COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, SXSW cancelled, stock market volatility, global temperatures rising, skyrocketing medical costs ... I don’t know about you, but I am finding it is becoming much easier to be anxious of not only the long-term future, but even more so, what may happen tomorrow or next week.
We all have fears, anxieties, and worries. Some fear is healthy. Our fight or flight response is much needed and serves us well, but what about the role fear plays on a more personal, everyday level such as the fears pertaining to our respective ego, the fears we might have adopted from our parents, family, and peers — fear of appearing foolish or ignorant, fear of failure, fear of being rejected, fear of intimacy, fear of loneliness, fear of change?
Lifelong diarist and writer Anais Nin said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
One facet of courage is the ability to confront and overcome one’s fears. With that in mind, Nin’s quote could just as easily be, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s fear.”
As one who frequently analyzes my life spiritually and philosophically, for me, the Nin quote begs big existential questions.
What role is fear playing in my life? Is fear preventing me from pursuing my goals and dreams? Is fear preventing me from living my life more fully? Are my fears actually causing my life to shrink? I feel these are important questions to ask oneself.
I believe we are here to experience life fully, not passively, but actively with presence. It does not matter what you are doing — cleaning dishes, vacuuming, folding laundry —seemingly mundane chores can bring unexpected peacefulness and joy if you simply make the effort to be mindful.
With mindfulness, you become an active participant in your life, not a passive observer lost in thoughts of what occurred yesterday or daydreaming of what might happen tomorrow, but experiencing life in the Here and Now — the only moment that truly exists.
Yet, it is possible to be mindful and remain in the shallow end of the pool, reluctant to venture into deeper water, afraid to take risks, thus allowing fear to shrink our life by making safe, easy choices.
I believe we are truly here to live miraculous lives, to pursue and achieve our goals and dreams, to venture into the deep end of the pool.
The deep end can be terrifying — our feet are not touching the bottom, only our head is above water, and we are unable to see what’s below. Yet, we will never know what we are truly capable of achieving if we never try. As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
When I reflect on certain fears I have overcome in my life, in many instances all I needed was specialized knowledge and/or specific tools and a strong desire to implement them. Sometimes, all I needed was faith, an unwavering knowing that when connected to Spirit (God), I truly have nothing to fear.
Is fear preventing you from pursuing your goals and dreams, from living your life more fully? Big questions, important questions.
Sometimes when I ask those questions, I do not like the answer. In certain aspects of my life, I am still living in the shallow end of the pool.
But, I am making efforts, slowly, day by day, to gain the knowledge and tools needed to conquer that fear, and inch ever closer to achieving my goals and dreams — to venture into deeper water. Deep water is the unknown and the unknown can be scary, but it is also where a lot of excitement lives.
We all have fears; we are human. Yet, I know every single one of us is also capable of gaining the courage to face our fears, to venture into deeper water and live life fully. For if we allow fear to shrink our life and we never attempt to achieve our goals and dreams, we will forever wonder what could have been.
Spiritual teacher and life coach Sullins Stuart is author of “Living in Conscious Harmony” and “Imagine Belieive Become.” He blogs at sullinsstuart.com.