Fear impacts so many aspects of our lives. We often hold ourselves back from trying new things or taking on challenges because our essential fear is that we’ll fail. We fear that we’re not good enough, or that we won’t reach some unrealistic standard of perfection. Surprisingly, sometimes it is actually our fear of success that holds us back.
We’re afraid that if we achieve our goal, we will have set the “bar” too high and it will be unsustainable. Or we fear that we don’t deserve our success. Or perhaps we fear that if we actually succeed at what we’re trying to accomplish, that success won’t bring us the satisfaction or happiness that we are hoping for.
Fear also gets in the ways of creating meaningful and authentic connections and relationships. We’re afraid that if we show others who we really are – our truest selves with all of our imperfections and vulnerabilities – that we won’t be loved or accepted. So we often move forward only showing our “outside” veneer, while protecting our inner, most vulnerable self because we fear that we’ll be hurt or rejected.
All of these fears really “boil down” to the essential fear that we are not enough – good enough, smart enough, funny enough, capable enough, lovable enough. The list goes on and on. And the most amazing thing is that we all face these fears but we rarely share them because it is so scary to do so.
Naming the Essential Fear
However, if we are able to face the essential fear, name the fear, walk right into it, and perhaps even share it, doing so would drain much of the power from the fear and free us to be our truest selves and live the lives we wish to live.
Many aspects of my own life have changed drastically over the past few years and, with these changes, have come certain fears. Among them is fear of the unknown and fear of whether “I’m enough” to adapt to these changes and to embrace the challenges before me. In early December, I hosted my first Women’s Mindfulness Retreat.
Although as a psychotherapist and mindfulness educator and coach, I’ve taught a number of mindfulness classes and programs, the retreat was a significant undertaking. I had thoughtfully created a two-day program designed to be a nourishing and engaging weekend experience for the women attending, but as I waited for them to arrive, I began to be afraid that it wouldn’t “be enough”. I also wondered whether I would “be enough” to successfully facilitate the entire experience.
As I waited, I sat with myself, drawing attention to my breath and to the feelings of fear that were arising and decided to move toward them and name them. Yes, I was nervous, but I realized that it was okay to feel some degree of fear as I was about to embark on a new endeavor with an unknown outcome.
Walking into the Fear
And as I sat there, I realized that the only option was to walk into the fear and move forward in spite of it. I believed in the retreat program I had created and suddenly I knew that it (and I) would be enough as long as I moved into the experience with an open mind and heart, and with compassion and love.
I’m happy to report that the retreat experience was a meaningful one for everyone, including me! During the weekend, we even explored our fears and the impact they have on our lives. In addition, all of the women were able to spend time nourishing themselves, creating meaningful connections, and learning tools to manage stress and create balance. And I was reminded, once again, that fear does not have to hold you back if you’re willing to look it in the eye and welcome it in.