I’ve been meaning to send this out to you a while ago, more than a month ago, but I was holding back…. actually fears were holding me back. When I was writing about fears, ironically I was going through some shit myself. Emotional and physical challenges that shook me up a little and made me loose my focus, so for a little while fears won. Interestingly, I was hearing the same from some people who came to me for support. I then noticed I wasn’t alone, and this got me thinking about how many people have to deal with fears, anxiety, panic attacks, traumas, etc, and are looking for ways to release that weight from their shoulders. I felt called to share a bit of my story and some practices that I use to deal with those fears and how I can actually use fear to my benefit.
Because with every situation there are always 2 choices: to live in fear or to live with joy
For me, it happens every 6 months before my doctor’s appointment. A slight anxiety kicks in anticipating what my blood tests will throw at me. I started with this roller coaster ride of emotions almost 5 years ago when I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system). Most of the time things are good, but here I am almost 5 years later, scared as shit waiting at the doctor’s office. Fear creeps in… Results: health is good overall, but my liver enzymes were high again. It happened before and we were not sure why. Scared? you bet! Usually high levels of liver enzymes are indicative of liver damage, commonly due to antibiotics, excessive alcohol use, hepatitis or liver disease, neither of which I have. Of course my mind starts creating negative thoughts and I wonder if it is related to cancer or is it something else?, or maybe I had too much herbal tea that day.
Later that week my worry increased as I found out both my mom and kitty Velcro were also going through their own health issues. My body was also experiencing weird symptoms that I couldn’t explain. Then I was experiencing doubt and loosing faith in other areas in my life too! For a few weeks, things didn’t seem to align the way I wanted them. It got me lost and I needed to find focus again, fast. These fears were familiar and the feelings that came with it were no stranger either, so I resourced to a practice I learned soon after the cancer diagnosis.
I sat down with some of these fears, I asked them questions, and had some tea with them.
They all reminded me that fears never really go away, even though they are not real. But our mind sure believes otherwise, to the point that it can trigger the body to experience physical symptoms. So I asked questions, and I got answers. I gave myself the permission to be vulnerable and went back to past experiences to dig deeper beyond the obvious. Why? because we react to fears based on how our brains were programmed from past experiences. I tried to see fears without judgement and many things surfaced that revolved around something big: the fear of not achieving my core desire to love and care for those that matter to me.
The #1 thing to do when facing a fear…
This would probably be the most important thing to do when it comes to facing and resolving fears; to spend some time understanding them, where they come from, why they are here. Ask them a question, what are they trying to tell you? Is there a hidden message? While you are at it, feel the emotions that come with it: anger, sadness, grief, anxiety, anything you feel at that moment. You might be resistant to go through as a defense mechanism to avoid pain and bringing back experiences that you might want to forget. But let me tell you this, it is better to sit with it for a few minutes rather than running away and later bumping into them again. I also take a few minutes and ask myself, ‘what good is it to feel trapped in fears, physically and emotionally?’ – None. Remember, with every situation there are always two choices…
This way of thinking came to light when I noticed that the old pitiful question of ‘why did I get cancer?’ transformed into ‘what can I get out of this situation?’. My other choice was to feel bad about myself and always be scared, and I thought, what quality of life is that attitude going to provide?’ I also learned that being in fear is the opposite of love, a balanced life, happiness and I definitely didn’t want that to happen.
This is why I decided to walk along with fears and have tea with them. Because the answers I was getting were giving light to an amazing realization —> That I didn’t choose to have cancer, but I can choose to transform the experience into something powerful and meaningful where I can also help others. It is a journey of transformation and growth, where nothing is ever ordinary and taken for granted. Everything matters, gratitude is the norm and one learns that being vulnerable is okay.
But choosing joy over fear is not easy, it takes constant practice to own that power and to find joy in difficult situations. I know what it feels to fall back so many times, almost giving up, but after all of it, I have to remind myself that “I am enough, that I am worthy of happiness and I can learn to find happiness in the most unpredictable places” So I hold that vision of happiness and joy in my mind and use it whenever I need it. Can I tell you a secret? in that vision I see you too! I want you to feel powerful, joyful and happy. I don’t want anyone to feel lonely panicking in a cold doctor’s office, or feeling lonely unable to trust again, or feeling stuck in life because you are scared of trying. Whatever your fears might be, know that you can lead the way, and believe it or not, some fears can give a little guidance.
Over these past few years I have come to learn not only what triggers them, but I also found ways to deal with them with ease. For instance, I learned to re-think the signs of anxiety (sweating, rapid heart beat and increased breathing) into this is my body healing right now.
Here are some practices I learned and keep in mind in times of doubt and hopelessness when fears creep in that will take you from PANIC TO POWERFUL