Tag Archives: failure

You’re Making a Scene

Do you ever question why you feel bad? The majority of the time I feel bad is as a result of a thought I’ve just entertained.

Without the thought, I’d feel perfectly fine. I’d be in the moment.

However when I live in my head, thoughts of shoulds and shouldn’ts, worst-case scenarios, overwhelming to-do lists and doomed-to-fail expectations flood me with feelings of annoyance, panic, disappointment and exhaustion.

The thought of what needs to be done teleports me into a bad mood. The thought of the consequences of breaking out of my comfort zone keeps me barricaded inside it. The thought of the negatives eclipses the positives.

Thoughts can cause energy leaks, destroy special moments and meddle with my relationships. Living in my thoughts dishonours what is. It’s right there and I’m missing it.

Armed with this realisation, whenever I feel bad, I ask: Is this feeling a product of a thought I’ve attached to?

If it is, I acknowledge it and let it go. If it isn’t just a thought, if it really is my feeling, I allow myself to fully feel it so that it can transform and so that I can heal and grow.

The average brain thinks about 50,000 thoughts per day. There’s no use trying to resist them. Simply observe them and let them float on by like clouds in the sky.

The danger is when you identify with your thoughts. If it looks like your ego’s making a scene, disentangle yourself from it. Pause. Breathe. Release.

Get out of your head and come back into your body. Stop thinking. Feel your way through.

I still catch myself holidaying in my head. It’s like a booze-fuelled break from reality. It’s certainly not boring up there but it’s seriously unhealthy and leaves me feeling drained and full of fear.

When I notice that my thought-inspired dramas are spilling into my reality, I make the decision to STOP THINKING. I have to make that decision on a fairly regular basis.

I remember to count my blessings, breathe and be present. I swap my critical, fear-based, lack-based self-talk to a more loving, gentle, encouraging pep-talk.

Thoughts will come and they will go. One minute they’ll tell you one thing, the next minute they’ll swear it’s the opposite. Why would you believe such an unreliable storyteller?

The truth is in this moment. Not in your thoughts about this moment. But in this beautiful, unadorned present moment.

This is your reality. Right now. Look at it. Listen to it. Give gratitude for it. Breathe into it. Now.

Mindfulness-Movement

Sometimes

Do you ever feel so bad about yourself that you can’t fathom that great things could happen? You don’t believe in yourself. You forget all the good that you do.

Sometimes.

You close yourself off to all the love that surrounds you. You compare yourself unfavourably to others and see everyone else as confident, successful, flourishing…

You focus on the negatives. You spot rejection, failure and disappointment in every comment, action and imagination.

Sometimes.

You push loved ones away then hate yourself more for doing so. For self-destructively banishing what you crave: love, care and affection.

They try to love you. They offer you acceptance. But deep down, you’re never going to measure up or be worthy of their naive loving of you.

You shut down the love. You silence the laughter. You dare not believe in your potential. It frightens you.

You sob. You cry. You let go. You open up. You let him in.

Sometimes.

A smile breaks through. You can’t help but laugh. He’s so good.

He sees the best in you. You want to be that person. And one day, as you sip on a coffee in the afterglow of his presence, you realise that you are.

You are that bouncing, brave, beautiful person that he admires. But you block yourself.

Sometimes.

You think thoughts and you believe them. You identify with the bad.

You stop dancing. You don’t feel the music. You forget who you are. You exist but you cease living.

Sometimes.

While the real you simmers patiently beneath. Always there. Waiting for you to shake off the shackles and rejoin the dance.

Ready to roar in perfection. And smile and love and shine. And be free.

He loves you because finally you remember that you love you. You just don’t believe it.

Sometimes.

Image: Author's Own

Image: Author’s Own

The Work Tools

Something happened recently that disappointed me. However, part of me insisted that it wasn’t a big deal, that I was overreacting and that I should get over it and move on. And I did. I mentally high-fived the new easy-going me.

In a conversation this evening, the same issue resurfaces. I receive new information that triggers me all over again.

I end the chat as quickly as I can. I’m just home after a very busy day and I’m starving but I’m too upset to eat.  So I fly up to my room and mutate into a wailing, thumping, tantrumming child.

I’m surprised to see that I’m angry. Anger is an uncomfortable emotion for me. I tell myself that I need to calm down.

