The Places that Scare Us
I have been on a journey for the last year. I should say that I am always on a journey, but the last year has been a intentional one of spirituality, self discovery, compassion, and self care. I have been visiting my therapist on a very regular basis, setting limits with my time, and boundaries with others around me. I have had to confront the very anxiety that I would like to avoid. I have found that in this confrontation is the place of my freedom.
We all want to run from the things that scare us – anger, anxiety, negative events, others judgements about us, negative comments, sadness – anything that we think should not be the way it ought to be. We become angry, depressed, scared. We complain. We beg God to help us. We ask God why this is happening to us. We hope that if we just do the right things in the right ways we will be able to avoid the difficulties of life. Those places and difficulties scare us. Really we need to allow them to happen and stop fighting them.
I decided I had to push into those places. I could no longer avoid them. What did I find? I found powerful emotions, fear, worry, anxiety, sadness, grief and loss, happiness, joy, excitement, peace, calmness, transcedence, ultimately I learned not to be afraid of my “self.” This took time, support, courage, patience and compassion for myself. I had to learn to sit with my worry, allowing it to be there, setting it on the shelf and intentionally choosing not to give it any attention. This may have lasted for a brief few seconds when I started out. But as I practiced, stayed patient with myself, and allowed myself to continue to give my attention to the things I could actually impact, the time I could go without worry went from seconds to minutes to hours to days.
Soon I found a truth that I had heard about but never expereinced. When I told my therapist about my insight he laughed in recognition that this is happening to all of us. The truth I found was simple. When I stopped focusing on my worries, what I could not control, and focused on only what I could have power over in the moment I was in I noticed that the things I once worried about would be taken care of. Those things and events would just work themselves out, or I would have the skills, tools, and resources to solve them later. My statement to my therapist was “I have noticed that all the things I used to worry about work out and it has probably always happended that way I just never noticed it because I was giving so much attention to my worried thoughts.” He laughed in recognition.
I had to actually face the things that scare me to overcome them. I had to not worry and see what would really happen. That was scary. I had to stop running from it. I was supposed to plan and make sure that I could make life work like I thought is should. It was actually fear producing to not give my worried thoughts attention. It felt like I was going to be out of control, helpless, alone, and it would not get messed up. However, in pushing into it, allowing myself to notice my worry, but not give it any attention, I was able to overcome it. I was able to say “yes there is my worry, it always shows up, but it does not solve anything. I wonder what I can do right now that is going to be productive and helpful?” In the end I was ok. Ok meaning that it did not always workout the way I thought it should, but I was ok even though it didn’t. I learned to accept that rather than fight that. My world has changed.