Growing up, I had a lot of trouble going to sleep at night. For the most part, I was an adventurous kid, outgoing and eager to experience the world. But at night, I turned into a timid and fearful victim-of my own imagination.
From the classic monster under the bed to a bizarre fear of the Oregon Trail computer game (a snake bite killed my fictional sister), I struggled, to say the least. I remember distinctly trying to get out of reading The Diary of Anne Frank because the idea of that poor girl hiding from the Nazis was just too awful to endure. I even had a hysterical love/hate relationship with the movie Titanic because Leo was so darn cute and Celine Dion sings the theme song, but the whole ship-sinking, iceberg-right-ahead scenario gave me straight up nightmares.
That was me as a child – fearless by day, terrified by night.
As I grew up, I naturally grew out of the deeply real concern I was destined to become Anne Frank on a sinking ship with a snake bite. But if I had to identify the one thing that most separates me from living a wholehearted life today, it is that same F word – Fear.
And this fear doesn’t just plague me at night, but rather follows me around every day, so stealthily I am often oblivious to its presence. But I am not oblivious to its consequences – those are impossible to ignore. The fear of failure, getting fat, going broke, experiencing loss, illness or tragedy sit on my heart beating it up instead of letting it beat freely.
Since discovering the Universe, I have awakened to the fact the F word is holding me back, stealing my joy. I spend so much energy being afraid of unhappiness, micro-managing my life. The result? I create unhappiness in that very moment – a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, how do I begin turning it around? I am a firm believer in balance and baby steps. For me, writing here is a start – certainly challenging the fear of failure (a double F word!). And every day I practice reframing my approach to spending money (I am abundant), eating a cookie (everything I put in my body serves me in exactly the way I need), and even going to the movies in the wake of the recent shootings (I am at the right place at the right time).
It takes being mindful and intentional. Bottom line – it takes practice. Which is what this column is all about – embracing that positivity is not just something you order up on a menu, but rather nurture daily, like a seed in the ground.
That said, it may not be a full-on shimmy but I am slowly starting to shake the F-word from my heart. And you know what? It feels F’in good.
What fears have been keeping you from living a wholehearted life? How can you reframe those fears to empower instead of stunt your growth? Better yet, what would it look like if that fear didn’t exist?
Let’s find out, together!