Tag Archives: facing fear

Stop Talking Yourself Out of Your Own Greatness

Priska climbing the classic Star CheckRecently, as I found myself sitting in front of my laptop, tapping away at the final touches of my book  proposal, I’ve drifted away from my usual writer’s bliss and instead have been, oh you know, totally freaking out! You see, the deadline to submit the proposal to my dream publisher, Hay House, as part of the contest they’re holding for participants of last April’s ‘Writing from Your Soul’ conference is quickly approaching. And, wouldn’t you know, all of a sudden, my ego is totally tripping out on me! “Who would even want to read my book” “What are the odds of getting picked with over 500 others in attendance?” “I bet there are some pretty amazing book ideas out there.” As I’ve allowed these thoughts to creep into my brain, they have literally taken over, sucking the creativity and joy out of what is usually one of my most favorite activities, writing!!  I even started creeping into the “why bother?” territory. Yikes!

With just a little over a month away to finish up, fine-tune, and put my best step forward, I didn’t have time for this self-sabotage crapola and needed to snap out of it, stat! Through all of my spiritual work, deep down, I know that this is just the fearful illusion of my ego, trying to keep me “safe.” In reality, I don’t truly believe this crazy-talk deep inside. At first I thought it was fear of failure or fear of rejection. Then, I realized that it was a much deeper fear. All of a sudden, I had an a-ha moment as I heard Marianne Willamson’s voice in my head with her world famous quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Yes, this absolutely rings true! I was on the brink of psyching myself out into playing small. We all do this. It really is our own light that frightens us the most.

You see, all I’ve ever wanted to do is be a writer. When deciding what to major in college, I shied away from pursuing writing as a career because I didn’t see how I could make a living at it. I chose a different path to pay my bills. But, in more recent years, I have been strongly guided towards it again. It truly feel it is my calling. I’ve amassed a lot of experiences and wisdom through the years in my entrepreneurial and life adventures and through my spiritual studies, which has all helped me tremendously with my own personal growth and transformation. I feel that it is my duty to share this information as I know it can help so many others as well.  And, through my blogging, I’ve made so many beautiful connections with readers and affirmed this truth. So, I had to give myself a little Marianne Williamson-esque, “who are you not to be a writer?”

I share this story with you because I want you to be aware of your own potential greatness! But, also to be aware of your own negative self-talk that will try so hard to snuff out your fire. You are meant to shine, baby!! We all are. And by shining your light, you are helping others to do the same.

Try these 4 steps that I used to put a muzzle on my own negative chatter:

  1. Be the observer. Instead of owning these thoughts as if they came from you, “I won’t win” “I can’t do it” — take on the role of observer, as if somebody else is saying them to you. This is called separating yourself from your ego. While the ego may have good intentions of keeping us safe, instead it keeps us living in fear and not taking chances or reaching our full potential. That voice is not who we really are!

  2. Notice how silly it can be. As I listened to my ego voice as an observer, I actually giggled out loud. “Where do you come up with this stuff? You aren’t very nice!,” I thought to myself. Then, I said, “thank you for trying to protect me, but I’ve got this.”

  3. Channel your Marianne Williamson. ”Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Remember this line always. Seriously, who are you not to be?! Print it out and put it somewhere you can always see it. You are not alone. We all go through this, but you can rise above. You are meant for greatness!

  4. Remember who you really are. For me, I had to remind myself of my deep passion for writing. Also, I am not doing this for me, but I feel a calling to share information to help others. I’m not doing myself or the world any justice by copping out. Same applies to you! The world needs what you have to offer. Don’t hold back!

Finally, after doing all of the above, I sat down with more focus and clarity then I have had in a long time. The words just flowed out of me. I reconnected with my purpose. I might not be good at a lot of things, but writing is definitely my calling..

And, of course, this does not mean I am a shoe-in for the Hay House prize by any means. But, winning or losing this contest is not what matters most. It’s about pushing through personal boundaries. And, at the end of next month, I will have a completed book proposal. That is a big deal for me, regardless of the outcome. I will continue to push towards my dreams, silencing my own negative chatter along the way.

