Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ask Parvati 26: Follow Your Bliss - Part 3, Managing Fear and Doubt


(Continued from Name It To Claim It)

“If you don't follow your dream, who will?” - Emeril Lagasse

When we want to start anything new, we usually experience some level of fear and doubt. Sometimes the fear is so great, that we never make it to the starting line. Imprisoned by our fear, we shackle ourselves to what we believe to be true and look out at life, wondering how we ever are going to live the life we want.

Fear and doubt are not bad. I don’t believe any emotion per se is “bad”. When fear and doubt become overwhelming, they hinder our ability to live fulfilled lives. Some fear when starting a new project or embracing life change is natural and can be an ally. It keeps us alert and on our toes. Fear heightens our awareness and can keep us safe from danger.

And so it is with doubt. A small amount of doubt can help us make decisions that are rooted in discernment rather than foolish impulse. Doubt can help us find the courage to ask probing questions and get answers to things that may be less immediately apparent. But too much doubt will keep us from even getting to the starting line.

When fear and doubt become so loud that we talk ourselves out of living our joy, we must stop, regroup and change the way we deal with these emotions.

From what I can tell, everyone has the voices that say, “I can’t. I am too young. I am too old. I am not good looking enough. I am not healthy enough. I am not wealthy enough. I am not talented enough…” The list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on! It does not stop! The “not enoughs” seem to be part of our human shadow. How we manage fear and doubt often makes the difference between those who are happily pursuing a life they love and those who are waiting on the sidelines.

I do not for a moment feel that people who are celebrities are necessarily on their highest soul path. Perhaps singing and dancing in front of thousands of people, or being a movie superstar, or a high-powered business mogul does not challenge these people at a soul level. Perhaps those abilities are a distraction from what they may find harder to do, such as to stay at home, raise a family and be a parent. A true calling does not have to be glamorous.

Whether you are Sally Homemaker or Pablo Picasso, the one thing I do believe people who excel at their lives and are living their joy have in common is the power to manage the voice of their inner critic. Whether you are in business, the arts, science or sports, anyone who wishes to connect to their soul voice has to face their inner critic that will tirelessly provide them with every reason why they should not and could not follow their bliss.

When we are on the path, we have a choice. We can give the power to these voices or we can let them go. If we are to let them go, we must learn to see them as they are. They are distractions, old stories that have no real power other than what we feed them. We must learn to work with fear and doubt in the moment, rather than push them away.

Just as with any emotion, when we try to run from it, it follows us. When we sink into it and become identified with it, we lose ourselves in it. When we run from or sink into fear and doubt, they grow. What we resist persists. Instead we learn to welcome fear and doubt, and be with them. When we are present and stop fighting them, the energy that feeds them subsides. Soon we find ourselves not so afraid, not in such doubt. We learn to welcome fear as it walks along side us, rather than panicking about feeling afraid. Learning to manage our fears and doubts is key because as we travel along our soul path, we will face adversity. As we develop the skill to manage our shadow, we find the room in our lives to choose the light.

(Continues tomorrow with Facing Adversity)


1 comment:

  1. Great entry that gets right down to why we resist our joy. To recognize the fear and doubt for what they are, and go beyond them, is when the fun happens!

    I am reminded of Mary Oliver's poem "The Journey":

    The Journey

    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do, and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice --
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles.
    "Mend my life!"
    each voice cried.
    But you didn't stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundations,
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognized as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do --
    determined to save
    the only life you could save.