I put my phone on silent, sit on my meditation cushion and tap on how I’m feeling (click here for more on EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique).

The anger pours out, as does the hurt. I allow the ego to have its say. What it says and how it speaks sounds so petty and silly that I start laughing. Then the tears return. As does the rage.

Even as I write this, it sounds overdramatic. I don’t want to worry family and friends over something so “trivial”.

That stern, no-nonsense part of me wants to assure you that it really isn’t a big thing. But what message would I be sending my sobbing inner child if I silenced her like that? And so I continue.

google.com

google.com

The tapping uncovers deeper feelings of not being important or special enough. Of being a “psycho”.

I should pretend that I’m fine because if I reveal my real feelings, if I ask for what want, I will surely and immediately become unloved and abandoned. And if that happens, I’ll feel so bad that everything else will be ruined.

With these imaginations, I’ve catapulted myself from a meditation cushion on a fine Friday evening to a near future of doom and failure. I may need another tool…

So I turn to Byron Katie’s transformative process The Work. The first step of The Work is to come up with a statement which is making me feel bad.

The statement I go for is: I’m overreacting. 

I then ask four questions.

The first question is: Is it true? Is it true that I’m overreacting?

Yes, I answer resolutely. Because nothing anyone does should make me feel bad. Only I can make myself bad. So I am overreacting. I should be zen at all times.

The second question is: Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

Again I respond with a Yes because “I should know better than to react this way”. However, I also know that a No to this question would move The Work along nicely.

Once I give myself permission to say that No, maybe I’m not overreacting, the reasons for why I’m feeling this way become clear. No wonder you’re upset, I comfort my poor inner child. There, there.

Then for question number three: How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?

When I believe that I’m overreacting, I reject myself. I tell myself that I shouldn’t feel the way I’m feeling. I don’t have a right to speak up. My needs aren’t as important as the needs of others. And if I act like they are, those other people will become angry and leave.

The fourth question is: Who would you be without the thought?

If I didn’t have the thought I’m overreacting, if I couldn’t have it, I wouldn’t doubt myself so much. I’d be clearer about my needs. I’d know what I want and what I deserve. I wouldn’t beat up on myself and I wouldn’t feel bad for feeling bad. I’d love myself.

This year, I promised myself something powerful, something life-changing:

I will not abandon myself any more.

This evening, in spite of the pain, I refuse to turn my back on myself. I give myself some much-needed, much-appreciated love.

Regarding the situation, I don’t know yet what the next step is. But maybe acknowledging how I’m feeling, getting to the root of these emotions, seeing that I’m as deserving as anyone else, and loving myself throughout is enough.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Little Camino

The past month has been weighed down with money worries, career anxiety, fear for the future and feelings of insecurity. This in turn has had an effect on my self-esteem; how I see myself and how I feel when I’m with others.

The main outcome of a much-needed business coaching session this week was that I need to love myself. And yesterday, I had another revelation.

I’ve been depending on external factors to make me feel okay. I’ll be good enough if and when… I’ll relax when I’m earning more money. I’ll be worthy when I have a flourishing business. I’ll feel secure when my boyfriend does and says all the right things.

However, the reverse should be true. I need to feel good first, anyway, irrespective of anything or anyone.

I have to love myself just because. I must stop placing conditions on my self-acceptance.

And I definitely need to stop waiting for someone else to make me feel good. Because that strategy is destined to fail. Catastrophically.

It’s guaranteed to foster pressure, disappointment and resentment. Feelings become extremely precarious. One action, one word, one thought has the power to tear everything asunder.

What I want to do now is come back to me. That creative, happy individual who knows herself, and who has a full and balanced life with work and friends and hobbies. Who now also has a boyfriend who’s gorgeous and good and full of love and enthusiasm.

But just because I’m now in a relationship doesn’t mean I should lose myself in it. An intimate relationship is actually an opportunity to find myself more deeply than ever before.

I need to live my life. Do the things that give me energy and inspiration. Be there for myself.

I have to stop abandoning myself whenever things go “wrong”. I must remember my worth, see my light, and know that I’m deserving of love and all the good things in life. I need to focus on all the positives that are right there in front of me.

Today is Thursday and I have the day off. Part of me feels ashamed that I’m not busier, that I’m not a part of “normal” working society. Then I remember that I have to stop rejecting myself.

