So for the last couple of days I’ve been sitting with my fear. This is a process I first discovered in Martha Beck’s book Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny. She calls it the ring of fire. It’s a process beyond story, beyond the mind. As many people have pointed out to me, “feelings just want to be felt”.
I’m wrestling with the fear of becoming visible, of becoming the magnificent woman that I truly am. This fear has been holding me back from building One Big Umbrella, from writing my show, from being vulnerable around people I care about or want to impress. This lives in my body as a feeling that it’s dangerous to do this. This makes sense on an unconscious level as we’re tribal animals and somewhere in our dna are memories of being separated from the tribe for being different.
But in truth it’s dangerous to stay where I am, to continue to play it safe, to be the “good girl”. I have gifts to bring to the world. I know this to be true as I continue to sort out what those gifts are. I know I can do this. I know it’s possible. I have so many people in my life who do live in this way.
So as Martha puts it, the only way out is through.
One thing I have discovered is while I feel fear, it’s not terror. That tells me I’ve made progress, that a lot of my behaviour is just a pattern I developed when I was running from fear. I still sometimes hear an inner voice that says “I’m scared” but I don’t hear it as often and it’s not as emphatic. I just say to it now “It’s ok to be scared” and I send it love.
Fear has its uses. When we’re in physical danger it prepares our body to deal with the threat. The problem is that it doesn’t differentiate from the now and from the stories we have in our head.
I no longer try to slay the dragon. I’m hoping we can happily co-exist. Imagine what this world would be like if everyone was able to do that.
The first time I plunged into the Ring of Fire was when a co-worker I was really interested in started dating someone who worked with us. I couldn’t avoid them and it hurt just to look at him. Then I read Steering by Starlight and decided to lean in. Boy, was it painful - and useful. I saw where I had let myself down by not asking for what I wanted. I saw the story I was telling myself about not being attractive enough to the men I wanted. I relived a lot of past heartbreak. And I emerged stronger and more confident in myself.
Thank you, Martha Beck, for being a guide on my journey, and for this book in particular. I would probably be even further along my journey if I hadn’t resisted doing the exercises. But I am still plunging in.
If you’re struggling to find meaning in your life, or if you have a strong desire to change it, check the book out. Just click on the link.