By Tanya Tiger
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
I suppose, in looking back at my youth, I could have been considered a brave child.
I always seemed to be leading a pack of other wild children through the woods, climbing trees, picking up snakes and bugs and daring to go deeper into the wood than most. I would jump father and higher, up and over gullies and streams. I challenged bigger kids and I stood up to the boys.
I was always up for a challenge and fear rarely, if ever, entered my mind. Maybe this made me brave or, maybe it just made me a bit stupid—who knows?
I suppose it would depend on whom you asked.
As I got older, fear crept in. My insecurities grew. I lost that daring young soul who would laugh at challenges that could lead to ridicule or injury. I started to climb inside myself. I got lost in adventures in my mind rather than in real life.
I wrote about my hopes and desires rather than pursue them. I became a paper doll and allowed others to dress me physically, mentally and emotionally. I seemed to completely disconnect from that brave, strong heart, and instead became full of trepidation.
Fear rented not just a room in my mind but it took over my whole mind.
Every decision became fraught with danger. I could never stop the whirling doubts that swirled like a tornado in my brain. What if I failed? What if they laugh at me? What if I’m not good enough? What if I get hurt? And so, in my analysis paralysis, I remained frozen with fear—unable to break free and reach for my heart’s desires.
I think back to the girl I was at that time. Gently I reach to her, hold her, and whisper that it’s all going to be okay. Somehow that reassurance creeps into my current being and relaxes some of the tension that I’ve been carrying for all of these years.
While it is true that we can’t go back to our pasts and fix anything, I do believe we can heal those parts of us that were wounded back then by acknowledging the pain, fear, uncertainty and sadness that we experienced.
We can extend a hand to our younger selves and let them know that it’s okay; none of it was their fault, they were just learning and growing. We can tell them that we understand how powerless they felt back then and that now—as adults—we can heal those wounds together.
Forward motion cannot occur if we remained anchored in the past. Rather than taking ourselves back there I think we’re better served bringing our wounded past selves to our current state where we have, hopefully, gained more knowledge and tools for the healing process.
I’m in the process of doing this for myself. At the end of July (2015) I will be stepping way outside of my comfort zone. I will be embarking on a journey that will be full of experiences I have never had.
I will invite fear to sit with me.
I will thank it for its time and then ask it to sit quietly or leave. I will explain to fear that, while I appreciate the positive aspects it offers—alerting me to danger, helping me to think twice before acting and keeping vigilant to people who may pose a threat—I no longer welcome its incisive whispering of all the ways that me taking a chance might blow up in my face.
I am fully aware of all the things that could go wrong and I no longer care to allow that to stop me from seeing just how far I can go in this lifetime.
I am here, in this body, manifested in this lifetime, to be something great—to do something amazing—and to push the limits of what I can do and be. Fear is no longer in the driver’s seat. Fear has been relegated to passenger and only if it behaves itself.
I am about to challenge myself, my beliefs and all the things that I have ever told myself (or have been told by others) about who I can be and what I can do. I have been placed in a box for far too long. As of this moment there is no box, there is no cage and there are no ties that bind.
I am finally free and I welcome everything life has to offer.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~ Nelson Mandela
Editor: Dana Gornall