“What’s the most loving thing I could do for myself today,” I ask.

An image of walking in nature flashes before me.

“The sea,” I think excitedly.

“Healthy, delicious food and coffee. And a good book,” I add.

I’ve come up with the perfect recipe: I’ll hike along the coastline from Bray to Greystones, have lunch in one of my favourite restaurants The Happy Pear, then wander back to Bray.

IMG_7281

Most “normal” people work on a Thursday so I go alone. And that’s kind of perfect. My very own mini-Camino.

I don’t listen to music and I put my phone on silent. The weather goes from windy to sunny to rainy.

As I walk, I start thinking. Then I realise that I’m feeling bad. I observe this with interest.

Nothing has actually happened in the here and now and I’ve still managed to make myself feel bad. When instead I could be enjoying the beautiful views of aquamarine waters leaning into the horizon, mountain and birds and yellow furze. I could be breathing in the fresh air. Appreciating this time, this peace, this space…

IMG_7279

So today I choose to come back to me, to stay with me, to love myself and to make myself happy. Because when I’m present to myself in this moment all is right in my world.

Today I take this big lesson from my little Camino back to my working life and to my romantic relationship but most importantly to my relationship with myself.

IMG_7278

Images: Author’s Own

Just Doing It

I’m currently making my way through Susan Jeffers’ bestseller Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. So far, I’ve learned that there’s no point in waiting for the fear to subside before you tackle something.

There’s also no sense in assuming that none of those successful people out there experience fear. They do. To quote the book title, they feel the fear… and do it anyway.

I know somebody who’s recently got a big job promotion. She admitted to me that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Nonetheless, she’s doing it. And the likelihood is that this daunting place she’s now in will soon become a comfort zone. As the saying goes, you’ve just got to fake it ’til you make it.

Susan Jeffers suggests doing one thing each day that takes you out of your comfort zone. Because the place outside of that zone is where you’re challenged to grow.

That magical place is where opportunity manifests. And the contentment (or misery) that you were once resigned to transforms into an energy and fulfilment that you could never have imagined.

I’ve decided to accept Susan’s challenge. So far, the things I’ve done aren’t particularly dramatic. But they’re getting me used to changing my perspective, pushing myself and trying different things.

In the last week, I’ve showered at the gym and done my makeup in the communal mirrors (my comfort zone would be to come straight home after a workout). I took myself to a different venue for coffee and I drove somewhere new.

A couple of nights ago, I spotted an interesting man on an online dating website. Out of habit, I exited his profile.

I don’t initiate conversation with men, I thought. That’s their role. They prefer the chase. And that suits me because I don’t have to risk rejection.

Then I remembered my vow to feel the fear and do it anyway. So I messaged him. I haven’t heard back from him. The ego took a slight kick to the nads but that’s all in a day’s work for a fear-feeling go-getter.

And over the weekend, I used the gym (fitness classes are my comfort zone). I even requested an assessment with a trainer who could design a programme for me. The receptionist booked me in for an appointment with an instructor who I really fancy.

This morning, my fit fitness instructor took me to a private room where I had to take off my shoes and socks (I’m very self-conscious about my feet). He weighed me and told me how fat I am (well, the percentage of fat in my body).

Then, he devised me a programme and showed me how to do all the exercises. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him work (yes, I’m a total perv!)

I just got motivated.

I just got motivated.

In other news, I was very saddened yesterday to hear of inspirational speaker and author Dr Wayne W. Dyer’s passing. Wayne Dyer was my first introduction to the self-help genre. I got so much from his talks and radio shows. He was a truly excellent speaker.

A few years ago, I attended an event in Glasgow that Wayne spoke at. During the lunch break, my friends approached the speakers with books for them to sign. Striking up conversation with these people was something I shied away from so I took myself for a walk instead. After lunch, my colleagues gushed about meeting Wayne Dyer and the other amazing speakers.

And during my very first Life Coaching session with a fellow student, a suggestion was made that I contact Wayne Dyer and ask for advice on my business. I recoiled from the idea and never followed through.

I’m not beating myself up now for missing these opportunities but Wayne Dyer’s passing has highlighted the importance of embracing the moment rather than shrinking from it.

