As you’ve probably read or heard, my next Writing From the Heart course is on the topic of fear. It’s called “Bust Out of Your Fear Box!”. And yes, it’s pushing some pretty strong fear buttons in me. I get to meet nearly every one of my fears every single day. Which is exactly why I’m doing it. I’m done with letting my fears hold me back. I accept that there is nothing I can control or cling to because life is fluid. I’m just trying to go with it.
In my years of healing journal writing and now helping people heal themselves, I’ve learned there are 7 things about writing through fear and pain that I’d like to share with you.
EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER DONE THIS WORK IS AFRAID TO START
Everyone who has ever taken my online classes or an in-person workshops feels anxious about what they’re about to do.
We all fear the unknown. When we can’t see the path ahead of us to know that we are safe, fear sounds the alarm bells. It wants us to turn back. Even the small traumas we’ve experienced have been bent out of shape and magnified by Fear to hold us back. When I started serious healing journaling over 5 years ago, I was so afraid I was going to unearth something dark and scary and sinister and that I wouldn’t be able to handle what I found. It turns out, Fear had magnified my traumas into mountains. But, one by one, I shrank them down to life size.
When we’re ready to bust out of our fear box, we don’t listen to Fear because… well because #2.
YOU HAVE TO FEEL IN YOUR GUT THAT THE PAIN OF NOT DOING IT IS WORSE THAN THE PAIN OF DOING IT
I remember one “4am freakout” morning, I awoke and the voice of Fear immediately started in on me. After letting her go on in my head for a half-hour or so, I got up, wrapped myself in a blanket, sat on my dream chaise, and opened my journal.
I got nowhere. Fear was so strong, I couldn’t get still enough to hear the loving wisdom of my heart. Instead of giving up, or being out of sorts all day, I followed Fear and gently asked her the Go Deeper Question, “What do I mean by…?” whenever I hit a fear pocket. Then I asked, “What is the worst thing that could happen?”, and followed her answer, to which I asked “And how would that make you feel?”
My fear that day, and most anytime Fear visits, was about following the path of the healer to help people who are ready to journal their way back to life. I heard (and still do), “Who do I think I am?” “What if people find out I’m a big fat faker?”, and “What if no one signs up?”.
Eventually, when I had poured my fears out onto the page, what came out was, “If I don’t do this, I will feel worse than if I try and fail.”
YOUR INNER CRITIC WILL COME BARRELING OUT IN FULL OFFENSIVE MODE
Anytime we want to make a change in our life, Fear (disguised as our inner critic) comes at us with both barrels blazing. It’s the nature of Fear: always on high alert, always thinking whatever we dream of doing is somehow life threatening.
But that’s exactly the reason that we have to keep moving forward. Think of Fear as an indicator that it’s time to step out of our comfort zone. It’s okay to rest where you are for a short time, but if we’’re not doing something that scares us a little every day, she’s always going to win. So meet her, talk her to her gently, but firmly, tell her you’re going to do it anyway, so she’d best lower her guns. And don’t forget to thank her for her concern (she likes to feel appreciated).
YOU MUST BE WILLING TO WRITE ABOUT ALL THE EMOTIONS YOU DON’T WANT TO FEEL
The thing about Fear is, in the end, what she really wants to do is protect us from feeling. She’d rather have us wrapped in bubble wrap, where we’re safe. So many of us have been taught that feelings are not safe. I beg to differ. In and of themselves, feelings are not dangerous. If they are negative or unhappy feelings, they’re simply signals that we need to look at what’s going on and ask ourselves:
- What do I mean by…?
- What’s the worst thing that could happen?
- How does that make me feel?
The next time I follow this enquiry I will also pepper her with these questions. I want to learn to talk to myself in the kindest, most gentle way — in the way I would talk to a beloved child:
• Is it true? • Is it kind? • Is it necessary? •Is it helpful?
On that fateful “4am freakout” morning, I wrote for what seemed like forever, going deeper and deeper. When I got to my answer, “If I don’t do this, I will feel worse than if I try and fail” I felt I had finally reached the core. I felt at peace, because I finally had my answer.
It doesn’t happen everytime I pick up the pen to write, but when I am “willing to be split open,” as Natalie Goldberg asks of me, I find emptiness when the pen runs out of words to write.
What I want you to know most about this fear you are feeling is that you are not alone. Nearly everyone feels it every single day, and most of us for many times throughout our day. It’s what makes us human.
Some of us are better at putting on the “I’m fine” mask than others. But in the moments when we’re alone, and there’s no reason to pretend, we take down the mask and Fear comes out in full force. Believe me, we feel her and we feel so alone because of it. She’s very good at keeping us isolated because she has lead us to believe that our fears are unique, especially bad, and far too shameful to share. They’re not. They’re just not.
What if we could take down the mask that hides our true feelings and tell people we can trust how we REALLY feel? Hey, wait a moment, why don’t I create a course to help people to work through their fears in the journal? Ooooo and create a safe place where we could meet with other people who have fears too?
JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP LET'S TALK ABOUT FEAR AND TAKE OFF OUR MASKS!
It’s a closed group, and it’s about keeping it real. It’s not a place to bitch and complain, it’s a place to share you pain, and move through it with the help of people who understand.
It’s about rising up together...
kathy mercure is a writer, storyhealer and a storylistener. Her life’s work is to gently draw stories from her students and help them unblock their writing, find their voice, and heal their lives. Her passion is to support women and men in realizing their true identity as a valued human being, claiming their passions, and speaking their truth as they become their most authentic selves. (Photo by EagleSpirit Soul Shots)