It takes a lot of courage to stop hiding.
To see an opportunity or feel a desire that stirs insecurity or vulnerability… and say YES anyhow because you know it will help you become a less fear-bound and more open human.
Like last week when I was at a friend’s and saw an opportunity to face my fear of riding a motorcycle. So I suggested that instead of the car we could have taken to lunch, which was 15 curvy country road minutes away, that we take the motorcycle.
Or when I took a performance singing class where you sing in front of 40-ish people and then they critique you.
Or when I quit my job without a plan, asked for guidance on what to do, and was told to teach people a skill that still felt new to me.
YOU COULD ALWAYS SAY NO… BUT YOU’LL FEEL SO MUCH MORE ALIVE IF YOU SAY YES
There is an undeniable and deeply empowering self-confidence you can only get from moving through your fears.
You know it, yes? It feels like you survived something only… now if you had to do it again, which you probably will, this time you could do it with greater ease.
This feeling is the transformation of off-limits parts of life into parts you can now inhabit and call your own. This sort of breakthrough can happen in any part of your life – love, creativity, business, self-care, friendship, you name it – but the result is the same: trapped or restricted energy within you opens and suddenly you feel bolder, more confident, and much more vitally alive.
Every time I’ve said yes to something confronting I knew would help me become a more open person, I was so grateful afterwards. Like I was gaining greater access to my life and life-force. Like my wings could fly a little wider, a little freer.
Sometimes it’s been big moves like traveling to a foreign country alone when I barely spoke the language. Or pursuing my interest in modeling and going to NYC to meet agents there. Or the time I said yes to love after my first big heartbreak when I knew how much the loss of love could hurt.
But just as powerful are all the little every day opportunities like making eye contact and/or smiling at a stranger instead of looking away. Following an impulse to write, paint, sing, dance, post on social media, or create in any way rather than censoring yourself. Reaching out to someone instead of waiting for them to contact you.
At the end of the day, when you lie in bed, you know when you lived and when you just went through the motions of the day. And you know, without doubt, that no matter how seductive the lure of playing it safe can be, there is no substitute for the true energy upgrade that happens when you say yes to living your life.
LIVING AT YOUR EDGE – A MINDFUL, ALIVENESS PRACTICE
What’s fascinating to me is that even with all the experiential proof we have of how elevating, opening, freeing, and confidence boosting it is to expand beyond our fears of what’s safe to live in life… we still get scared and want to run away each time a new, yet-to-be-faced thing comes up on our screen.
Our survival programming to hide and protect ourselves is so strong.
We’re taught that being vulnerable makes you weak and susceptible to being dominated by others and that making mistakes, loosing face, and failing are blunders only a few short steps from death. (All of this is untrue, but the message was handed down regardless.) We’re shown that if you hide, if you throw up walls, if you act like you don’t care, if you busy yourself to the point that you don’t have space to let the new in, if you dissociate from your emotions and desires, if you act like a good girl or boy – you’ll be safe. Yes, your life may feel a little tight, a bit flat, a smidgen routine. But it’s a known world you can “operate well” in so you can take comfort in the fact that at least you’re safe.
But that’s hardly living, now is it?
What if, like a mindfulness practice, you take on noticing what scares you, what makes you a tad uncomfortable, and practice moving towards it?
Not in a throw yourself off a cliff all the time and completely rattle your nervous systems sort of way. But in a regular noticing where a desire or opportunity is inviting you to open and making it a practice to say yes.
What I hypothesize will happen, because it has happened to me – one of the more cautious and less naturally vulnerable people – is that the more you do this, the safer and easier of a place the world will be for you to live in.
Things that used to trigger your defense mechanisms will transform into things you feel either neutral towards or even attracted to. Tension you’ve carried throughout your body from years of feeling scared and like you have to constantly protect yourself will start to relax. And energy that had been trapped and tangled up in fear, armoring, and false beliefs will open giving you greater access to your life force, making you feel much more vibrant, confident, and freed up.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Now go take a step towards something that scares you. Eek!!