Fear seems to be an integral part of the human experience – once you overcome the fears in front of you, new ones emerge as you open to bigger opportunities. This is especially true if you feel called to a mission or audacious goal that is stretching you to the limit — it’s likely that doubts and fears are crowding your path.
Some fears are straightforward and can be handled by simply taking a deep breath and moving into action. However, the fear of living your higher purpose can’t be eased with a brute force approach, because living your purpose requires all of you.
Every part of you contributes to your purpose, even if some parts of you seem to be blocking the way right now. To enjoy the inner alignment that allows you to live your purpose, you need to redirect rather than suppress your fears.
My karate sensei Tsutomu Ohshima often referred to the aikido masters who were expert at redirecting the life force of an attacking opponent. We learned that trying to stop an unfriendly force with opposing force not only takes massive effort, it also causes a rebound effect where the attack keeps bouncing back.
If instead we focus on stepping aside while aligning with that problematic force, to help the force continue on its course with ourselves safely out of the way, everything flows much more easily.
It may seem counter-intuitive to align with your fears in order to ease them, but that is exactly what is needed.
One of my clients suffered from stage fright that hounded him as he stepped up to teach bigger and bigger audiences. When his strategy was to suppress his fear, anxiety would often pop back up unexpectedly just as he was about to start his class. That was not a very comfortable situation because he hadn’t prepared for it and had no time to adapt and manage the feelings.
When he learned instead to build a harmonious relationship with his fear, sustainable transformation was the result.
Imagine talking to a fearful part of yourself in this way:
Adult Self: I’d like to talk to the part of me that’s afraid of being seen as my authentic sensitive self in front of a large crowd.
Fearful Part: As long as you’re not going to try to trick me…
Adult Self: I really do want to learn more about you so I can understand you better. Tell me more about what you’re worried about.
Fearful Part: I remember when we were on the playground and everyone ganged up on you and made fun of us and we didn’t understand what they were laughing at and it was horrible, horrible. I don’t want that to ever happen again.
Adult Self: That does sound horrible – and how old do you think we are?
Fearful Part: We’re 8 years old, of course!
Adult Self: Take a breath and look around – we are actually grownups now, isn’t that wonderful? Grownups can do all sorts of things that an 8-year-old can’t. We’ve learned all sorts of wonderful things like how to teach a class, and we’re excited about the class we’re teaching.
Fearful Self: Wow, really? I had no idea.
Adult Self: Of course you didn’t, because you were off by yourself and I never talked to you before. And I want you to know that you don’t have to be with me when we teach, because other parts of us know how and love teaching. What would you like to do instead while we’re teaching? And then you can come back afterwards.
Fearful Self: Really? Wow. Well, I think I’d really like to just go somewhere and play ball.
Adult Self: Wonderful! Tell me about where you’d like to go to do that, and what you would like me to call you now that you don’t have to be afraid for me anymore.
Fearful Self: Call me the Playful Self! And I’m seeing a wonderful grassy field with a bunch of wonderful friends.
Adult Self: Great! Thank you so much for explaining everything, Playful Self – I look forward to having more conversations with you going forward, and hearing about your ball games.
What fears have you been trying to suppress that can be treated like a young friend who just needs loving support and guidance? Once you shift to this approach, the transformations needed to pursue your higher purpose will unfold much more easily.
What insights have you gained about your fears on the path?