How Facing Fear Can Be Beautiful

Once we choose to look fear in the face, we harness the power to transform our lives. But this is the deal: Transformation can get ugly before it gets beautiful. 

Each time we are brave enough to deeply explore, to sit in our darkness, to allow dissolution of who we thought we were and what we thought we wanted, a little clarity gets washed up. We breathe deeper, the air tastes sweeter and the sky expands with possibility.

The more courage I have to delve into layers where fear has been at work, the more I gradually yet powerfully transform my life.

Here I share how I’ve recently faced three kinds of fear, and the challenging journey I’ve been on before tapping into a beautiful new reality.

Fear of Truth

For a long while, truth had been tugging at me, imploring me to notice it. It began whispering ‘something isn’t right’ and it got louder the longer I ignored it. There were pangs in my stomach, a vice around my heart, compression in my lungs, I couldn’t focus or create. But here’s the twisted part: I labelled it fear.

“If I am blocked from feeling love and ease then I must be in fear, right?” I went digging for answers and got lost in the abyss of deconstruction of myself; I clutched at ideas that vaguely resembled a possible explanation of what was wrong with me.

I went about ‘fixing’ myself with self-care rituals, Shamanic healings, kinesiology sessions or a powerful yoga class – all of which would momentarily alleviate the sense of helplessness.

But eventually the discomfort would return and I’d get frustrated I hadn’t ‘done the work’ sufficiently.

I spun myself into a vortex of exasperation, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just relax and be myself? What more can I do to fix me?”

But the discomfort in my body wasn’t asking me to heal more or do more yoga, it was asking me to listen.

When I was finally ready to be still and listen, I began to hear my intuition – the voice of truth.

I’d dismissed it, avoided it, ignored it, I’d labelled my intuition fear, because the consequences of acknowledging truth were uncomfortable, they meant a radical shift away from what I was most attached to, and what I was desperately trying to make work.

How humbling it is to look back and see how I was mistaken, that what I yearned for was not meant for me, and to have stepped through the darkness into more beautiful, truthful things on the other side. All I had to do was listen.

Fear of Disappointing People

Until recently I had two modes: 1. Give every single breath and every piece of my energy until I deplete. 2. Shut down completely after becoming depleted.

When I looked deeply into why I’d never been able to set loving boundaries, I was reminded of one of the most poignant self-discoveries I made during yoga teacher training.

In a pubic breakdown/breakthrough moment in front of 89 other yoga teacher trainees in Bali, I identified that one of my limiting core beliefs was ‘I am a disappointment’.

But back in real life, post teacher training, I subconsciously continued compensating for this belief by giving more and more of myself for fear of being a disappointment.

The female nature is to give selflessly, to nurture and endlessly provide, even towards other women. It can feel selfish and rigid to say ‘no’ or ‘not right now’. But if our boundaries are weak, they invariably get trampled on and we become depleted. We withdraw and retreat to preserve the morsels of ourselves we have left, and our loved ones are left confused about why we’re suddenly no longer there to supply.

I’ve learned that if all we do is give, we’re sending the message that it’s always ok to take. We teach people how to treat us and the tough lesson is that it’s not someone else’s responsibility to recognise they’re sucking the source dry.

I no longer tell myself the story I am an endless giver. I no longer admire or aspire to that story. Instead I aspire to better communication about my limits that represents self-love, self-respect and a beautiful freedom from the fear of disappointing anyone.

Fear of Being Alone

Throughout the end of 2017, I spent more time having inspiring conversations with wonderful people than ever before in my life. It was an enriching, meaningful time of deep and joyful heart connection. But the more time I spent socialising, the more difficult it was to be alone.

I feared the enormity of what could be unearthed by sitting with my incessant inner dialogue, but I was committed to creating a deeper, more truthful connection with myself and I was learning to communicate a loving ‘no’ to friends. So I chose to spend the Christmas period alone, barely engaging with anyone.

So many thoughts were stirred and so many emotions surged within me. At once I could feel anxious yet hopeful, sad yet relieved, safe yet uncertain. I felt all the feels in all their potency. I noticed the way my head would throb or my stomach would knot or my breath would fade as old stories and opinions released from the hardened layers of my being.

The more I faced all the dark, icky, confronting, uncomfortable moments and survived them, the braver I became to face more of them.

After several days of what felt like my own silent retreat, I started to experience spontaneous moments of blissful peace. It was like I was being rewarded for having my own back, for the implicit trust I placed in the challenging process of getting real about who I was being versus who I really am.

The beautiful thing is that being alone now evokes more joy in me than fear, and spending time with friends means I’m showing up an even more present, loving and truthful version of myself.

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house, I would like to see you living in better conditions.”

– Hafiz
Images: Jake Holly