“Mom, I’m really impressed by your fear level,” my 10-year-old tells me today. You see, he’s made up this rating system where every fear someone has gets a score of 2. In his words, if you have more than 50 fears, giving you a score of 100, you’re screwed. Because I’m only afraid of snakes in his mind, I’m pretty badass.
The thing is, though, we discuss, it’s not that I’m not afraid of more things (Remember the rollercoasters from last summer, kid?), it’s that I don’t let fear stop me from doing things. Except roller coasters and snakes. No, thanks.
So now I’m up to a 4 on the fear rating system, which is still pretty impressive.
What’s the secret to facing fear?
You know how fear sounds in your mind: it tells you to stay right where you are. You may be stuck, but at least you’re safer than out there in the big bad Unknown. You may be unhappy, depressed, angry, but where you are right now is all you’ve ever known and there’s security in that. Who cares that you’re miserable? You probably deserve it anyway.
Man, fear is not nice to you.
Finally you reach a breaking point where you know you’ll wither and perish where you are stuck, and you decide something has got to change. You may not know just what that something is, but it has to be different.
Here’s where the secret comes in.
This is an exercise I picked up from somewhere along my life’s journey, so I can’t claim ownership over it, but it’s a highly valuable tool I want to share with you. It’s a guided stream of consciousness writing exercise. This exercise usually only takes about five minutes to do, and gives you such quick and deep insight into yourself.
Let’s take the emotion of fear.
- What does it look like?
- an ostrich burying it’s head in the sand
- turning your head away
- What does it feel like?
- butterflies in your stomach
- a heavy pit in your stomach
- nervous energy
- What does it act like?
- a petulant child
- blaming others
- What does it remind you of?
- your childhood
- lectures from guiding adults
- What does it mean?
- fear is ignoring and inaction
- looking busy so there’s no time to do the real work, the work that moves you forward and actually heals you
You can do this writing exercise with any person, emotion, or situation that is weighing heavy on your mind. Just write without thinking or censoring yourself. You can even try writing with your non-dominant hand to disengage your thinking brain and engage your feeling brain. Within this exercise you’ll find your answers, those answers you already know but don’t want to admit to yourself.
You see, when you write what it reminds you of you find your core wound around this issue. And when you write what it means you see what you’re really doing to keep yourself stuck. Want to take it deeper? Just repeat this exercise with the strongest meaning from the previous time.
Get in there, dig deep, and set yourself free.
Still feeling stuck? Would you like some help around an issue? Then I invite you to schedule a tea leaf reading where we can work together to get you out of the quicksand.
And please, if you feel like anyone else could use this tool, share it with them. We’re all on this ship together.