What about you? Can you think of a time when you were talking yourself out of your own greatness? How did you get back on track? Have you ever missed out on an opportunity because of your own inner-critic? We can all learn from each other and would love to hear from you in the comments below!

For more from Dawn, check out www.dawngluskin.com and join her inspiring Facebook community

How to Deal When You’re Outside of Your Comfort Zone

In my latest vlog, I discuss “How to Deal When You’re Outside of Your Comfort Zone.” Whether you’re starting down a new path, trying on a new behavior or letting go of an old one, here are three tips to help ease the discomfort that comes with stepping outside of the box:



For more, check out my website, The Light Files, and follow me on Facebook or Twitter.


More from Laura Max:

Why I Choose the Solo Life, For Now

Why I’m a Feminist

Confessions of an Ex-Serial Dater


Thumbnail image: Daniele Nicolucci

3 Ways to Dispel the Fear That’s Holding You Back

Sky & IAlmost everyone holds onto some fear. There’s fear that can kick in adrenaline to help you speed out of difficult situations like a near-miss accident. Then there’s the needless, energy draining kind of fear that holds us back and drains resources. This kind of fear keeps us from being who we are. It brings us to constrict and tighten shoulders, jaws and muscles when what we yearn to do is expand to be who we’re meant to be. This kind of emotional fear feels a bit like wearing a barbed wire fence. Every new move we try hurts. So what happens? We stop moving and get stuck.

How can anyone climb out of a barbed wire fence? Ouch! Is it possible to cut away the fear of pain and become free to move? Imagine taking a pair of heavy-duty wire-cutters and snap, snap, snap! In a few quick, efficient moves cut away every last, tight wire to free yourself up. It’s time to let go and express those heartfelt intentions and live the expansive life.

People who live in fear put up walls around themselves. They create armor so thick that nothing can get out or in. It’s time to tear down walls you may be aware of and take a risk. Do something that you’ve always dreamed of doing. This might be jump off the high dive at the pool, join Toastmasters and face fears of public speaking or simply tell someone you love them.

  1. First, recognize the fears that inhibit. Take a moment and reflect. What would you really love to do that you don’t do out of fear that you’ll be ridiculed, fear of failure or something else?
  2. Next, take a moment and imagine what’s the worst that could happen? Imagine success instead. If the desired leap of faith is not life threatening or harmful to anyone, take the next step.
  3. Dare to do what you dream. But don’t stick with the mental stuff. The mind sometimes creates demons that hang around and scare us into paralysis.

Moving into the heart, imagine joining the belly dance class and performing in public, or speaking those words to the one you love. If your aim is something big, like starting a business or appearing on a TV show, then work your way up to the big moment through learning about the process. Go back to school. Learn to manage, do interviews and express yourself in ways that unleash your positive creative energy. Get out and grow. The extraordinary mystical poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (better known simply as Goethe) wrote, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Enjoy the leap of faith!

* * *

Debra Moffitt’s book, “Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life” will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in May 2011 (www.awakeintheworld.com).  Read more at www.debramoffitt.com Her essays and articles appear in publications around the world and focus on drawing attention to the spiritual in a mostly material-minded world.  She presents workshops in the U.S. and Europe.


Originally published January 2011

Break Free From Fear and Enter the Wholeness of Being

There is always a beginning...All of us live with fear. Whenever fear takes over, we’re caught in what I call the trance of fear. As we tense in anticipation of what may go wrong, our heart and mind contract. We forget that there are people who care about us, and about our own ability to feel spacious and openhearted. Trapped in the trance, we can experience life through the filter of fear, and when we do, the emotion becomes the core of our identity, constricting our capacity to live fully.

This trance usually begins in childhood, when we experience fear in relating to our significant others. Perhaps as an infant our crying late at night may have frustrated our exhausted mother. When we saw her frowning face and heard her shrill tone, suddenly we felt unsafe with the person we most counted on for safety. Our arms and fists tightened, our throat contracted, our heartbeat raced.

