Forward Without Fear? I don't think so!

I’ve had a low-lying feeling of discomfort over the last few weeks, just niggling away in the background, like riding a bike with the handlebars and front wheel slightly misaligned. Nothing troubling enough to require fixing here and now, but noticeable in the quieter moments of the day.

Not rocket science, this one: I have been anticipating the end of a comfortable contract that kept money coming into our home for over two years. As of last Friday, the contract finished and the money stopped. This is something I’ve been looking forward to, as it frees up a lot of time to focus on my coaching/training business. And, consequently, I’ve noticed an upsurge in excitement and energy to get things done – my sense of impending freedom carrying me through the last few weeks of the contract.

However, that niggle’s been there too. When the excitement quietens down for a moment, or when someone asks me what I’m going to do for money, its pitch rises momentarily before being lost amid the much-more-voluble excitement.

Of course, we have a handy family motto for such moments: “Forward without Fear”. And yet that doesn’t quite speak to it. I AM scared. I can’t and don’t want to deny that truth. There’s part of me that’s all about the potential pressure that I’m putting my family under, about changes that we might have to make, about things we’ve taken for granted that we might have to give up.

Denying that restless feeling in the background incapacitates me more than naming it. By ignoring it, I split myself into the outward, excited part, and a shadowy inward inadmissable part. So, how do I bring these two parts to resolution? Well, I’m not sure that I can, is the honest answer. And even if everything turns out really well, I bet there will still be times in the future when my imagination foresees an end to the bounty and frets about other harder outcomes.

Instead, I need a way to be with the seeming paradox of being excited and looking forward to the future, and being scared and pulling away from it.

This reminds me of a time, many years ago, when I turned up at an Aikido class to find that one of the few Aikidoists that I don’t enjoy practicing with was there. I was torn in two by my desire to practice (because I had a grading coming up) and wanting to keep away from this other student. The two desires created a tension in my mind that made it impossible to relax fully in my body, and I couldn’t do anything during the class.

Then a wise friend’s words came to mind: give credence to both desires as being true – don’t try to submerge one or the other – and move forward from that new place.

On the mat that meant saying “yes, I DON’T enjoy practicing with you, and I DO want to practice tonight”. In that moment, the tension between us dissolved, I got the exercise wrong, and we started laughing. Thereafter, I enjoyed the class as much as any other.

So, my daily practice now (actually, several times daily) is to say “YES, …, AND …”: “YES, I am scared of giving up a reliable income, AND I am committed to doing this work”.

I am recognizing two paradoxical forces within me, that have the potential to split me in half. In so doing, I stretch myself to encompass such paradoxes and still be functional.

And so, back to the family motto, which has niggled at me for a while – because, although it’s meant to help and support, I’ve haven’t felt able to live up to it for some time. I am not WITHOUT fear. I am WITH fear. Now, “Forward With Fear” sounds much more doable, much more realistic, and frankly much more useful, don’t you think?

Acknowledging fear is not a cause for depression or discouragement. Because we possess such fear, we also are potentially entitled to experience fearlessness. True fearlessness is not the reduction of fear; but going beyond fear. ~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

If this a familiar situation for you, too, you might like to spend some time with me studying ways to become comfortable with the apparent paradoxes that we create. I offer group and one-to-one coaching in Leadership Embodiment which uses the body to deepen your capacity to be present with conflict (whether inter- or intra-personal). Contact me to book a free, no-obligation consultation. I’d love to learn how you stick with difficult situations, and to see what possibilities that makes available to you.

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