Since I have come to believe that rising above fear will be my own personal ticket to salvation — and to just a life with meaning, I immediately seized on this post and for a 48 hour period actually worked through Jonas’ “steps” like a program. I’ll call it The Steps Program Process. Here’s how you do it.
Step One: Be Okay with fear
First you imagine you have a 13 yr old son (this will be particularly easy if you actually do.) Then you imagine he spills a salad bowl size cereal bowl full of chemically dyed sugar stuff filled with enough (organic — go figure) milk for the contents to float in the bowl onto (or into, as it were) the heavily padded shag carpet covering the solarium floor (just play along) on a sweltering summer day. Then know (just really know it) that he leaves the spill from sun up to down to shoot at screen people behind closed doors.
Then imagine — at some point after you freak the f*k out and your son apologizes and pinches the loose swingy part of your upper arm because he has always admired it — saying to your son, with downcast eyes, in a breathy partial whisper, “It’s okay.”
Then really really feel that Okay, and apply it to fear. Trust me — you will want to skip this painful cereal step. But you can’t. You wonder, why would you bother with this fraught visioning exercise only to arrive at an anemic Okay? It’s because you need to start small to authentically move through TSPP. If you jump right into a more robust Okay-with-fear you will be lying to yourself and your TSPP will be a sham. So go easy on yourself — allow yourself to be unenthusiastically, and perhaps a little disingenuously, okay with fear. If you can physically shrug one shoulder to fear, you are not holding on quite as tightly as, presumably, you were.
Step Two: Be Fine with fear
Now imagine (really feel into this) the solarium floor is covered in Pergo and the cereal had soaked up all the milk before the bowl was knocked off the arm of the chair — though every other element of this scenario stands — heat, shooting, son; all of it. You arrive home to an odor approaching fetid. You survey the scene. You scream, “WHAT IN SAM HILL?!” or “FUCKING HELL!” — or whatever — up the stairs toward what you know deep deep in your bones is the door to the den of the culprit. The door opens…
And there stands your disheveled, newly giantine very heart. In an instant you realize that you have not found chewed watermelon gum carefully affixed to the center of a living room wall in a long while and what if this is the very last time you find a whole bowl of cereal spilled and left to die on the floor? You know that these lapses in judgement are the hallmarks of childhood and youth and that someday, someday soon, you will no longer have the privilege of having and holding and caring for one or more of these creative little beasts who do horrid things and leave horrid messes and have taken up residence in your heart and the cereal situation just doesn’t matter. In fact, Who even cares? It’s Fine. In fact, you consider leaving the cereal on the floor…just a little longer.
So now you take that kind of Fine and make it about fear. You are settled. Yeah, you are concerned that the sour milk smell will not come out of the chair upholstery and that you have been a neglectful mother by bringing too little discipline to bear on the matter of mothering, but mostly you are fine with all of it. Feel fine. Add fear feelings and stir. You find you are able to breath normally and be both fearful and fine at the same time.
Step Three: Welcome fear
This is where you really have to bring your A game to TSPP. You will be tested (in the Biblical sense.) Even though the answer to the question, “Why (oh why) would I Welcome fear?” is a zen “Why not?” you may need to step into the realm of your intellect here. That’s how it went for me anyway. Think about what fear has to offer. One thing’s for certain — nothing…nothing lights a fire under me like fear in it’s most realized form: terror. Whether the need is to escape a physical threat, or put an end to a severe downward trajectory, even terror — especially terror — is your friend. Believe it. Let it move you. Be grateful for the opportunity to see yourself in a new way; you are brave. Welcome fear.
If these thoughts don’t help you actually appreciate fear, at least they should move you along, further down the scale of resistance.
Step Four: Invite fear
After welcoming fear for what it can do for you and for what it can teach you about yourself (your courage is VAST — you have no idea…or maybe you do), especially in the face of treachery or betrayal, you bravely strap yourself to the bow of a ship — in gale force winds if you must; you throw your arms open wide until your heart hurts and demand, “FEAR! SHATTER ME NOW!” You Invite fear because by learning to welcome it (Step 3) you have readied yourself, and you have learned something of the relief that lies on the other side of resistance — which just Hurts Too Damn Much. You want out of that game.
And finally; finally you will be spent. You will simply lack the strength to hold onto fear by resisting it, nor will you want to. You will Accept fear. Then… then you will claim the brass ring of The Steps Program Process: You will have risen above fear.
And alongside will be Mercy.
Your initiation will be complete.
Thank you, Jonas.