What Holds Us Back

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Fear.  I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately and discussing it with clients and friends.  When is fear healthy?  When is it helpful?  And what about the rest of the time?  What I’ve come up with is that on its own fear is neither helpful nor particularly healthy.   Now, when fear is triggered by DANGER, that’s different.  It can save my life.  And yours too.  And that is indeed pretty darn healthy.  But on its own, fear just holds me back.  Because fear is in my head.  It resides inside of me and it isn’t real. It can’t actually cause me a speck of harm.   Danger, on the other hand, resides outside of me.  It does pose a threat to me.  It can cause me harm.  Danger is real.

So take my hike into rattle snake country the other day.  Several friends asked me why I went if I was so scared.   They know I’m really, really afraid of snakes.  Even those that are very small and non-poisonous.  Now, I’ve never had a dangerous encounter with a snake.  Nor have I personally known anyone who has. This fear lies completely in my head.  Of course in the case of the rattle snakes there was actually some real danger.  That’s why I called Ranger Mike.  I got the facts.  Had he told me that the Timber Rattlers of the Adirondacks were vicious and aggressive and had he listed the number of bites and related fatalities this season alone, I would have stayed right at home that day.  But the truth of the situation was that even though fairly large, poisonous snakes resided in the region I was headed into, they didn’t pose much of a threat to me at all.  According to my trusted and expert source, the situation rated pretty low on the danger scale.

My fears were big.  But the danger risk was small.  Very small.  So, with the facts in hand, I had a choice.  A few, in fact. I could have just listened to my scared-of-snakes self and stayed home.  Or, I could have gone on the hike and carried my fears with me, jumping at every winding root along the trail, keeping off the summit stones and not enjoying the expansive views.  To me, these choices weren’t very healthy because they would both be based on my irrational and oppressive fears.  But I had another option.  I could cradle my fears in the knowledge of the actual dangers.   I could let the facts dwarf the fears; compartmentalize them.  To me, that was the healthiest thing to do.  Certainly the most fun of the options.  With the knowledge of the dangers in hand, I chose expansive views, good conversation, fresh air, exercise, and Belgian chocolate over the slithering fears  in my head.

The Negative Committee

from behappy.me via pinterest

from behappy.me
via pinterest

I just love this quote.  It speaks of those berating voices inside our heads that we hear when, perhaps, we look in the mirror.  Or perhaps when we’re embarking on a new project.  Or when we’re reviewing a recently completed project. Or when we’re thinking about changing careers, or going back to school.  Or when we walk into a room of strangers.  Or when we try on a new pair of jeans. You know what I’m talking about, right?  The voices that criticize and critique.  Our inner voices of self-doubt.  They’re all in our head.  Many people say they sound like a parent.  Others say a bully from school. These voices are terrified of change.  When given the power, they’ll keep us right where we are, forever and ever, no matter how good or bad “right here” is.  They’re the voices of fear.  And they’re just in our heads, playing over and over like a broken record or a bad radio station.  Somewhere along our paths, we just chose to keep that station tuned-in.

So go ahead.  Tell that Negative Committee to shut the hell up.  Move ahead with what feels right, and good, and healthy, and what maybe even stretches your boundaries a little.     And while you’re at it, please let me know how it goes.  I’ll be here cheering you on.

Getting Word Out, Getting There

Jon & Maria.  Moving day.

Jon & Maria. Moving day in October.  I wish I’d been clever enough to take photos on Thursday, but I was too preoccupied.

I created a flyer about Meditation Circles at Stairway Healing Arts Center.  I had the notion of pinning the flyer around town to get local word out.  Tuesday morning, at our weekly meeting-of-creative-dynamic-and-entrepreneurial-women, I showed it to Maria.  She gave me her artist’s view and I went back to the Mac to make some changes.  I loved the process of this creation.  I was up until midnight  playing with it.  It really feels like no time passes, when actually the hours slip away.  You know what I’m talking about.  So I finished-up and felt good about the result.  Proud, even.  Then I set it aside.

When I saw Maria on Valentine’s Day, she asked about the flyers.  I laughed.  “I haven’t put them up!”  Something about walking around town, blabbing about myself felt scary, intimidating, and completely out of my comfort zone.  Sure, I’ve come to do it daily on this blog.  I mean, talk about writing your heart out.  But that took years of nudging, and excuse-making, and putting-off before I actually got started.  The idea of putting my own printed word on the bulletin boards of my community felt impossible.  I can’t explain it.  It’s just the way it was for me.

“Do you want me to go with you?” she asked.  “Oh my gosh, would you?  Yes!”  I couldn’t believe it.  What a great idea.  What a great friend.  But the next thought I had was the realization that now I actually HAD to do it.  Oh no.  And I was right, because her next question was, “When do you want to go?  I’m free this afternoon, and tomorrow afternoon too.”  Oh shit.  She had a big smile on her face, because she knew exactly what was going on in my head.   With snakes in my belly, I finally agreed to 1:30 that same afternoon.

Maria and Jon both walked through town with me.  Jon chatted everyone up in his charming way, Maria carried the flyers, tape, and tacks.  Jon teased my nervousness and kept me laughing, telling everyone I was trying this new and very cutting-edge business tactic of actually letting people know about what I was offering.  Maria smiled, told me she totally understood my apprehension, and kept me marching to the next destination.   Stairway Healing Arts Center, Hubbard Hall (thanks Deb!), Battenkill Books (thank you Connie!), Cambridge Food Coop (thanks Nancy!), Round House Bakery  (thanks Scott & Lisa!), Cambridge Public Library, Glens Falls National Bank.  We pinned my Meditation Circle flyers next to the flyers of all the other interesting notices of what’s happening around town.  It was simple.  It was easy. It was painless.  It was fun.  The hardest part was getting there.  And I wouldn’t have gotten there if I hadn’t had the nudging, urging, and support of friends.  Thank you so much, Maria.  Oh, and Jon too (just getting him back a tiny bit.) You’re both wonderful.

Friday morning there were two new people at the Meditation Circle.  They’d seen the flyers.  Sometimes, the hardest part of doing something is just getting there.  Maria and Jon got me around town with my flyers.  They got me there.  I think the hardest part about meditation is sitting down.  Getting to that place.  But it’s so worth it.  So healthy.  Join us at Stairway Healing Arts Center for daily meditation circles:  Mondays & Tuesdays @ 10:30am;  Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays @ 9am.

The Flyer.

The Flyer.