I certainly hope not.
In the context of this new year, I have been thinking a lot about what it is that prevents us all from pursuing a life that is true and unforgettable. There are many answers of course, but the main one that kept showing up is FEAR.
Fears impact every single decision we make. They govern our thoughts, and limit us in our ability to really think big.
The first step to changing your relationship with fear is to IDENTIFY THE FEAR
Ask yourself, what are you afraid of? So many of our fears are deeply rooted in our subconscious and we may not even be aware of them. If you dig deep, you might be surprised with what you will find.
Examples: Are you afraid and concerned about what others think of you? Are you afraid to fail, and therefore sometimes you might not even try? Are you afraid to be vulnerable and love so deeply, afraid that you are setting yourself up for more hurt and pain? I will stop there, or this piece can easily turn into a novel...
After you've identified your fear(s), in the words of Ana Forrest, STALK IT, TRACK IT, STUDY IT. What's causing your fear? How does acting out of fear hurt you? How does it make you feel? Go hunting. Fear is a signal and it always has an origin. Once you find the source of your fear, you can begin to address it, respond appropriately and therefore stop making decisions based on fear.
"Studying your fear changes your relationship to it and begins the exciting, terrifying breakthrough to freedom" Ana Forrest
Before moving back to London less than two years ago, I was living in NYC. My life was very different back then. I was an investment banker, with a promotion to VP in sight, and... I was miserable. Of course there were some moments of joy with my husband and friends, but generally I felt lost. I decided I needed to do something about all of this and made an appointment with a therapist that was recommended to me. Growing up, therapy was never really spoken about and was very uncommon in my family and circle of friends. I always thought that therapy was for people with "real" problems. This was big for me and was a testament to how desperate I was to change.
Before I go off subject, let me explain how this all fits into this post about our fears and how they limit us from living truly fulfilling lives.
A couple weeks into my therapy sessions, my therapist asked me: "Imagine that anything is possible, where do you see yourself in a few years? What would your life look like?"
For the first time in my life, I did not allow myself and my dreams to be paralysed by my fears. I did not think about the practical, I stopped analysing and dreamt big. My answer came easily. Here is what I pictured for MY life: A family of my own, close friends, a house and a yoga studio. I realised that I wanted to fill my life with love, people, my passion for yoga, and the challenge of creating a business that brings all these beautiful things together.
From the moment I stepped out of the therapist's office, I was committed to understanding these fears and stories that had been holding me back for so long. On my yoga mat and off, I began to identify, study and track these fears in my mind but also in my body. Here is what some of the dialogue sounded like: "You can't really do this. You're not good enough. Building a business is for truly exceptional and street smart human beings", "How in the world are you going to be able to support yourself and your family with yoga", and of course "What a disappointment you will be to your parents: banker turned yoga teacher, WHAT??", "What will people think of you"...
As far as tracking my fears in my body, the breath and the yoga practice helped me explore this aspect. When I am consumed by fear, I feel this in two main spots, my throat (I feel choked up) and my belly (nauseous, bloated, you name it). Not sure where you feel it? Jump up into a handstand and you'll soon find out :D.
So now I turn the question over to you. What if ANYTHING was possible? What would you do? Where would you live? What would your life look like? Then begin making small changes, small decisions (not based on fear!) that get you that bit closer to the life you want for yourself. It starts small. A wise guy from a hallmark movie I watched the other day (not ashamed to admit it.. ok yes maybe a little) expressed it well when he said:
"Now pay attention, because I'm about to tell you the secret to life. Ready? The whole damn thing is about decisions. Little seemingly insignificant decisions that clear the road for monster truck life altering ones"
Ah yes, now read it again with a southern U.S. accent ha!
You might not be able to banish all your fears, but make the choice to stop allowing them to rule your life. Don't let them hold you back from living a glorious existence.
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