Saturday, June 12, 2010


Tonight I've become a 21.5.800 member. What's that you ask? Well, Bindu Wiles has created an online space called 21.5.800. The idea behind it is that for the next 21 days we commit to doing yoga on 5 days each week and write 800 words per day. What a great idea! The writing can be anything from a letter, to an essay, a blog post, anything you like. What's great is that Bindu offers a topic for us to focus on each day on her website, so if you feel stuck for ideas (as I sometimes do), you can look to her for inspiration. She even prompts you with questions which is great. (I found out about this group via the ever-amazing Susannah Conway btw. She never ceases to amaze me with all the phenomenal women she is connected to).

Today is actually day 4 of the program (I'm a late starter) so I will attempt to catch up on the earlier topics as I go along. The topic for day 4 is "FEAR".

The role of fear in my life is something that I have uncovered a lot about in recent years. I can completely and utterly see that fear has governed much of my decision making and life choices and, in turn, has really inhibited my ability to live life to the full. I'm not entirely sure how I came to be that way, although I'm fairly sure it was a behaviour that I observed growing up. It is something many of us become so conditioned to that we don't even realise we do it and we are actually blind to any other way of being.

As Bindu Wiles says, our feelings about a situation can often feel so intense that we think they might kill us. So in order to avoid these scary feelings or fear, we act out in ways that we think will make us feel better. We might threaten people, tell them how and when to do things, pull a power trip on someone, etc etc. This may make us feel better for a short while but in the end it never truly works. In acting this way we are not dealing with our fears but are in fact just projecting them onto someone else and then they feel afraid. And the cycle continues.....

What we ultimately need to do is to get to the heart of the fear and confront what it is trying to teach us. Fear is an emotion that does not just come from nowhere. It is a signal to us that something isn't right, or that we need to take care of ourselves in a certain situation. When you look at it from this perspective, fear is not something we should avoid but rather something we should confront and deal with.

I would say that the single greatest fear that I have carried around with me for most of my life is the fear of failure. I have always been super conscious of failing at something. The effect of this has been that I always look for the 'safest' option or weigh everything up to the nth degree before making a decision. Sure, in some areas of life this has been the smartest approach. But at the same time it has prevented me from stretching myself and growing as much as I could, and from simply enjoying myself. The pressure that you place on yourself when trying to prevent failure is enormous and really is a burden.

Anyway, lucky for me I have been able to confront this and work on changing my way of thinking. As I have mentioned before, my experience with post natal depression was the catalyst for this change in thinking. I realised that I didn't want to look back on my life and regret playing it safe all the time. I needed to start following my heart as much as my head so that I could feel as though I was truly 'living' my life. So instead of asking myself 'what is my safest option?' in certain situations, I would ask myself 'What would I attempt to do if I knew I couldn't fail?'. This had such a positive impact on my life and its one of the single greatest changes I have made in the way that I live my life. I asked myself this question before changing my career (a move which I have never had second thoughts about) and ended up working for a company whose manifesto reads "Do one thing a day that scares you". Too cool.

The power behind confronting our fears and dealing with them is the fact that we step outside our comfort zones. We find out what we are truly capable of and this is how we achieve growth and come to truly know ourselves. Confronting our fears actually makes them smaller or eliminates them altogether. And it isn't about whether we succeed or fail in whatever we attempt. It is about what we do with that success or failure that matters and either way we learn valuable lessons.

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