Journal Entry #55
I have a unique relationship with FEAR.
Before I discovered hypnosis several years ago, I was terrified of heights. But not just any height. For instance, I could hike to the top of a mountain, stand at the edge of a cliff and be in complete awe and reverence of the view. But, ask me to climb a fire tower at the top of said mountain and I would just freeze. My legs would shake, tremble uncontrollably and simply would not carry me another step. It seemed that the FEAR was only present on man-made structures like bridges, lighthouses, towers or balconies. After just one hypnosis session, I “tested” to be sure that the changes were permanent and had taken effect…and they had! Since then, I have enjoyed (kinda) ziplining in Guatemala and Costa Rica, a drink on the 37 floor balcony of a high rise downtown Toronto, looked out the window of an aircraft in flight, tackled a few rollercoasters and stood on the glass floor of the CN Tower! And I am happy to report, no shaking legs, no freak-outs or panicking – well except on the Predator at Darien Lake, NY. Now, I know that I don’t like rollercoasters all that much…not because I am afraid of them, but because the jostling and force is so hard on the body that I just don’t like the feeling of them.
I have also used hypnosis to overcome motion sickness, manage stress, set goals, open my mind to new ways of thinking and problem solving, overcoming hives (severe stress response in relation to authority) when going through customs…and now…the latest…FEAR of bugs.
I don’t think that I am meant to hang on to FEAR. I think that it is there to teach me something. I think that FEAR holds me back, keeps me prisoner to a programmed life, prevents me from expanding and growing. I think that FEAR is something that I choose to buy into…begin to believe…and then use as an excuse or a crutch to avoid life. But I believe that FEAR can be a huge catalyst for growth, for change and for success. I believe that FEAR is there to get my attention for something that is unresolved or to indicate stress or to let me know that “something is off.” I believe that FEAR is healthy when I pay attention to it and recognize that I can choose to engage in the feeling of FEAR or I can choose to dismiss it and push through it.
Trouble comes for me when I choose to engage in it…when I believe that the FEAR is real. That’s when the panic starts. That’s when the anxiety starts. When I start to buy into the thoughts that the FEAR generate. Present day scenario:
Buzzing Bugs (trigger FEAR of bugs)
FEAR Thought – Oh God! don’t let that bug bite you…it might have bugs…
FEAR Thought – you might have to do Chemo…again
FEAR Thought – Oh God! what if they start eating your flesh?
FEAR Thought – I can’t go through that again…F*ck!
FEAR Thought – Oh God! It is coming for me! Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!
FEAR – physical reaction, sweating palms, short breath, jumbled thoughts, racing heart, laser focus on the buzzing bug until it is no longer buzzing…
I am working with Elliott to choose a different reaction. Once the FEAR thoughts take hold, it is challenging to get out of them. But, I am applying the power of my thoughts to the FEAR now. I know that it is a choice to engage in the FEAR. I am realizing that if thoughts perpetuate the FEAR why can’t thoughts squash the FEAR? So now, I am looking at bugs with wonder, noticing their legs and wings and the intricacies of the designs on their bodies. I wonder what is their purpose in this world? How do they add value to the planet? Where do they fit in the food chain? Now, when I hear buzzing I calmly remind myself that I am one in a million – and the chance of me contracting Leishmaniasis from a bite again is almost zero. I think about how safe we are in Canada and that bugs here typically don’t carry fatal diseases. I remind myself that I have on bug spray and that just because they are buzzing doesn’t mean that they are biting. I talk gently using my internal voice to find calm and stay there until the moment passes. I am not always successful intercepting this FEAR (still working with Elliott on this), but when I do, there is a cool thing that happens 100% of the time;
I feel exhilarated!
Like I have just ziplined across a volcano.
Like I have just conquered going backwards on a rollercoaster.
Like I have just stood on the glass floor of the CN Tower.
I showed up. I stepped into FEAR. I survived.
100% of the time, when I step into FEAR, I feel exhilarated on the other side. You might call it adrenaline or a rush. But I would go as far as to say that what I actually feel on the other side of FEAR is…
When I am in ownership of the choices I make in life, when I can truly decide if I don’t want to do something because I simply don’t like it and NOT because I am afraid of it…I am the most ME that I can be.
There is more ME on the other side of FEAR.
Hypnosis has been helpful getting me to this place of mental negotiation. Elliott has taken me through a process to desensitize the triggers to help me rationalize the thoughts and manage the stress. He has prompted me to remove the sensation that I felt when the bugs were feeding on my flesh so that when or if I think about it, I don’t freak out and I can’t reproduce the sensation or feeling no matter how hard I think about creating it. Weird, right?!
But, totally amazing!
I have a friend who is actually afraid of FEAR. It is like being anxious that she might have an anxiety attack. It’s a fear of a fear. Very complex. And very real for her. As I go through befriending my own FEARS in this life, I can see how a FEAR that I may carry can easily become a FEAR that my child carries. And that is a heavy burden. Its also a MAJOR reason for me to push through my own FEAR in order to be an example. Life is hard enough on its own without taking on the FEARS that our parents pass on. So, the buck stops here. I am not afraid to face the FEAR, I am not afraid to do the work, I am not afraid of growing and I am certainly not afraid of feeling exhilarated.
So this summer, I held a Python. And encouraged the kids to hold it too. Because how can you know if you like snakes or not if you don’t try it? How can you know if you are saying “NO” to holding the snake because you are afraid or because you just don’t like them without having the experience?
100% of the time, there is more ME on the other side of FEAR.
This summer, Faith and I laid in the grass and let the bugs buzz around us. I breathed through the FEAR, reassured myself mentally and I watched them dance in the sky, swarm around, minding their own business, never landing on me, just buzzing around. And guess what I felt?
This summer, I put my feet in sand for the first time since Belize, 8 months ago. I felt the FEAR that there might be sand fleas there too, and I did it anyway. I took a few deep breaths, walked the small beach back and forth a few times, revelling in the feel of the warmth between my toes. Enjoying the space where the water lapped at the sand and I dipped my toes in the water. I reassured myself that this is Ontario, not Central America and even if there are sand fleas here, they are nothing like the ones there. And guess what I felt?
The last few months, I have blogged my inner most thoughts and feelings as I go through this Leishmaniasis Journey. I have felt the FEAR of being vulnerable, the FEAR of being judged, the FEAR of not being enough and disappointing those that I love. I am only human. We are more alike than we are different and chances are that if I am feeling it, someone else out there has too. I felt the fear and I clicked “publish” anyway. And guess what I felt?
I have a unique relationship with FEAR. FEAR isn’t here to hold me back from my truest potential. FEAR is here to help me reach my truest potential. I am okay to experience FEAR in this life and I am also okay to experience the discomfort that comes with pushing through it. I am okay to break the cycle of FEAR and be an example for my children that FEAR is a teacher and NOT a prison.
It isn’t comfortable. It is often messy. Sometimes, it is painful. But it is totally worth it.
100% of the time.