In part 2 of our fear workshop, we are going to learn more about the purpose of fear and how it works, especially around uncertainty, the unknown, and when it feels we've lost control. We are going to really get to know our fear, how it responds to our knee jerk reactions, and what it needs from us so we can work to create a relationship that is supportive.
I believe the more knowledge we have around anything, specifically today our fear, the more we understand it. When we understand something or someone, we can act out of compassion and with intention. Both parties benefit and more good comes from this cohesive relationship.
Today I will uncover the 4 characteristics of our fear- the good and the bad, and then ask you to really get to know your own fear and what it's asking of you. Our intention isn’t to just overcome our fears, but to make sense of them and find joy through following our truth.
The reason why fear must not sit in the driver's seat or even co-pilot is because if we let it, we might remain halted and frozen, unable to make any movement forward. Fear sits in the back because it has a really tough time seeing the difference between immediate danger or a simply a cause for caution,- a car driving the wrong way on the highway and a simple detour. If we let fear drive, we find ourselves halted in the middle of the road too scared to take action and move forward.
Fear's purpose is to signal us when there's a potential for harm, so it is crucial for our wellbeing. We live in a scary world, so we can't just ignore our fear. Rather, we listen to it, allow the emotion of that fear to be heard and move through us, then decipher if the iminante danger proclaimed by fear is something that can really truly harm us, or is an heightened reaction with no real cause for concern. In other words, separate the truth from the superficial, the consideration from the exageration.
This is the work I've been doing, taking a step back, laying out my fears, breaking them down to their roots, hearing out what each outcome would mean for myself and my family, and then deciphering the amount of energy appropriate for my fears based on their level of truth.
Much of my fears around this conception journey, while scary and valid, don’t' threaten my life or my joy. I have a beautiful life, with much to be grateful for. When I look to my truth I see that another child of our own isn't required for me to choose joy amongst my current blessings. If we are faced with a medical complication, I've come to know that my truth is faith and not fear. Lastly no time spent with fear worrying about an outcome that is out of my hands, has ever benefited me. My truth is that surrendering control, frees up the energy required to choose joy above it all.
I want to share with you what I've learned about fear, essentially how fear works and how we work with it. These 4 characteristics of fear are also what I am choosing to remind myself of when I realize that fear is taking hold.
It robs us of our joy
It's based on future outcomes that are either out of our control or superficial
It doesn't go away if ignored, it seeks acknowledgment
It can be expected --
Let's talk about this a bit more in detail and start with..
1. Fear robs us of our current joy. I was listening to Jay Shetty ( again) and he gave a really great example of how our focus on the negative, our fears, of the future can dampen our current experience and diminish our joy. He explained that when we are on vacation… staying at a beautiful, luxurious air B&B filled with all the things we don't normally have access to or the privledge of experiencing, if from the day we arrive we only think about how we will have to leave in a few days, our experience is focused on the negative and it takes away the enjoyment, the joy. But if we acknowledge that yes this stay is temporary, but pull our focus away from that final outcome- end of the vacation, and instead soak it up to it’s fullest, choose to be grateful for the experience, choose to be happy with where you are now…you maximize your joy.
Now let's reel it back and think of this in the scenarios of our journey in motherhood and fear around uncertainty..
When we dealing with fear around uncertainty , that means there is " lag time" and fear gets super real in that " lag time" ….that time between the event that propels it all and the time when we discover it's outcome or the effect. If you are trying to conceive its that time between ovulation and the start of your expected period. If you are hoping to adopt a baby, it's that time between the home visits and waiting for "the call" that you've been matched. If you are stressing over your baby's development, it’s the time between when google says or your girlfriend's kid walks and when your baby takes his first steps….
It's in this time, our fears come alive and morph into greater fears. We find ourselves praying for days to pass quickly, we are so focused on the end destination, and we miss out, we lose time, and we loose out on the joy.
I see joy as a choice made, to let go, to trust, to compromise, to sacrifice. In the choice between fear or joy, we are choosing to let go of our fears, surrender this reliance on happiness from an outcome, so we may experience joy. Life is forever changing, and circumstances of our joy can change on the daily. This lag time we spoke of can either be spent in fear, focused on the what if's, the sad, the doubt, the fear of the disappointment of the negative outcome, the elements that are out of our control…that of the future that has not happened.
Or on the now… the blessings, the beautiful distractions of life, moments curated that allow us to experience fufilment, wholeness, and love. Ultimately we must detach our joy from the outcome, recognize that we can find joy, we can choose joy with what we have here and now, that it's not dependent on reaching our destination. Detach from "then", attach yourself to now.
2. .Our fear is based on future outcomes that are either out of our control or superficial. By this I mean… we are afraid of what "could" or " may not" happen. It's not that there is never validity to our fears. Some fears drive us to make positive changes that can impact the future we are afraid could come, but much of what we fear is out of our hands. These fears lead us to create assumptions or guesses, that eventually become a belief. To this day, we've not come up with a time machine or reliable crystal balls that can grant us the truth of our future. So we stress, obsess and live in fear of something that may or may not be. We want to be in control of everything in our lives, but the truth is we aren't.
I've also found that most of my fears have been so built up that they take on a superficial reality, but when I strip them down and ask more clarifying questions to get to the root of the fear… I've found it was an unlikely outcome, one that wouldn't truly rob me of my joy or alter my life in a way that I couldn’t overcome, or that I was fearing something else entirely.
If we allow it, our fears will morph into nightmares… imaginary, fictional, elaborate nightmares . Honestly it's the curse of motherhood… we will forever imagine the worst circumstances and the longer we ponder on them...the more believable they become. Much of our fear is born from a story we've made to be true.
