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On Fear and Its Uncanny Effect on Your Solar Plexus


Fear is the emotional equivalent of termites. Find a tiny sliver of fear stashed away somewhere and suddenly your house is full of it. When I talk to people who fear things I used to fear - spiders, economic collapse, glitter eyeshadow - I start to get worried. Fear breeds quickly and discussions of Terrible Things That Should Make Any Sensible Person Very Scared kick up my dread of being sucked back into that sticky black mire. Like being sent back to stormy Kansas after tromping through the Emerald City. I'd prefer to avoid tornadoes, thank you.

Fear itself doesn't scare me much - it's mostly visceral. It feels like a blow to the solar plexus that shortens the breath. So if you just remember to breathe, it will pass.

Oddly enough, that's also what excitement feels like.

Maybe it's possible that fear is really excitement. Maybe it's possible to rewrite fear as opportunity. I have to look at what I fear and what that fear is calling me toward. More action? Less action? Rather than just breathing through the fear, rather than just surviving it, transform it. What wonderful things are waiting beyond the sticky black mire?

When I look at today's episode of fear, I realize that I fear not following my own self-knowledge. I fear letting other people's beliefs sway me. I fear that the world will prove to be as grim as all the news outlets are yelling it is. But if I allow myself to trust my response and my knowledge and my choices, then I can start to see the opportunities. Opportunities to let go of old stories that came from a father who would rather bury his money in the woods than trust it to a bank. Opportunities to allow myself the space to do what's right for me, opportunities to recognize that there is no right or wrong, there's only what feels right in the moment. Opportunities to follow what makes me feel good and inspired, because feeling good and inspired is the only way I can hope to affect the world for the better.

When I do this, the weight in my solar plexus starts to resemble a bird - a bird with strong wings that can pull me up out of the tornado.