Don’t Be Scared of Fear
Tao of Yummi, Sutra 7
Bottom line: fear distracts us, and when that happens we attach and follow something we don’t want to follow, always to our own detriment. We get distracted by fear like it’s a real person standing in front of us, waiving their arms and shouting. When you’re focused on someone standing in front of you waiving and shouting, how are you going to see anything else, let alone live into purpose, be mindful in the moment, and open to Serendipity?
This week’s Yummi isn’t simply about friends or enemies — its’ roots run a lot deeper.
There is no percentage for us in Self-isolation. We all play an essential role together in the unfolding of the Universe. Biologically speaking, your skin doesn’t act as a barrier between your organs and the external world…rather it’s a conduit where the world flows through you. In fact, every cell or piece of matter that forms our bodies is exchanged with the rest of existence every 7–10 years, to the point where our bodies are made of completely different material. We are literally part of the flow of the Universe unfolding over time.
Sun Tzu may be addressing ‘enemy’ forces within the context of “The Art of War” but we can also think about his insight in light of the balancing forces which flow into and define each other as part of the universal symbol of balance and holism: the Yin Yang.
Life requires a lot of energy. We can get so exhausted by our daily interactions that it can seem easier to remain isolated from others — especially those we haven’t yet met or don’t know. This is another reason why it’s important to have faith in the Universe unfolding and realize that Serendipity exists in every current moment and all those flowing through the current moment. Sometimes the ones we haven’t yet met can be the source of the unexpected and delightful, if only we allow ourSelves to flow with them.
We can embrace our fear or react to it as if it’s a signal. If we respond to fear as a signal we retain our freedom and can transform fear in favor of ourSelves, remain mindful in the moment and open to Serendipity.
We can also react to fear as if it has the power to control us — although we are the ones controlling ourSelves and it is always our choice. If we choose to let fear be in control, we are distracted, feel pain, and have allowed ourSelves to be kicked out of the moment. If we retain our freedom, fear can exist but we don’t have to be afraid.
There are ways to regard fear without being in servitude to it. In the Yin Yang, a visual map of holism, and the Universe, both dark and light flow into and are a part of each other. How can we understand courage without knowing fear? We’ve talked about the essential practice of non-attachment, where we neither attach to expectations that draw us out of the moment, or detach from and ignore the current moment. The same holds true for keeping authentic feelings at arms length. Fear is a stimul-Us, but not one and the same as Us! We feel it, can acknowledge it, and then either choose to engage and let it control us, or see it as a signal and use it to our advantage.
Fear comes in many forms — and much of what we fear can be transformed from that which shuts us down and causes blind flight- to that which empowers our ability to take action with more skill and creativity, and enables us to fly.
Fear can hinder thought if we so choose. We can also use it as a signal and see what we may have missed; act with greater effectiveness and precision — and even share and collaborate with others more deeply. If we retain our freedom from fear, the subject of the fear itself can be there to learn from and overcome. Then, we’ve transformed it into untapped potential, or in the case of today’s Yummi, an extra ‘edge’.
So many people have felt the fear of failure. When you try to accomplish something, the dark side of accomplishment, failure, can also occur. The fact that failure is possible means that what you’re attempting hasn’t been done yet…and this means that your achievement has value and is needed by others. If you live into purpose, fear exists, but you can transform it. Simply acknowledging a fear of failure to others can be valuable — but this must be done in a way that is not complaining or fearful, but rather open and empowered. First, since most people feel it, we establish greater connection with others, which is a worthwhile end in and of itself. Next, defining fear inspires me to strive harder to overcome it. One Serendipity is that overcoming it defines even greater success when we do.
Surfers rely on the signal they get to paddle hard and commit to the wave. Surfers also know that the same signal means fear to non-surfers who then hesitate and ‘go over the falls’ out of control. Sometimes the source of our fear can be transformed into an essential point of balance.
If we see ourSelves as we truly are: a part of the Universe unfolding as it should; that faith can give us the ability to face fear as a signal as opposed to an enemy.
We can face fear as a signal like this: (1) the signal comes in; (2) we acknowledge the signal and the emotion it triggers; (3) we make the decision not to engage with the emotional signal to the point that it draws us out of mindfulness in the moment; and (4) look for the meaning in the signal and learn from it as opposed to running from it.
Of course, facing fear as a signal take practice. Practice transformation of fear so that you don’t attach to it. Practice non-attachment so that you can remain mindful in the moment. Remain mindful in the moment and open to Serendipity. This is where the unexpected and delightful live…like riding a wave.
We can all look forward to the delightful and unexpected. We consciously and actively seek the joyful…and yet, when we’re faced with the joyous, we still choose to attach to fear and distraction much of the time. Does this found familiar? It’s the end of a workday. I’m home with my wife and two young sons. I love these people more than anything. My 3-year-old wants to play with his daddy. My 7-year-old wants to play with his daddy. My wife has something I know will be interesting that she wants to discuss. And yet, I’m distracted. I’ve got to-do lists, texts and emails from work on the brain. Instead of accepting the gift of joy and love in the moment, and possibly generating more joy, I’ve attached to my fear of making a mistake, missing an opportunity, taking too long to get back to a client or colleague, and am distracted, and allow myself to be escorted out of the moment by the least constructive dimension of fear.
Instead, try this. Live into purpose. Our purpose in a moment akin to the above is to be with those we love…100%. This is just as important, if not more important, than our purpose and responsibility at work…and likely even more joyous! If we live into purpose we can have confidence and integrity. With that confidence and integrity, we can be mindful in the moment. If we’re mindful in the moment, we’re open to the unexpected and delightful that has the power to sustain our purpose and mindfulness. Serendipity.
Courageous people are purposeful people and know that bravery doesn’t exist without fear. There is no shame in feeling fear. However, instead of running from it, and allowing ourselves to become distracted from purpose, pulled out of the moment and closed to the delightful and unexpected — we can face our fear and transform it.
Purpose and the consistent potential for success can be clear in every moment if we’re mindful, and it evolves with the infusion of Serendipity. This morning, my wife’s purpose when I kissed her before we got the boys up was to help me see it’s all okay…she was 100% focused on that. It was beautiful and she was powerful. As long as we have a sense of purpose, our own integrity and are mindful of the moment, we can live into a constantly evolving course of purpose that feeds into a larger fancier purpose we may articulate or never articulate, but still fulfill.
I see people in personal and professional environments living into purpose all the time — helping each other to make sense of things, get through things emotionally, develop habits that will help them succeed and feel connected to larger meaning…you don’t have to design a beautiful purpose statement or work at a social impact firm to be purposeful…although it is an awesome feeling to see precisely how your effort is aligned with a collective vision of impact.
Let me put it like this…whether you have a purpose statement or an answer to “why do I exist” or not…when you’re here to do something, help someone, help yourSelf, show love…etc…you’re living into purpose. It’s less complicated than you may think!
Deep respect and gratitude this week to Auntie Brennie Smith for the inspiration that springs from her love and insight — and the insight that ‘purpose’ can be intimidating for people, as well as the inspiration to work on removing that intimidation factor.