This physical reaction of fear in response to disapproval may have happened repeatedly through our early years. We might have tried out something new—putting on our clothes all by ourselves and gotten them backwards. We might have poured a cup of grape juice—but spilled it on the living room carpet. Each time our mother’s disapproving look and tone of frustration were directed at us, we felt the same chain reaction of fear in our body.

While the bodies of young children are usually relaxed and flexible, if experiences of fear are continuous over the years, chronic tightening happens. Our shoulders may become permanently knotted and raised, our head thrust forward, our back hunched, our chest sunken.

Rather than a temporary reaction to danger, we develop a permanent suit of armor. We become, as Chogyam Trungpa puts it, “a bundle of tense muscles defending our existence.” We often don’t even recognize this armor because it feels like such a familiar part of who we are. But we can see it in others. And when we are meditating, we can feel it in ourselves—the tightness, the areas where we feel nothing.

This trance of fear not only creates habitual contraction in our body. Our mind too becomes trapped in rigid patterns. The one-pointedness that served us in responding to real threats becomes obsession. Our mind, making associations with past experiences, produces endless stories reminding us of what bad things might happen and strategizing how to avoid them.

Through I-ing and My-ing, the self takes center stage in these stories: Something terrible is about to happen to me; I am powerless; I am alone; I need to do something to save myself. Our mind urgently seeks to control the situation by finding the cause of the problem, and we either point the finger at others or at ourselves.

Feelings and stories of unworthiness and shame are perhaps the most binding element in the trance of fear. When we believe something is wrong with us, we’re convinced that we’re somehow in danger. Our shame fuels ongoing fear, and our fear fuels more shame. The very fact that we feel fear seems to prove that we are broken or incapable. When we’re trapped in trance, being fearful and bad seem to define who we are. The anxiety in our body, the stories, the ways we make excuses, withdraw or lash out—these become to us the self that is most real.

Whenever we’re in this trance, the rest of the world fades into the background. Like the lens on a camera, our attention narrows to focus exclusively on the foreground of our fearful stories and our efforts to feel more secure.

The key to transforming this trance is by becoming aware of it—mindful of all our strategies, stories, physical reactions and bodily sensations—and allowing ourselves to be present to all of it without added constriction and judgment. If we can stay honestly and courageously awake to our fear, it can enable us to recognize and fully experience whatever is arising in the present moment, and keep us from falling into the trance.

Especially with intense or traumatic fear, a full mindful presence is often not advised or even possible as a first step. Rather, we need to take some time to cultivate inner resources of safety, strength and loving connection. In time, these inner strengths will allow us to stay present when fear arises, and meet the experience with interest and care.

For all of us, whether traumatized or not, there is deep conditioning to reflexively pull away from contacting the rawness of fear. Yet this avoidance is exactly what solidifies trance. As we cultivate our willingness, mindfulness, and compassion, we can learn to face and transform our fear. We discover that we can awaken from the trance of fear even in the midst of the most challenging circumstances.

Whenever we can relate to fear rather than from fear, our sense of who we are begins to shift and enlarge. Instead of constructing a tense and embattled self, we can reconnect with our naturally spacious awareness. Instead of being trapped in and defined by our experiences, we can recognize them as a changing stream of thoughts and feelings. In these moments we have awakened from trance. We are inhabiting a wholeness of being that is peaceful and free.

Enjoy this video on: Attend and Befriend-Healing the Fear Body

For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com

Top 10 Life Lessons Learned From My Dad

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 9.55.32 AMWhere I am concerned, my Dad’s heart is always on his sleeve. He is so grounded in truth, so deep in his thinking, and so moral about humanity that I wonder how I got so lucky! Of course he doesn’t see it that way, and wonders instead how he got so lucky to have me. We have been through a lot together over the years, and in his “lead by example” way I have learned so much from him that I have taken into my own adulthood. My favorites:

1. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You  never know what kind of day someone is having and what they’re  going through. Know that most bad moods, angry words, or scowling faces have nothing to do with you. Put yourself is someone else’s shoes when you can and try to see life from another’s perspective.

