Writing this scares me, so why do I do it?

Dinner Confidential: “Dealing with Fear”

This is a difficult post for me to write. I don’t think I’ll be able to do justice to the level of vulnerability that was shared during this Dinner, but I’ll try.

It’s easy to forget that we — and everyone we know — have deep fears inside of us. Fears that come and go, we ignore them, push them away or even disregard until they erupt like a volcano. I left the evening wondering how much fear is hidden inside the people around me.

During the introductions, we each described what scares us the most. The stories varied vastly, but they shared two common themes.

We fear what we can’t control
Things that require us to fully surrender to life — regardless of the outcome — eg. sickness, death, accidents, turbulence, how people perceive us.

We fear what we want
Things that require us to get out of our comfort zone and question the default option. Taking risks, moving, motherhood, traveling solo, writing (I am actually overcoming a fear as I write this).

Fear is particularly overwhelming because of the way it manifests in our bodies. We can be good at articulating and rationalizing what we are afraid of, but experiencing it can be paralyzing. The pressure in our chest, the weakness in our legs, the difficulty breathing, our hands sweeting, our necks and shoulders tensing…

The sensations are so uncomfortable that we try to push them away. But what happens if we allow ourselves to be present with our fear? To become curious about it? (Like we are when a friend is telling us about a new boy/girl she just met — we want to know all about it!).

As Pema Chodron said…

“A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.”

Think about the fears you’ve overcome already, and feel the pride and courage that allowed you to overcome them. Notice your confidence rising.

Postscript

Half of the women in the Dinner spoke of their experience with abuse of male power — and how those experiences have influenced how they experience fear.

How is our culture — one that has permitted abuse and encouraged female submission — informing what we believe about being a woman?

We all know that we are — and can be — strong, powerful and assertive. So why do many of us stop ourselves from speaking our minds? From embracing OUR power? Are we afraid of owning and stepping into our full womanhood? Who would we be if we weren’t afraid? What would we do differently? I’ll be thinking about that for a while….

Things to experiments with

  • Use you body to heal you mind. Because fear it’s such a visceral experience, practice breathing deeply/relaxing your body when experiencing fear-related sensations. Then notice what happens to your thoughts.
  • Share your deepest fear with someone, honest and vulnerably. See what opens up.
  • Create an “anonymous fear box/wall”at work where everyone can share their deepest fears. It might help build connection and a more compassionate culture.

Dinner Confidential is a 2-year project that aims to explore how women feel and how they approach life’s challenges through intimate monthly dinners. Check out dinnerconfidential.org to find out more!