Wayne Dyer did so much good with his life. He helped and inspired so many people. He wasn’t afraid to shine his charismatic light that illuminated the way for so many others. Or maybe he was afraid. But he did it anyway. Thank you, Wayne. All my love.

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway opens up your world to an abundance of happiness, scariness, rejection, excitement, achievement, failure, success, growth, learning and fulfilment.

All you have to do is acknowledge the voice that constantly denies and declines, warns and negates. Realise that it’s perfectly normal to be afraid. Then muster up the courage to propel yourself out of your comfort zone and into the unknown.

So my advice is to feel the fear and go do it anyway. You’ve more to lose by not doing it.

You may think you know best but all you know is what you think you already know. However, when you plunge into the unknown, you know nothing. And that’s when the world knows better. So life gets better. You get better.

Good Cheer

The other day, I was listening to a show on Hay House Radio. The topic was the importance of having your own personal cheerleaders – friends who will rally around during the tough times and cheer you on to succeed.

One of the women referred to a time she was speaking at an event. She asked the audience: “Who here has someone they can call when something goes wrong?” Everyone immediately raised their hands.

Then she posed a different question: “And who has someone they ring up when something really great happens?” A few hands went up slowly.

Interestingly, people seemed reluctant to share good news with their nearest and dearest. I wondered about this.

I imagined asking the audience to explain their hesitation. They would probably confess to not wanting to brag. Some would worry that their happy news would make others feel miserable about their own lives. Others wouldn’t want to invite envy or begrudgery.

And a few people would be afraid of “jinxing” it – admitting that things were going well would put a curse on it and cause everything to come crashing down around them. And they’d all suffer terribly and die an excruciating death. Or something equally calamitous.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

Why does it seem more acceptable to regale others with our misfortunes than with our achievements? As children, we were warned not to get too big for our boots. Who does (s)he think (s)he is? was an oft-heard phrase describing anyone who dared to exhibit a dirty word called confidence.

Thankfully, I now think for myself and I’ve decided to work on my confidence and look for the best that life has to offer. I hope that the people around me wish me the best. And I wish them the best too.

There is actually enough good stuff to go around, despite what the superstitious old wives told us. One person’s success doesn’t guarantee somebody else’s failure. It doesn’t work that way. Believe in abundance and you’ll be rewarded with it.

The older I get, the less patience I have for people who wallow in negativity. Of course, we’re all entitled to a shoulder to lean on during the challenging times. We all need someone to vent to.

But there comes a point when you’ve got to change the record. Stop complaining and start brainstorming.

What you focus upon multiplies. That’s why I like to spend time with positive people. That’s why I give daily gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life.

And that’s why, when I heard this discussion on Hay House Radio, I was instantly able to think of a friend who I can contact as soon as something amazing happens. I can gush and glow, boast and bow, and do a little self-congratulatory dance in front of this friend because she’s the type of person who genuinely loves when good things happen.

And she’s not just a fair-weather friend. When I told her about a funeral I was attending yesterday, she instantly offered to accompany me. Her mere presence beside me in the car as we drove towards the church was enough to make me feel secure.

And guess what? I’m going to brag just a little more. I’m lucky to have other friends and family members who I can go to with my happy-clappy tales and with my woe-is-me soliloquies. And I know that I’m that go-to person for lots of people too.

Do you have a personal cheerleader for when something fabulous happens in your life? Do you have someone to call upon when you’re feeling overwhelmed? And are you that special someone for anybody? In both circumstances?

Do you concentrate more on the feel-good or are you a victim to negativity? Remember, wherever you put your energy is where the energy will go. Think about it…

fitnessandhealthspot.com

fitnessandhealthspot.com

Release Me

Last night, a Facebook friend shared Doreen Virtue’s post about how the full moon and lunar eclipse is the perfect time to release anything toxic or completed from our lives.

I’m ready to release everything that is no longer serving me well. I release:

  • Anxiety about an imagined future.
  • Fear of rejection. Fear of not being accepted, wanted, liked or loved.
  • Old patterns, fear-based and limiting beliefs, negative thoughts, judgements and attachments, and any stagnation and resistance that have been blocking or damaging me.
  • Harmful habits, behaviours and relationships.
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
  • Trauma, hurt, grief, sadness, shock, disappointment and anger.

