Fear, Acceptance, and Skillin' it

by Carrie Renee  •  May 4, 2016

Paralyzed. Contracted. No words. Heart racing.

“Stop looking at me.”

“I have nothing to say.”

Yet I continue talking. A compulsion inside of me continues to self-generate.

“You want this. You have something to share. Just…keep…talking. It will get easier.”

*     *     *

I was deep in it a couple of weekends ago at the Solsara Immersion in Eugene. The shy, introverted part of me that thinks I’m crazy for continuing to step into the role of teacher was very active. On Friday morning, just as the Immersion was getting started, I contracted. A force inside of me demanded that I stay small and quiet and insisted that I would humiliate myself, that I am insignificant and have nothing valuable to say. The message was clear: “STAY SAFE!”

“Am I in danger?” I asked myself.

Well, one part of me certainly thought I was, and yet I could see that there was no real danger. I was in a room of lovely people, next to a supportive co-facilitator, and surrounded by a shared intention to grow and learn.

Yet the fear gripped. It was old, or rather from the young me that got the message, presumably again and again, that being the center of attention was risking everything.

“Ok, young scared me, I’ll include you here. Come, sit next to Larry and me. I’ll hold you as the whole adult me facilitates” (gently patting the illusory girl self).

“Nice try” (grips harder).
“Shit! Including my fear, welcoming my fear, is not working. Sharing my process is not working. I’m still contracted. She’s running the show. She’s ‘teaching’ this class, not the adult me.”

So, what does it mean to “open to love” when the resilient, hopeful me has been obliterated, when love is the furthest thing from my internal experience, and when this is the exact opposite of the way I wish to be in these moments and yet here it is, here I am…?

Can I love the stuckness? Can I love myself even if I don’t like what’s happening, even if I don’t like the particular me that is coming forward right now? I can certainly think “I love myself just as I am,” but can I really do it. What does that even look like? How can I love a part of me that is making my skin crawl? And how can I love that part without an agenda of getting over it and therefore implying rejection of it?

I have found that the degree of my emotional contraction directly informs the degree to which I am able act from a place of control or from a place of love. When the contraction is so strong that control is the driving force behind my actions, I find it’s best to surrender, to seek peace and rest in my experience, to find trust, to let myself be raw and imperfect and vulnerable. Stop doing. Simply nurture being. Actively allow the stuck part to be stuck, or rather to be whatever it is. Erase ideas of “should” or pressure to change or being any other way than exactly how I am.

Ask myself  “How can my acceptance of this experience be a radical act of self love?”

*     *     *

Acceptance is opening to what is. What if we take it one step further and actually embrace “what is” with reverence, embrace whatever is occurring as arrows pointing to the evolution of our life’s fulfillment? What if “what is” is the guidebook to our lives? How would we choose to interact with it then?

When I was young I used to create mini scavenger hunts around the house for my mom. Each discovery had a riddle or a clue that would direct her to the next note, and the next, and the next, eventually leading to some gift or proclamation of love at the end. She would start at the kitchen counter with some clue that led her to the top shelf of the hallway closet, which led her to the toolbox in the basement, and then into the refrigerator with a love note and a sweet treat, each journey sometimes including ten or more clues.

What if our lives were similar to this trail of riddles, not always clear, but without a doubt providing information to the next step, hopefully compelling you forward with curiosity and intrigue?

Is there a prize at the end or some meaningful connection or fulfillment? Perhaps. I am certainly not one to guess. But what I do know for myself is that whatever secret notes I can uncover from the Great Mystery, I am interested. I will open closets, crawl under the bed, get the step stool to get a better view, and sit and ponder where I should go based on what I find.

People often say to follow your bliss, which no doubt has its place, yet just as equally, I choose to follow my fear. I choose to follow my felt experience as a guidepost to my awakening and as the best form of information out there on how to be the fullest me.

Philosophical author Steven Pressfield writes, “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and the growth of our soul.”

So I dive deeper. I dive deeper into service of life, of living, and of being the most me I can be. Fear is a potent indicator that I have reached a new barrier to what I previously thought was not possible. Fear is reassurance that there is something amazing waiting for me on the other side. As uncomfortable and painful as it can be, I have no doubt that fear is my greatest ally to personal growth and making this journey all worthwhile.