3. Fear doesn't go away if ignored, It wants to be acknowledged, to be heard, it wants consideration. Hopefully by now we can agree that the part fear plays in our being- our self.. Is crucial. Fear has a voice, because it's job is too look out for us. It can't help that it's unreasonable at times, to fear… danger is danger whether it be physical or mental.
Fear relies on us though, to chill it out, to offer comfort and peace. You, your truth, fear and joy all work together to reach a place of faith and calm. If we ignore our fear it becomes more panicked and thinks up even more reasons to be afraid. If we sit down with our fear, give it the time and attention it needs, it will take some of that weight off. Fear now knows that you can take the wheel, reroute as needed.
4. Fear can be expected. It kind of goes back to Jay Shetty's example given… we can expect that the vacation will end. We know that at the end of the vacation we will feel a bit bummed that we have to go home. This feeling can be anticipated, we've felt it before.
So if we expect that we'll feel this way, not only will we cherish the blissful time even more, but we will recognize it for what it is, just an end to a great vacation, not an end to your joy.
I hope this scenario doesn't mess up your thinking… to bring it back to our topic at hand..
The type of fear we are working through together is that fear around uncertainly, lack of control.. The unknown ( unlike our vacation we know will end). While I can't always predict the changes that are life, I can predict that when life puts me in a space that requires faith, fear and anxiety are likely to chime in. The more we practice self awareness, the more patterns and triggers we will notice, exposing our knee jerk reactions to fear.
Understanding our fears and expecting them to arise allows us to prepare-- we are able to recognize, discern, and take the appropriate action. It doesn’t mean that our fears will go away, it just means you will spend less time sitting in them. We can remember that we've been in this place before, that we've made it through the more intense moments of this particular fear, that while our fear is looking out for us, we don't need the message on repeat and will take the appropriate action based on what we know is our truth.
And the more you get to know your truth and live it, the more joy you experience.
Ok, so now we have a face to our fear. We understand how it operates, it's weaknesses, what it needs from US, that it's not meant to sabotage, but to dig deep, to become more acquainted with ourselves and our truth.
This is what I want you to ponder on and take with you for your homework.
Your mission is to 1. Break down your fear, understand it's origin, discern what it's asking of you And 2: Get to know it, decide if it warrants positive actions or if it requires your surrender and faith
Start by breaking down your fear- your'e creating something that looks a bit like a flow chart. Write down this big fear we identified in part one of the workshop, strip it down.
Ask yourself these questions that further dissect this fear, underlying fears, and fear origins. What am I actually afraid of? Where do I recognize this fear from before? What is the outcome I fear will impact my life?
Ok, so now we have a face to our fear. We understand how it operates, it's weaknesses, what it needs from US, that it's not meant to sabotage, but to dig deep, to become more acquainted with ourselves and our truth.an find joy, we can choose joy with what we have here and now, that it's not dependent on reaching our destination. Detach from "then", attach yourself to now. really have access to or the privilege of experiencing, if from the day we arrive we only think about how we will have to leave in a few days, our experience is focused on the negative and it takes away the enjoyment, the joy. But if we acknowledge that yes this stay is temporary, but pull our focus away from that final outcome- end of the vacation, and instead soak it up to it’s fullest, choose to be grateful for the experience, choose to be happy with where you are now…you maximize your joy.
I’m afraid I won’t be able to have another child of our own.
That Miles was the exception
That there is something medically we are missing - something that’s wrong with me
That Miles won’t be a big brother
That Cameron will be disappointed, feel resentful down the road
That I won’t be able to experience a natural vaginal birth - labor
That I won’t experience pregnancy again
That we might not ever know why
Afraid of more miscarriages, going through it all over and over
Afraid of the end of the road… infertility
Then this is what I uncovered.
The big underlying fear I found here was that we might be looking at long fertility battle, this is the tough on your body, tough on your heart and mind route I just don’t want and my fear is that our journey is going to lead us here… and it will come down to how bad I want another baby of our blood— enough to go through this, to rack up thousands of dollars In medical bills? Or do we look to other options- like adoption?
2. Then spend some time here with each of these fears and asked these questions to find your truth:
Is it imaginary, superficial, or cause for concern and immediate action ? Is he outcome I fear something I really believe in? Can I do anything to alter the outcome? Could I overcome this outcome? How does it affect my life and my access to joy right now? What do I value most?
I went back down my flow chart and found my truth:
That I’ve been through enough to prove that I can handle what comes, that God has it and I have an immense amount of love and support behind me.
That if we want another child, we can explore other options. It’s a choice we have the ability to make.
That more miscarriages will hurt, but I’ve made it through and could do it again, knowing what I know now.
That Cameron loves me and it’s silly to think he’d be resentful at something of the sort.
That I can live without knowing, choose faith and joy and be patient for what’s meant to come.
I realized that I Miles and cameron, this family is all I have ever wanted. As much as I want another baby of our own, Mile's experience, his pregnancy, this creation of cameron and I, his birth was the one thing I’ve known I wanted my whole life and I got it. I can choose to be thankful for that and that it's enough… and that I have an incredible opportuntiy to live out joy. This is my truth.
Do this exercise, ask these questions.
Let them be the guiding light to your truth.
As I said in part one, this could take time. It takes thought, quiet, time to get honest and aware, as moms that time has to be made, so take it when you can and sit with it as long as it takes. The moment you are striving for is … that moment of aha - it all makes sense moments, and then that comfort in knowing you are the most beautiful moments truly are in the now, and those can't don't wait. :)