I’m willing to release:

  • Any barriers that I’ve constructed. Now that I’ve dismantled these barriers, peace, happiness and love are flowing freely.
  • Shame. I am enough. I am loveable. I am worthy.
  • Fear of failure and fear of success.
  • Unhealthy needs and desires. I am now present to my wholeness and perfection.

I happily release:

  • Worry that I’m lacking in anything and I accept abundance into my life.
  • Codependency, control and guilt from my interactions with others.
  • Preconceived assumptions or historical perceptions about people, places and things. I am present, open and loving to them as they are, now.

Finally, I release myself from the grip of my ego. I observe it with interest and humour as it plays out. I learn from it and so I evolve.

What are you willing to release? As Doreen Virtue says: “Trust that when you close one door, a better one opens.”

favim.com

favim.com

Into the Wild

“We’re supposed to be different. Thank goodness.”

I posted these words on my Facebook page yesterday evening along with a quote from Susan Cain’s insightful book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

IMG_3812

In Quiet, Cain explores the differences between introverts and extroverts. In a society that seems to reward the confidence, charm and exuberant energy of extroversion, introverts often feel the need to step up, speak out and pick up the pace just so they too can succeed at life.

In the questionnaire at the beginning of the book, I scored a whopping 18 out of 20. This signifies that I’m more of an introvert. It means that I enjoy my own company. I need space and time alone. I recharge by spending evenings in with a book or a movie. I get energy from walks in nature and lying in the sun. And I like to sit in stillness and reflect on my feelings and the meaning of life.

I’m a thinker and a writer. And I’m sensitive. Sensitive to beauty, music and wonderfully worded pieces of prose. I’m sensitive to energy, people’s moods and violence on the television.

I feel deeply. I get depressed. An act of kindness can bring me to tears. I marvel at the many miracles of the universe. Spirituality is more important to me than material things. I’m passionate about life. But at times I feel like I’m drowning in it.

When I feel intimidated, I shut up. It can take me a while to feel comfortable around new people. On nights out, I’d rather not compete with the loud music and the din of chatty pub-goers. So I don’t. My voice just doesn’t seem to carry. If someone really wants to hear what I have to say, we have to lean in to one another.

However, when I’ve had a drink, none of that matters. Cain likens an alcoholic beverage to a glass of extroversion.

Most people aren’t exclusively introverts or extroverts. I love being around people and I lead a fairly busy social life. I enjoy meeting friends and trying out new hobbies but I much prefer participating in deep conversations with one or two people rather than chatting in large groups.

I recognise the benefits of team playing and brainstorming but I work best alone in a quiet room where I can retreat, silence my phone, and concentrate.

When something is bothering me, I tend to write, meditate, read and think. Then I discuss my problems, one-to-one, with someone I trust.

I end romantic relationships if they’re not right. I’d rather be alone than with someone who doesn’t help me flourish.

favim.com

favim.com

Last night, I watched Into the Wild for the second time. This true story is based on American adventurer Christopher McCandless. At twenty-four, Chris has fulfilled his parents’ dream of getting good grades and going to college. Then, instead of attending Harvard, he burns the remainder of his college fund, cuts up his social security and credit cards, and disappears, without a word, into the wild.

One of the reasons I love this film is because I feel it’s quite balanced in its storytelling. The different characters have different viewpoints, personalities and lifestyles.

We learn of Chris’ perspective on life. He resents the control and expectations of society and his parents. He wants to roam free. He needs to be independent and true to himself. He’s happiest when he’s diving into lakes, climbing mountains, and living off the land.

When he enters Los Angeles, he regards the skyscrapers and city-dwellers with an expression of disappointment and despair. We can almost see his soul dimming as he trudges through the metropolis. He imagines how his life could have been and he doesn’t regret his decision to break away. He can’t even stay one night there.

We also hear his sister’s version of events. She understands Chris’ reasons for abandoning the family. Her parents desperately desire a particular way of life for their son. Their intentions are good. This is the only way they know how to guide and protect him. But they’ve also caused their children a lot of pain. Ultimately, we watch them suffer too.

This movie really got me thinking. Was Chris acting selfishly? Was he foolish and naive? Or was he right to go on his own journey, to figure out his meaning of life, to really live and experience and come to his own conclusions?

busaff.com

busaff.com

I’ve often felt different. I’ve struggled to fit in. I’ve felt stifled by society and I’ve agonised over the following:

What is being true to yourself? And what is running away? When do you stop living in the clouds and finally conform? When do you “settle down”?

