As I post this, I’m spending the second half of August with my 2 youngest grand-girls, Emma & Hanna, as well as their parents, my son Jonathan & daughter-in-law Claartje, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
There was a time when I could not have made the trip, including the 8-hour overnight flight, because of the crippling anxiety & fear of travel that plagued me earlier in my life.
Before my journey through 12-Step recovery & the life reckoning it required, anyplace unfamiliar was a trigger for unrelenting anxiety & panic attacks. The only place I could comfortably go was the New Jersey shore. A place I visited each summer with my grandmother & other family members from girlhood.
Everything that went into my fear of leaving home was written layer by layer onto the canvas of my life through nurture, nature, & some combination of cautionary tales & deep dark family secrets.
Never underestimate the power of FEAR. Referred to in 12-Step Recovery circles as False Evidence Appearing Real. I do not deny that fear can be an indication of danger, but more often it is something old and embedded in us that takes away our vitality & courage to move ahead with a new challenge or opportunity.
False evidence, also known as lies, can multiply like rabbits transforming into a whole set of limiting beliefs that are running the show to no good effect in our life.
Keep in mind that this is not a rational process and the mind that creates the false evidence is not the mind that will unpack it. In fact, it can often set up a loop of reinforcement that embeds the limiting belief deeper and deeper.
Here’s an example that clarifies the point. My little dearly departed Shetland SheepDog, Grace was always on guard to be sure I was safe. You could say that in the absence of real sheep, I became her lamb. Our neighbor who lived in the house behind ours had a motorcycle. Gracie was generally a quiet dog as Shelties go, but each time our neighbor fired up the bike, she would race up the hill to the edge of his yard and bark like a complete maniac. Her goal was to keep that monster machine out of our yard. In Gracie’s mind, it worked! Our neighbor never drove his motorcycle into our yard! End of story. You could have never convinced Gracie that the motorcycle was going off into the other direction, regardless of her actions. There was no danger, False Evidence Appearing Real. My travel anxiety was like that.
So, what to do about the anxiety and fear that keeps us from moving forward in ways that enrich our lives.
Liz Gilbert, in her brilliant work, Big Magic has a chapter entitled “The Road Trip” Liz describes the symbiosis with fear like a family road trip. Here is what she says to fear: “You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you’re not allowed to have a vote.” Then after listing all the things fear is NOT allowed to do, Liz concludes “But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
Once we have acknowledged and even welcome in our fear, it’s time to take further action. According to Martha Beck, current research shows that lies (aka false evidence) spread six times faster than true facts. There’s only one thing that spreads as quickly as lies, INSPIRATION*.
Avoid the negative. It is meant to enslave us. Don’t fall for it. Remember fear & anxiety most often come from the thoughts. The left hemisphere hates to give up control.
To access the voice of your true nature, listen to your heart.
Inspiration can be described as taking in the divine.
Practice the following steps 3 times per day to grow & foster inspiration.
- Slow the breath in & the breath out
- Choose attention without effort
- Move your mind with curiosity to explore a creative idea
- Take in small doses of art & music
- Go for a walk in nature
All the above will enhance the flow of creativity and inspiration while reducing the hold of FEAR….false evidence appearing real.
What inspires you? What connects you to your true self & allows you to take in the divine? What would be possible for you when fear loosens its grip?
*[Martha talks about this antidote to fear & anxiety in her May 11th, 2023, Gathering Pod episode. Here’s a link to the entire episode if you want to listen. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gathering-pod/id1544173982?i=1000612638695]