiest thing to give our opinions about how someone chooses to live; but to influence someone’s life so deeply as to steer an invisible wheel into their future is unfair and egoistic.

The best thing we can do for ourselves is to learn about how we wish to live our own lives. So judging others really goes nowhere, feeling like kings on sinking rafts spewing out judgement about the stars and what must be done by everyone is quite remarkable and funny. Freedom is a skill we cannot learn with everyone hovering over us secretly training us by rewarding behaviors they agree with, and punishing unpopular thoughts.

The most beautiful humans are those who are genuinely happy and accountable for the decisions they make. Even if they have unpopular ideas, or quirky ways of thinking what matters is that they spread their wings as wide as they can and with no shame. So don’t let society pluck out your baby feathers, don’t let people convince you that there is only one way. Listen to everyone and truly internalize the words you hear from people who love you; learn from experiences and educate yourself. Know that there are some universal truths, some general laws of physics and morality that you are better off not messing with, but find a light and grab all the support you can get and just grow out your damn wings.