Then there are the shoulds and norms of society. You should be responsible. That’s what being an adult is all about. You need a good job. You can’t live without money. You need your own home. When are you going to find a husband? Will you have enough time for children? For goodness’ sake, you won’t survive without a pension.

I got 525 points in my Leaving Certificate but secondary school may as well have been a battlefield for all the anxiety I experienced. I did well at swimming and athletics but competition didn’t sit well with me. I dropped out of college twice.

Truthfully, the only reason I went back to college as a mature student was because I felt I had to. How else would I become a functioning member of society?

I obtained a First Class Honours degree and received the Sunday World Cup for Best Student of Journalism with a Language. Though proud of my achievements and happy to gain approval from the people I care about, it added to the pressure I felt to do more with my life, to live up to my potential and to succeed.

And I don’t do well under pressure. So instead of applying for jobs in journalism, I threw myself into an alternative world of acupuncture, homeopathy, personal development and spirituality. And I’ve never been happier.

Of course, I still experience paralysing moments of fear. The voices in my head go something like this: What are you doing with your life? Grow up. Be normal.

So I tentatively move forwards with one eye clamped on everybody else in the world who’s doing things the “right” way. I compare, criticise and compete. I alter my behaviour and try to change who I am in the hope that I will prosper. I worry that I’m not adult enough for this big bad world of business and mortgages.

But what does “adult” mean? How “should” a 34-year-old woman live? Why must we all melt into one right way of doing things? We’re not all the same. That much is very clear.

Yes, there’s a reason why most of us follow the well-trodden path in life. There’s safety and security in the tried and tested route. Most people want to see life’s landmarks so they know where they are and what to expect around the corner.

But some of us thrive on change. The unknown excites us. Newness is revitalising. It’s what keeps that spark inside of us alight.

It’s a relief to realise that we don’t have to be the same as one another. We don’t have to compete because we each have unique gifts to bring to the world.

There’s no point trying to do things his way or attempting to be as good as her because you’re not them. You’re you.

Some of us want to climb the career and property ladders all the way to the top. And some of us are quite happy to keep our feet on the ground.

Whether we’re commuting to our permanent jobs, bringing our children to school or backpacking across the globe, we can be fully alive and true to the essence of who we really are.

Whether we’re writing fantasy novels, saving lives, cleaning the streets or designing websites, we can be the people we’re meant to be.

Whether we’re introverted or extroverted or a dollop of one and two tablespoons of the other, we are unique and perfect just as we are.

We’re different and brilliant in our all of our shade and all of our colour. We blend and we clash and we all come together in this stunning masterpiece of humanity.

We may think we know who we are. We stamp ourselves with neat and convenient labels so we can understand and make sense of the world around us. But life changes. We change. We grow and develop and we dip in and out of lots of different attributes and characteristics. Every colour of the rainbow is available to us to try on and see what suits us best.

And whether we’re paying into our pensions or collecting the dole, none of us can really know what to expect next. Nothing is certain.

The weather is unpredictable. And the terrain is constantly changing. We may want to know the exact directions to a predetermined destination. But we are all, in fact, walking into the unknown. We are all on a journey into the wild.

favim.com

favim.com

The Fear

One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with over my lifetime is fear. Over the past few days, I’ve examined this fear and I’ve discovered that it has many, many layers.

There is fear of making mistakes. Fear of doing it wrong. Fear of failure. Fear of getting into trouble. Fear of criticism, disapproval and rejection. Fear of my own feelings. Even fear of happiness in case it were to disappear.

Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not being talented enough, competent enough, confident enough, pretty enough, slim enough, and the list goes on…

Fear of losing hope. And fear of having hope because I’m bound to destroy it.

As I shower this morning, I realise what’s really lurking behind all this fear. It’s fear of being found out. Found out to be stupid, incapable, ugly, unlovable.

And so this fear has prevented me from going for jobs, moving abroad, writing a book, staying in relationships, opening up to friends, and telling people that I like them. In short, fear has stopped me from putting myself out there.

Once I make this discovery, I can logic it. What is it about stepping out that I’m so afraid of? That people will discover that I’m human? Scared? Imperfect?

