I wrote this a little while ago, and managed to convince myself that I wasn’t meant to share it, that it was just for me. An event I attended today has changed my mind about that. It is a very personal piece, but I hope it speaks to you!
The year after my brother died, I jumped out of an aeroplane that was several thousand feet in the air. Well, I was pushed. Attached to a rather lovely man. But it was the closest I have ever come to jumping.
It was partly a fundraising venture – that was the outward reason for doing it, but I see now that probably more than that, it was a desire to feel alive. To reassure myself that I was really alive. To stretch myself and my experience of the world. To put myself in a situation that was going to scare the hell out of me. To push my fears to the edge and to come through it unscathed, stretched, expanded, changed.
As adrenaline rushes go, being thrust out of an aeroplane attached to a rather sexy fella is pretty high up the list. There was very little risk to my safety, but in the moment of leaving the plane, my stress response didn’t know that. I have never experienced sensory overload like it, and I have been to Delhi! It was scary and exhilarating all at the same time. When we landed, I declared it better than the best orgasm I’d ever had, and asked if we could go up again.
I felt invincible for a while after that. I wasn’t, I was far from it. But I was changed. Something opened up inside me, and although I quickly shut it again, a desire to be more than I was began to awake.
It was scary, and I wasn’t in a position to deal with it, so I shrank away from it, fragmenting, hiding, falling down the rabbit hole slowly but surely. But a little voice in my head would whisper to me ‘You are so much more than you can see…look at who you can be’. She showed me a vision of me I couldn’t recognise, who was light years away from who I saw myself as, who was happy, bursting with love, joy, contentment and happiness. I couldn’t relate it to my reality, so I feared it. I ignored it and pushed it away.
Years later, I am listening to that voice much more than I used to. I no longer fear the vision of myself that she shows me. I actively want it now. And what’s more, I know I am worthy of it. At least, the adult part of me that is looking towards the future with ambition, not fear, believes it.
Unfortunately, there is another part of me that often runs the show.
Twenty years of alcoholism has left me with many fears and insecurities. I worked through a lot of them to get sober, but there are still plenty lurking beneath the surface. The Yoga Sutras tell us that when we begin to clear the more obvious ‘chattering’ in the subconscious, we discover that there are many more layers. Every step of healing will uncover more that needs to be healed. Personal growth is not something that can be done in a couple of years and then you are done with it. It is a lifelong process of expansion, reflection, discovery, difficulty, resistance and growth. We can always be better than we were.
For a while, I was convinced that sobriety would solve all my problems, but then I was reminded that the addiction was the sticking plaster for the real problems – addiction is never the source problem, it is the medication we take for it.
I’m coming up against a lot of my fears now. I am seeking to improve my life, to step into my fullest potential, to live a life of love, abundance, joy, creativity, adventure, growth. And all of this opens up old scars, forces me to confront who I am and to bust through the ceiling currently above me to rise higher. It is terrifying, but every step I take opens my eyes up to what more is possible.
I am in a daily battle with the scared part of me that wants to keep me ‘safe’, to keep me hidden from the world, to stop me from exposing my deepest self, to avoid vulnerability, to protect myself from rejection and humiliation.
But allowing that scared part of me to win this battle isn’t keeping me safe any longer. It did for a long time, but now this isn’t the battle I need to win. It is creating more anxiety in me, stopping me stepping into my truth, preventing me from growing into my purpose, holding me back from doing the things that my entire life, my struggles have been for. As Marianne Williamson says, playing small serves no one. Not the people I can help by sharing my experiences and lessons. Not my seven year old who needs me to provide him with security and a role model for full, wholehearted living. And certainly not myself.
I have spent my entire life trying to convince myself I don’t care what other people think of me, but all the while using what I think others think of me to shape my whole identity. That part of me was shaped when I was a child, and doesn’t really know that it is ok to be a bit weird, to be a bit different, to think a bit differently, and to make mistakes. That this is actually where growth, and the very essence of who I am lies.
When I look at my life with my adult eyes, I see that everything scared 14 year old me thinks is terrifying expands me. Every time she pleads with me to not do something, but I get past her fears and do it, is when I get the biggest growth, when I impact on the world in the most positive ways, when I actually speak to people in a way that helps and inspires. Right now she is telling me I can’t possibly write that last sentence, because isn’t it arrogant to say that I help people? The adult part of me knows that it is true, I have the emails, Facebook interactions and in person conversations to prove it. And how can something be arrogant when it is true.
As I type this I am on a train home from Bath, from the ‘Be Your Own Hero’ event organised by the brilliant Owen Morgan, founder of World Health Heroes. I have listened to some amazing speakers today, and have reams of notes from the talks they gave. I had to leave before the last speaker finished, but before I left, I heard something that I am going to use to soothe the 14 year old in me whenever she pipes up in future.
Warren Ryan, international motivational speaker and teacher, told me (and the rest of the room) “On the other side of your terror is your freedom”
On the other side of your terror is your freedom
Isn’t that wonderful? And so true.
When we do the thing that scares us most, we are free. Free from the fear of doing it (because it is almost ALWAYS worse in our imagination than the reality). Free from the limitations we create that tell us we can’t do it. Free from the scared child inside us that is trying to stop us. Free from the fear of doing the things that scare us.
Stepping out of comfort zones is scary, and we WILL experience lots of resistance to it. But that is where the growth lies. When I quit drinking and smoking, I left a massive comfort blanket behind me, and my life has been so much better as a result of it. Yet when I thought about quitting drinking and smoking before I did, the thought of it terrified me.
On the other side of that fear was freedom from the addiction to obliterating my soul, my health, my self respect, my life.
I discovered what I am 100% confident is my purpose and mission a few days ago. In the next 5 years, I am going to inspire one million women across the world to improve their lives through the transformational power of the breath. This will ripple out to transform lots of other lives as well (When Mum is happy, everyone is happy!).
One million women is a LOT of people. And the world is a BIG place.
If I am to have a hope in hell of achieving this goal, I cannot be held hostage by the fears of my 14 year old self. I have a lot of comfort zones to step through to get there.
I am starting that right now. I wrote the first half of this post a week ago, and it has been sat on my laptop since then, stuck because my 14 year old self made me question how I can possibly write about fear busting when I am so often paralysed by my own fears. But, as another speaker today, Nick Elston said, “I am a work in progress, but I am stepping up”. I am not writing from the place of someone who has worked out how to conquer my fear everytime it rises, but as someone who is just starting to acknowledge how much my fear still governs me. That realisation is a powerful one, and one that puts me a lot further along the path towards achieving my mission than I was just a few months ago.
So, if you are still reading this, my advice to you is this.
That thing you are desperate to do but are terrified of doing? You know it will transform your life in some way, but you are scared you might fail, you might look stupid, people will laugh at you, whatever the fear is.
Is doing the thing going to make your life better if you do it? Is it going to stretch you, heal you, take you closer to achieving your goals and dreams? Is it going to make you healthier, happier, wealthier? Will it allow you to make a tiny part of the world better for someone else? Will you be a better person for doing it?
Do it. Do that thing that scares you. With sweaty palms, racing heart and head full of doubts. If you know you must do it, if your soul is yearning for you to do it, take a deep breath, tell yourself you’ve got this, and do it.
Fear is just an emotion. Sometimes it will save your life, but at other times, it can stop you living.
Don’t let it do that. Break through your fears and live your most amazing life!
You are TOTALLY worth it!
I would love you to let me know in the comments what fears you have overcome and how your life has changed as a result, and please share this post if you think anyone you know would benefit from it!