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Monthly Archives: August 2017
“There was no happy ending. I never called her. Using my cowardly cunning rationale, I eventually convinced myself she wasn’t that interesting anyways, that it probably wouldn’t have led to anything, and that it just wasn’t that important.”
When I was 14, I spent a week with my handball team at a tournament summer camp. There was this girl there, Britt, who caught my eye. At the final dance, we timidly chatted a bit, maybe even danced (as I recall, “dancing” meant standing across from each other looking down, trying not to move too much:)
A week after camp, I got a letter in the mail from Britt. Oh my, she thought I was cute and wanted to talk to me again, with her phone number included and an invitation to call her.
You can imagine how excited I was, my belly doing summersaults. I fantasized for days about the smooth conversations we’d be having, and how’s she’d be laughing at my quick wit.
So what happened?
Fear happened! I was terrified to call her, and even more terrified of the idea of being with her in person, just her and me. I read her letter over and over again, always feeling excited and flattered, but when it came to dialing her number … fear ruled me.
There was no happy ending. I never called her. Using my cowardly cunning rationale, I eventually convinced myself she wasn’t that interesting anyways, that it probably wouldn’t have led to anything, and that it just wasn’t that important.
BS! The simple truth was I desperately wanted to call her and I let fear be the strongest force in me. Hence, I totally missed out on … who knows what?
For years and years after that event, I repeated a similar sequence in my life in general and in my relationships in particular. Whenever I let my fear be the strongest force, it consequently led to unhappy endings. I walked away from countless relationships, and didn’t participate in countless opportunities, all because of fear.
There were so many things that seemed to cause that unpleasant pit in my belly. Getting really close to a partner. When a girl REALLY liked me and wanted us to be more serious. When she got mad about something and tried to talk me about it. So many times I let fear get the upper hand.
It wasn’t all bad, of course. There were many times where I followed my heart and did not let fear rule my choices.
After five years of university studies, I had all the required credits and exams to complete my master’s degree. I only needed to finish my final thesis. I chose to walk away from the whole thing because it was sucking the joy out of my life and because I never had my heart in it to begin with. In fact, the only reason I started my studies in the first place was because I was afraid I couldn’t make a decent life without a master’s degree.
Lots of people thought I was nuts to walk away, and I had serious fears they were right, but I still did it. In my heart and gut, it just felt like the right thing to do.
After years of physical and internal misery I finally admitted to myself that my life was not working and that my way of doing things was causing serious harm to my wellbeing and my relationships. It was scary, but I took the leap of faith to “quit” my old life. I sold my apartment, got rid of all my stuff, and moved to another country with no clue of where I was going.
A few years later I took another big risk that really paid off. I spent the last $8000 in my savings account to sign up for a course at The Option Institute in Massachusetts. I lived in Denmark at the time, had no steady livelihood and no clear path of where I was going. But I had a recurring voice in my mind that said to get myself to The Option Institute. So I did, knowing full well it was my last money, but choosing to trust that it would work out.
The first morning I was there, I met Sonika.
Now, I know there’s a lot of refrigerator-magnet wisdom that says, “Just follow your heart”, “FEAR is only False Evidence Appearing Real” (or more entertaining, Fuck Everything And Run), or, “Do it anyway”, which is great, but in my experience, it’s been a lot more complicated than that.
Much more than “overcoming” fear, it’s been about developing an empowering, judicious, and sometimes even fun-loving relationship with fear. Because it’s not just something to “get over” once so we can do the thing we were afraid to do. Fear arises each time we step outside of the box into new territory, and as a result, it’s not going away anytime soon, if ever.
So what to do?
There are a few things that have been absolutely key for me …
1. Understanding the good, innocent intention behind my fear. The Course in Miracles says there are only two states, love or fear. But I find the fear comes with a good deal of love in it.
2. Making friends with my fear. Since it’s not going to go away permanently (well, perhaps some day when I’m a more enlightened person), I might as well co-exist with it in a harmonious way.
3. Realizing how my fear points to my triggers, which points to what I’m making up in my head, which points to a decision I made long ago, which hardly ever serves me anymore. And which can be changed.
4. Gaining the discernment of when fear is to be listened to, and when it’s just paper tigers roaring in my head.
5. Having the courage to move ahead with clear action in the face of fear (should have done that with Britt 30 years ago!)