Aren’t these the things that I love and admire in other people? Don’t we feel more connected with other human beings when we realise that we’re all the same? Real and brave and frightened?

If I can accept others for how they are, why do I resist doing the same for myself? Why are my standards and expectations for myself so ridiculously high? Is it because I don’t like myself enough or is it because I like myself so much that I want to be the best that I can be? Interesting because this desire is actually blocking me from doing just that.

Over the Christmas, I read Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. Once I delved into the first chapter, I was hooked. Marianne speaks about being paralysed with terror. She writes:

“You’d think we have some compassion for ourselves, bound up in emotional chains the way we are, but we don’t. We’re just disgusted with ourselves, because we think we should be better by now. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking other people don’t have as much fear as we do, which only makes us more afraid. Maybe they know something we don’t know. Maybe we’re missing a chromosome.”

This really resonated with me. I forget that other people feel fear too. Everybody does. We just don’t hear about it all that much. We think that other people just get on with it. They do and they grow and they succeed.

And I compare myself unfavourably with the whole human race. I neglect to focus on my own courage and achievements, which are many.

I dismiss my own journey and instead listen to the family members and neighbours as they comment on So-and-so’s flourishing business and Thingymajig’s promotion and new home and Yer-one-down-the-road’s wonderful partner and family.

“They’re doing so well”, they gush. And I hate myself a little more. I see other people’s highlight reels on Facebook and I wince in self-judgement.

Last night, I lay in bed reading Oprah Winfrey’s lovely book What I Know For Sure when I had an Aha moment. Oprah speaks about her fear of seeming arrogant. She writes:

“In some ways, even my weight was my apology to the world – my way of saying, ‘See, I really don’t think I’m better than you.'”

When I was younger, I was teased for being “posh” and using big words. I was also teased for having a rather large bosom for a 13-year-old. And I was beaten up because a girl’s boyfriend fancied me.

After those experiences, I was careful with my language and I tried not to appear full of myself. I changed the way I behaved depending on the group of people I was with. I didn’t flirt. And I made sure not to do anything too different so that I could avoid unwanted attention.

When other people were miserable, I downplayed my contentment and instead broadcast my difficulties. You see, I’d say. I’m not a threat. So you can like me.

Now that I understand where all this fear comes from, I have a choice. I choose to no longer allow fear to immobilise me. I want to take risks and move forwards and flourish. And I understand that I do love myself. I’ve just been confused about how to show myself this love.

From now on, I’ll love myself when I have the courage to shine. I’ll love myself when I’m gasping with fear. I’ll love myself when I do. And I’ll love myself when I am.

The trick is to understand that we all feel fear. Our bravery lies in our ability to push forth anyway. In Oprah Winfrey’s words:

“Sometimes moving on terrified me. But it always taught me that the true meaning of courage is to be afraid, and then, with your knees knocking, to step out anyway.”

keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat

The other day, my friend told me she’s reading a book called If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat. “What a great title,” I exclaimed.

My friend replied: “I know. It’s really good so far. It’s all about looking at what your boat represents and when you should and shouldn’t get out of it.” “Yeah,” I muse. “It’s so true. The boat is your comfort zone. You want to do amazing things but you have to challenge yourself in order to do them. It’s so easy to stay in the boat. It’s safe. But you could walk on water if you just got out!”

Last night, I was having a similar conversation with another friend. She spoke about how opportunities often come our way but we have to be open to receiving and accepting them. “That’s a good point,” I agreed. “We need to be open to receiving them and we have to have courage to accept the challenge.”

Right now, I’m feeling anxious about an upcoming event. I want to not be so nervous. I’ve done the preparation and I’m getting on with my day but my stomach still hosts a basket of butterflies.

Suddenly, the book title pops into my head and I realise that I’m lucky to have something like this to be nervous about. This is what it feels like to get out of my comfort zone. I’m open to opportunity. I’m saying yes and rising to the challenge. I should be proud of myself. And I know I’ll do well and I’ll be delighted that I’ve gone through with it.

From now on, I’m going to treasure that feeling I get when I step uncertainly out of the boat, unsure if I’ll get wet or make a fool of myself or even drown. Because this is what it feels like to be alive. This is what it means to say yes to life.