Giving Voice To My Fears Helped Me Find Empowerment

urlOne day in the not-so-distant past, like within the last month, I had a rare moment of complete clarity around my fears. Usually, when I’m wanting to unearth such things, it takes hours of work, awareness, and meditation. But this was different. All of the sudden, I just had a vivid moment of clarity. They all came to me. At once. Naked. I grabbed a pen and started writing.

1. Parent guilt: I am afraid I do not create space for, or dedicate enough of myself to quality time with my children. I am afraid I allow them too much screen time.
2. Spouse guilt: I am fearful that I am not pulling my weight financially or responsibility wise. I am concerned that I might not be doing enough work to keep the workloads fair between us.
3. Fear of finances: I am worried I will never make enough money to pay the bills and/or accumulate savings.
4. Fear of aging: I am terrified of weight gain, wrinkles, hair in unwanted places… I am concerned that I will become less and less attractive over time.
5. Charlatan fear: I am petrified that I am full of conflicts. I am frightened that I may not be disciplined enough.
6. Fear of insignificance: I am astounded by the grandeur of my dreams. I question my worthiness of such lofty goals that are in line with the great people on the scene like Brene Brown and Jennifer Pastiloff.
7. Fear of not “doing” enough: I am anxious that I am not planning enough workshops, applying to enough conferences and/or retreats.
8. Fear of being a bad friend: I am ill at ease around the decline of the welfare of some of my friendships.

Once I captured all of these, I felt somehow relieved. And then, I had to, absolutely had no choice but to write on the opposite page, the left hand side, I had to write more words of which I did not even understand their origin…

Relax, it’s all OK.
Trust yourself.
Be in love, of love.
Stay connected to your magnificence.
Believe — it is exactly as it should be.
Connection = Joy
You are enough.
Riches come in all forms.

I look back at my journal and read these words. I realize, they came through me, not of me. They were not words I concentrated on or carefully chose. My pen flew across the page, the words pouring forth. I could not have stopped them had I tried, which I most certainly did not.

With regards to my fears — What I realized is that these are the ways in which I expect to be perfect. I expect to be the perfect parent, spouse, forever youthful breadwinner, infinitely important and perpetually wise and kind. In reality, I am not perfect. I do have some perfections, but I also have many imperfections. We all do. And in truth, I am doing the best I can daily.

I drew comfort from these words which transpired during a recent discussion between Oprah Winfrey and Brene Brown on Super Soul Sunday on March 17th.

O: “Perfectionism is walking around projecting the facade that everything is perfect — clothes, car, relationships, family but really, we are slaving to the ultimate fear that people are going to see us for who we really are and think that we won’t measure up to our desired image.”
B: “We think of it as a 20 ton shield protecting us from being hurt, but really, it protects us from being seen.”
O: “It’s kind of sad. Perfectionists are striving for a world that doesn’t exist. It’s attempting to be beyond judgment. But really, there’s no such thing.”

So what is the answer? According to Brene Brown and her 12 years of accumulating scientific research on shame, vulnerability and courage, “The cultivation of gratitude and joy is the way home.” She goes on to say that, “The most terrifying, difficult emotion that we as humans experience is Joy. Not shame, humiliation, fear. Joy. When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. [We say to ourselves] I’m not going to soften into this moment of joy. I’m going to beat vulnerability to the punch. We try to dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch.”

What if instead of slaving to our fears, allowing them to remain silent and hidden, what if we acknowledged them and voiced them? When you voice something, it begins to lose it’s power over you. And who wants their fears to have power over them anyway? I’m comfortable wagering a guess that the answer is no one. None of us want to be ruled by our fears. So how about it? What are you afraid of? And how does perfectionism play a part? How about freeing yourself right now?