Where the fear comes from...

What is it that hold me back?  What keeps me from being all that is within me?  It is a funny question for me to ask, given the work I am doing to help others finds their way through this briar patch.  I know, deep inside, that this answer is within, but as I sit here with this question, my mind provides me all sorts of reasons why I cannot step into that place, and as I look at these reasons, they all circle around fear, the fear of rejection.

These questions are not unfamiliar to anyone I suspect, they are rhetorical questions but there is some truth in the asking of these questions. What would people think?  What would people say? How would they treat me if they knew? These questions speak to the fear that lives below the surface, the fear that forms the wall, the barrier to change.  This is the fear we all have, the fear of being rejected, being rejected for being ourselves.  It is a fear that arises naturally over the course of a life, in small ways, often by well-meaning people who love us.  It arises as our expressions of who we are must be modified, we are ‘too loud’ or ‘too busy’ or ‘too quiet’ or ‘too shy’.  In overhead moments when adults are speaking, unaware of our presence, unvarnished opinions drop from the sky into open minds where they take root and grow unobstructed for years.  In the unmet expectations of those we love, their small unguarded moments when the truth of their own fears become ours as well.   This fear lands, in small unintended ways for everyone, no one escapes these moments, the unintended consequences of living.

Many years later, in the quiet moments of meditation, or the focused moments of therapy, these small fears arise again.  They show up in disguise holding you back, slowing you down, encouraging caution when it is not really needed.  These disguised fears come through in the small talk that takes place within my mind.  The concerns about how I would be seen, what others would think, and how I would be treated, these wonderfully costumed players all point to one thing, the fear that lives within of being rejected.  This fear of not being enough, on my own.  It is this fear that drives the work, that drives the study, that drives the performance, this fear of being rejected.  It is the spring from which the need to be helpful has arisen, the same source where the rejection of help was born.  It is this spring that gives rise to the twin flames of anger and shame, and keeps me on the hamster wheel recreating the same situations and making the same choices repeatedly over my lifetime.  Despite knowing this, knowing this fear, it is still so very hard to step past it, and into myself fully.  There is something there that holds me back.

Meditation has been the cloth I have used to polish my magnifying glass.  It has been the filter that has helped me sort through the rocks looking for the gold that lays underneath it all.  In the moments of meditation, the only thing that shows up is me, my stories, my hopes, my fears, the busy mind, the old memories, the imaginations, the fantasies, it is all there, and it belongs to no one else, it is no one else’s, it is all mine.  I cannot lay blame for my thoughts and feelings in this moment, onto anyone else, they belong to me, they are covered in my scent, dripping with my DNA, they are the exposed stories of my fears.  In looking closely at all that arises in my head, I have this chance to begin to see the patterns that emerge, the themes that seem to tie together these funny little choices I have made, and the long arc of the narratives that seem to re-occur again and again in my life.  The ways I work to get my needs met, the ways I arrange things to confirm my biases, the magnetic pull of hard work for others that seems to snag me, every single time I walk past it.  But each of these things belongs to me, they are my treasures, no one else’s. 

It is clarity that is the cure for my fear, it is clearly seeing that this fear of rejection arises within me, and it is the rejection I have internalized and now deliver to myself.  It is the voice in my head that now guards the exit, no one else need take this job, it is filled full time, and has been for as long as I can remember.  It is this clarity that allows me to see that the door is open and I can leave whenever I choose, and now and then I come close to the door, and begin to look out, and wonder what it might be like if I just stepped through.  For now, I stick my head out and look around, and hold tight for the expected rejection.  It has not arrived, and maybe it will not, but with each look, I get a bit braver, and one day soon, I shall step through that doorway.

If any of resonates for you, and you happen to be curious, and wish to study it more, do not hesitate to drop me a line. If you would like to know more about my work, or to work with me, feel free to contact me.  I post regularly to Instagram (@gilgrimes), Twitter (gilgrimes)  and Facebook (gilgrimes) about whatever arises from my meditation each day.  And if you would like to stay in touch sign up for my newsletter (probably once or twice a month at most).