2. Don’t judge someone by what color their hair is, what their job is, how many tattoos they have, or who their parents are. Just because they don’t fit a socialized mold of “acceptable” doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the most caring humans you might ever meet.

3. Every dream and every goal is attainable no matter how far out of reach it may seem at the time. Break down your dream into small steps. Do three things a day that will lead you closer to your dream.

4. Religion is a personal decision and something to be used with respect and love. Don’t push your beliefs, or your lack of belief, on anyone else. We simultaneously walk our path alone and together, and each person has their own way to self-discovery and their own definition of “divine.”

5. Your past is not an excuse for your present. Not. An. Excuse.

6. Don’t hide who you are just to make the people around you more comfortable. You have every right to shine and to be yourself, because yourself is pretty fabulous!

7. Be dedicated to your body and your health. Life is so much easier when the body is whole.

8. “Disappointments, failures, weakness, making wrong decisions and mistakes are all part of life. Some of the most valuable life lessons come from these times,” taken verbatim from a letter sent to me in college from my Dad.

9. When your family needs you, really truly needs you, drop absolutely everything and go to them.

10. Anything worth doing has a certain amount of fear associated with it. Don’t be afraid of that fear and know that moving forward can be scary. Again, taken verbatim from a  letter my Dad gave me upon high school graduation…”As you head in a new direction in your life, don’t let fear keep you from moving ahead. Moving       forward can be scary because you are going into the unknown. Staying  where you are is usually safe and comfortable but you never get anywhere. You have so many qualities that will take you anywhere you want to go.”

Above all…always let your kids know you support them one thousand percent, no matter what they do, where they go or who they become. They need you and life is a whole lot easier to manage with that kind of love.

Snake in the Grass?

Not this snake. He wasn’t satisfied with grass. He wanted something more. So he came in. To my bedroom. And ruined a perfectly peaceful afternoon. My ritual of a good night sleep, gone too. And three days later, I’m still typing with my feet up.


I met him once about five years ago. He was playing in the garden under the big leaf glossy greens in my entry way. Now, while I love nature I am not afraid to share with you that I don’t love snakes. So as soon as I saw him, I ran outside for a boy, any boy, to help me rid my magical garden of a not so magical creature. But I didn’t act fast enough. The snake was so small, the garden so lush, that he was gone before Jose even made it in the garden. He will leave, said Jose. Just like he came in, he will go out. I wanted to believe him. And as the years passed with never any sign of mister snake, I did.
Until three days ago.
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Kundalini is a spiritual energy or life force that lives coiled like a snake at the base of our spines. It is said that when each of our seven chakras, or energy centers, are awakened this snake will rise up, threading itself through each of our open chakras, leading us to profound inner and outer experiences. These experiences that can last anywhere from a few moments to a few weeks or even months tend to be incredibly powerful, even life changing. Some say a ‘kundalini opening’ is a merging of individual consciousness with universal consciousness, creating in effect a divine union, a sacred opening. In my own experience, I can’t help but agree.
*          *          *
Reggie taught kundalini yoga in the States so when he visited my little Mexican town and found few interested in his unique style, he offered his newest fan a few private lessons—Me. We set up under the bougainvillea on the back side of my casita, specks of sunlight twinkling through the pink leaves, a gentle breeze blowing intermittently, puffs of pink falling like snow, landing around us, on top of us, dancing on our hands and faces. As he led me through the poses, the breathing, the chanting, I began to feel moved beyond words, lighter, more joy-filled than I had felt in years. And then, when I felt the most elated of all, I began to see.
I saw Reggie, my dear new acquaintance, as a boy. He was alone and crying on a doorstep. He was overweight. He was struggling. He was different and yet he was somehow the same. What am I seeing, I thought to myself. I barely know this man so where do these images come from? As they started to fade I calmed myself back to my previous state of peace and the images returned. I saw feelings. Felt emotions. Sensed pains. And yet none of the sensations were mine. Or were they? I started to tremble. I opened my eyes to reconnect with what I knew best.
Do you mind if I ask you a personal question? I asked Reggie after he, too, opened his eyes.
Please do, his face soft and kind, his eyes ladders to his soul.
Were you ever abandoned as child? Left alone on a doorstep? I fumbled with my words, my head not knowing what I was asking.
My father left me when I was seven. I lived in foster families most of my childhood. I sat on many doorsteps…alone. His eyes twinkled with wonder.
I gulped.
And did you ever, were you ever, a bit overweight?
I have always been troubled by my weight, a struggle that has been with me since I was a teenager. But how? How do you know these things, he asked.
But I couldn’t say. I just did. I felt them. Saw them. Experienced them as if they were my own life experiences, a taste of another’s lifetime squished into a few blissful moments of my own.
He smiled. Yes, did he smile. Kundalini, he said. Lets play again tomorrow.
 *          *          *


