Breaking the Spell of Fear

I think about fear a lot.

For years I have been exploring the depths of the human experience and all of the surprises it holds – to me, this is great fun!

Having trained myself to be highly tuned into the process of making decisions based on fear, I try to ‘catch myself’ and change the course of events towards a more positive path.

I have always been intrigued by Buddhism and other far eastern philosophies. I still am.  The Scream by Edward Munch

But that’s a huge peek inside my personal life. For now, I want to share a couple of thoughts I had about a topic that (I believe) is closely connected to reinventing ourselves and career transition.

On the Tricycle Magazine website, I found an article about fear and how important it is for us to ‘invite fear in’. If  you are familiar with the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn, you may remember that he reminds us to invite the fear in for tea and welcome it warmly. He says, “Hello my friend, fear. Please come and share tea with me. Let me understand you better. I’m happy to see you”.

Seems ridiculous upon first glance, doesn’t it?

But if you think about it, there could be a very profound message here. When we stop resisting, life usually becomes less of a struggle. When we stop fighting and accept things on a moment to moment basis, our breath calms down and we feel more centered.

You probably see how this can relate to the process of reinventing ourselves and career transition. When reshaping our work identity, it is very common to feel lost, confused, anxious and even angry. I’ve heard many consultants tell their clients that it is very much a roller coaster ride. I have also witnessed clients’ frustration and declarations of “giving up on this because it’s not going anywhere”.

Do you think these feelings and reactions could stem from fear?

Are we worried that we will lose our place in the world as we know it? Are we afraid that we won’t be able to find another identity; to feel needed and be part of a group? Are we afraid that we will whither away into nothingness and be failures in the eyes of our loved ones or colleagues?

Ezra Bayda, the author of the Tricycle article, suggests that

When we can feel fear within the spaciousness of the breath and heart, we may even come to see it more as an adventure than a nightmare. To see it as an adventure means being willing to take the ride with curiosity, even with its inevitable ups and downs.

How great would it be if we could learn to think of the journey of career transition as a great adventure and ride the process with excitement and curiosity?

Our physical health would prosper, no doubt, and I imagine that the people we meet along the way would find us much more interesting as we approach them with excitement and exploration rather than desperation and impatience.

Give it a try. Invite your fear in for tea, and offer it an olive branch.  black-teapot.preview