Monday, January 19, 2015

Big magic.

I wanted to share something I was led to online. It was written by Elizabeth Gilbert, the mastermind writer behind the famous book Eat Pray Love.
She wrote about fearlessness, and did so in such a wonderful way...


Dear Ones -

Can I speak out for a moment against the word "fearless"?

Cool! Let's go.

Over the years on this Facebook page, I've been hearing from a lot of you, about how you want to become fearless.

Some of you had it for your New Year's Resolution for 2015.

I've also heard many of you say that you want to live more creative or adventurous lives — but that you need to "get past" your fears first. You say that you need to put your fears behind you, or to fight against your fear, or to conquer it, or to silence it.

Yesterday, when I put a posting up here about having fire in your belly, many of you wrote back saying that your fear has killed the fire in your bellies, and that you now want to kill the fear, in return...

But I don't think that's how it works.

I'm an enormously fearful person, by nature. I was born terrified, and I was an incredibly freaked-out and panicky child — and I still am full of fears. Just last night, I was awoken in a cold sweat by a full-on terror dream about public speaking. (I lost my notes, had no idea what to say, couldn't find a nice dress to wear, couldn't find my way to the stage...etc.)

I gave up fighting against my fear a long time ago. I found that the harder I fought against my fear, the harder it fought back. (Generally speaking, life has taught me that the harder you fight ANYTHING, the harder it fights back.)

These days, I try instead to make room for fear — with a sense of respect and appreciation.

Lots of room.

People want to leave their fears behind — but you can't. You just have to make friends with your fear, and make space for your fear, and make peace with your fear.

I recognize that my fear has a role in my life — to protect me against unknown outcomes. (You fear assumes that all unknown outcomes end in your bloody death.) All my fear is trying to do is save my life. You have to give it credit and appreciation for that. So whenever my fear arises, I thank it. I say to it, "I understand that you are part of me, and that you are necessary for my existence, and that you are the reason I am still alive. So thank you."

But then I politely explain to my fear that I will be going forward with the project or the activity, anyhow.

It's not a fight; it's a conversation.

I do this all the time with creative endeavors. I tell my fear that me and creativity are going on a road trip — and I INVITE my fear to come along with us. I explain to my fear that I won't try to kill it, or to exclude it. I explain to fear that it is very welcome to join us, and even to have a voice. But I also explain to my fear that it won't be allowed to make any decisions along the way. Only creativity and I will be making deciisons. As I always say to fear, "Get in the minivan with us! You are part of this family, and you are coming along for the ride!" I say, "Thank you for your input, but with all due respect, you don't get to choose the route!"

I have come to understand that creativity and fear will forever be linked — because creativity always asks us to move in directions of unknown outcome, and fear HATES unknonwn outcome.

I have made peace with that reality.

All of which is to say: I really don't believe in fearlessness.

I don't think it's a wise or sane goal.

I believe in integrating all the parts of yourself into one functioning family. And that means never leaving your fear behind — just as you would never leave any family member behind — but just bringing it along for the ride.

Because the truth is, we can all live together without fighting — all the different parts of ourselves. That's how you integrate all your parts into one healthy whole.

That's what's called A FULL LIFE.

So don't leave your fears behind, Dear Ones. Instead, leave behind your fantasy of "fearlessness", and replace it with a goal of living gracefully within your complete and whole humanity.

Then onward you shall go (even into the realm of public speaking!)


She's so right. Why are we striving to be fearless? Why has that word always stood over me like everything I want? When I think of life without my fears, sometimes it sounds so appealing. It also sounds like I would be hollow without them, in a way.

My fears are helpful. My fears are part of my journey. They are a reflection of my wounds--and my healing. I am not them, but they are a part of me.

If I love myself, I have to love all if it. Even the parts that may be embarrassing. 

Gotta embrace the full you for a full life. 


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