The snake that sits coiled at the base of our spines isn’t meant to sit dormant its whole life. Like the snake in my garden, it is not content to just sit in the grass. It wants to explore, to seek and discover, to sense and feel new and uncharted territories. Some, including myself, need to be reminded that such a desire isn’t scary. (Even if it happens to end up in your bedroom!) It is not worthy of a quiet terror, of sleepless nights or anxiety-riddled days. When the message comes, when the invitation arrives, we can cringe in fear or we can see it for the beauty that it really is, for the opening or transformation that it begs to represent. Wide-eyed wonder of life is a choice. Fear is a choice. Snake outside or inside, if I can see the magic, I know you can too. 

The Voice of Fear

“Life expands in direct proportion to one’s courage.” Anais Ninn.

Fear comes in many forms and the physical sensation is easy to recognize: Your legs starting to shake when standing at the edge of a cliff, or your hands getting sweaty and your mouth dry before delivering an important speech. There is also a more subtle form of fear that’s a voice in your head or a story, which is much harder to identify.

If your fear had a voice, what would it say?

Typically fear doesn’t just show up and say, I am scared. That would be easy. A lot of times it comes in the form of a story and often one that soothes you and makes you feel comfortable. For example it can be a voice that tries to convince you that moving forward and facing changes in your life is really not that important.

Whatever your biggest fear, most often it is also your biggest desire. In coaching, whenever someone tells me what it is they really don’t want (I hate getting up in front of people, I am not a good singer, I am a really quite person, etc.), my curiosity is peaked and I’ll dare them. Sure enough, when talking about the topic, more often than not it’s exactly what brings them alive and where their real desire is hidden.

Below I am listing a few ’sound bites’ of fear. Feel free to add your own. Once you know your fear’s voice, you can stop listening to it. Good luck and let me know your thoughts on the topic.

Fear in Business:

This has to be perfect before I can get it out.

I don’t like my job but it’s better than not having one.

I don’t need a whole lot of money.

I have to have a really good business plan before I can start my own venture.

Somebody else who is much smarter should do this.

Good clients are hard to find.

Money really is not that important to me.

I am not sure that I can do this.

I don’t deserve it.

I need a partner if I really want to be successful.

Who am I to have a big business?

My job is not that challenging anymore but I am happy about the regular paycheck.

Fear in Relationships:

It’s hard to find a good man / woman.

The only thing women are interested in is money.

The only thing men want is sex.

First I have to lose weight and then I can have a relationship.

I don’t think there is the right person out there for me.

If I ask for what I want in my relationship, it will fall apart.

It’s not worth the trouble.

Having kids is too much work.

If I end this relationship I may never find a good partner again.

I am not good looking enough to deserve a great man / woman.

Fear in Life:

I don’t have many friends and that’s OK.

I rather don’t stir up any trouble.

I can’t afford it.

If I don’t do what others expect of me I will end up all alone.

My life is nice and quiet.

I think my life will be much easier once I …

If I say what I really think nobody will like me.

Related Post:

What to Do When Fear Overwhelms You

Photo Source: A National Acrobat via Flickr under a Creative Commons License

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