Thursday, June 14, 2007

Letting go of the fear of dreaming

When we come into this world we arrive without expectation of what our lives will be. Having spent nine months wrapped up in the perfection of the womb, we do not know the difference between right or wrong, good or bad. We do not know the significance of words, of labels, skin colour, accents, social status. Birth is the natural outcome of the gestation of the fetus; the fruit of a seed impregnated in love. As we move into the world outside the womb, we experience sensations for which we have no words. We begin to feel. The air. Hot. Cold. Comfort. Discomfort.

At birth, the only natural response we carry with us is our startle response, or what psychologists call the Moro Response; The infants involuntary reaction to loud noises and the fear of falling. By three months of age we lose our fear of loud noises and falling and develop new fears based on our environment or external stimuli. We develop words that define us, that label us. Words that inhibit us, that position us in a world that, once upon a time was filled with limitless possibilities, but which we learn to fear as we adapt to the environment around us.

Fear is on my mind this morning. I'm stepping out into the unknown. Mapping a course for my future and fear is a natural part of that equation. What I do with my fear is what will make the difference in my life today leading into tomorrow. Will I be driven by fear to retreat, to step back from the void, fold up my wings and step away from possibility? Or, will I be drawn by my courage to trust in the wind beneath my wings to hold me up as I spread them wide and fly? The choice is mine. I have everything to lose and everything to gain by drawing upon my courage and flying free of fear.

Yesterday I met with two life coaches who assisted me in getting my book published. We talked about next steps. What I want. Where I want to go. What I need to get there. The possibilities are limitless and the opportunities boundless. The only thing holding me back is me. And fear.

When I was a child I feared the future. Growing up in an angry household, the future was as unpredictable as the weather. To escape my fears of my father's next outburst, or my mother's next threatened suicide, I retreated into my imagination. We didn't have TV so I dove into books, into writing, into story-telling. My safe place was my bedroom closet. I'd climb inside, close the door and by the light of my flashlight read away for as long as no one noticed I was missing. At night, I'd huddle beneath the covers and use the crack of light sneaking in through the partially opened doorway to illuminate the pages of whatever book I was reading. In books I could escape the world I knew to journey across foreign soil, distant lands. It wasn't the stories I was reading that held my imagination in thrall, however. It was their ability to take me away from my fear of the world around me and the certainty that tomorrow would come and with it, anger and sadness, pain and sorrow. I just didn't know when or how.

In my imagination, I could pretend to be anywhere but where I was. In my imagination, I could avoid the pain of my child's world. Tears dissolved and fear abated as I created a safe place that no one else could enter, unless I invited them. I seldom told anyone of my imaginary world, a place where I created the future of my dreams. A place where I didn't have to face my fears but could retreat into someone else's life unfolding upon the pages of the storybooks I read. I didn't dare tell them. I feared their ridicule and wanted, at all costs, to avoid the pain of their rejection. However, in retreating into make-believe to avoid my uncertain present, I unconsciously tied together planning for the future with causing me pain. Like a mongoose using his heightened sense of smell to avoid an area where a tiger is present, I used my heightened sense of fear of the future to keep me from looking beyond today. In the process, I associated the future with avoidance of pain in the present and thus developed an unhealthy fear of planning for the future!

It's time to untie the knots that bind me to a past where tomorrow held only fear and pain in my child's mind.

What a gift.

Most of my life I believed there was something 'wrong' with me. While I saw everyone else in the world willingly and joyfully setting goals, I berated myself for my recalcitrance in goal-setting. I liked to keep my goals fuzzy, ill-defined. I feared putting them on paper. Speaking of them. Marking them. It isn't that I feared success. I feared the untold child's pain of knowing the future was a certain place of pain. My unconscious fear of the pain the future held, kept me in its thrall, preventing me from creating the future of my dreams, not my nightmares.

No more. Like a new born child arriving into this world without expectation of life on earth, I am leaping beyond my fear of falling into the certainty that my world is filled with the limitless possibilities of my life today. A world in which I can create the life of my dreams.

This is a world of wonder. A world of exciting opportunity. A world where I can dream big and soar high. As I fly, I let go of childhood fears and embrace with childlike wonder the freedom of being all that I am meant to be when I let my courage draw me through my fears into the light of being me.

This is a world of opportunity. An exciting place, waiting to be explored. It is not imaginary. It is not a figment of my imagination. It is the world my dreams are made of.

What a gift.

May your courage draw you into the exciting opportunities of your life today as you step out of the fear of creating the life of your dreams and into the certainty that you are free to become all that you are meant to be.

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