6. Learning how to decrease the intensity of my fear, and yet remain calm when fear is intense.
Sonika and I have this motto of sorts: Trust, risk, and keep a sense of humor. We try to live by that in all aspects of life. Whether it’s a trivial everyday relationship issue like working out a conflict between us or it’s big, intense, life-changing stuff like losing all our money or wondering which country to live in.
It’s from that place we developed our newest workshop offering, Fearless Love, Fearless Life.
If you would like to embody more of this spirit in your own life and relationships, come join us for our newest workshop, Fearless Love, Fearless Life. You’ll get to have fun with your fear, make friends with it, take it “for a walk”, and connect to the amazing love and power that’s waiting for you right on the other side.
And keep a sense of humor :/)
Rooting for you!
Christian & Sonika
“I led sexuality classes in college as a student teacher where I passed around sex toys to middle-aged women who didn’t know whether to giggle or throw up.”
Where do you stop yourself because of your fear? In what ways do you stay safe and comfortable instead of venturing out towards what you really want?
Almost always what keeps us from stepping out and taking risks is our fear of failure. We are scared of things not turning out well. We make up a story that the outcome will be bad in the end, and we feel so uncomfortable at the mere thought of doing something new that we stop before we start.
But everything we want is outside of our comfort zone!
That experience of aliveness, exhilaration, expansion and passion that we all long for, comes first from a willingness to be physically uncomfortable as you step into new territory, and to take action no matter how scary it might seem. Over and over, Christian and I watch people in our trainings navigate through discomfort only to discover massive transformation, deep love and bliss on the other side.
Certainly one of the side benefits of taking risks, is that we often discover that our fears are way worse than reality. Even if we do happen to fail, we find that we can learn from our mistakes and grow ourselves to be more competent and powerful than before.
I have developed a working relationship with fear over the years, by taking fear with me into new experiences – some of which were terrifying for me.
I have jumped out of an airplane, gone spelunking in underground caverns, parasailed at 200 feet, crossed rickety bridges and zip-lined over deep canyons, hurled myself through the air on ropes courses I don’t remember the names of, and rafted down white-water rapids in California and Wyoming. I worked in Yosemite as a national park laborer for three summers, bravely handling a chainsaw my first year. I walked on coals twice, led workshops in the nude, and was a guest speaker at numerous conferences.
I led sexuality classes in college as a student teacher where I passed around sex toys to middle-aged women who didn’t know whether to giggle or throw up. I have subbed for ministers on Sundays delivering inspirational sermons that made people cry. I have been married and divorced more than once. I traveled to Mexico by myself when I was 18. I have designed and facilitated relationship trainings for over 38 years – in Michigan, Canada and California, and even on cruise ships to Mexico.
This upcoming weekend, I am Dancing With Our Stars in Nevada City, where I will be performing two dances with a sore hip, two weeks before my 60th birthday, in front of some 700 people.
I have had my failures over the years. I have had my voice crack in the middle of singing a song to a crowd. I have bombed miserably in front of hundreds from a joke gone bad or one of those terrifying blank-outs when I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I was going to say. And I have had two people show up to what was supposed to be a large speaking gig. Imagine the hollow sound of their applause!
These “failures” have taught me a lot about fear and life, and about humility and humor.
I have learned that all failures and mess-ups diminish and heal over time. There is almost nothing that can’t be repaired, forgiven or learned from. When we use failures and mistakes as learning opportunities, we can never really “fail”.
I just heard of a man who literally passed out from anxiety and stage fright at the first workshop he was leading. It turned out that his fainting created immense vulnerability, connection and love between him, his wife and the workshop participants. As a result, it substantially changed his relationship with fear. Why? Because, when the worst thing happens – and you’re still ok – you don’t have to worry about the worst thing happening ever again.
More importantly, I have discovered through my many mess-ups, that no one cares! People are so afraid of failure themselves, that they actually aren’t judging you as much as you think they are. In fact, they love it when you mess up and laugh at yourself. It gives them permission to take risks and make mistakes too! I have learned to laugh out loud at myself if things don’t go as planned.
Oh, I still get scared. I have been afraid off and on about this dance competition. But it isn’t stopping me. On the actual evening of the event, I will simply take my fear with me for a twirl out on the dance floor! And if I fall or mess up, I will laugh and appreciate the heck out of myself for risking stepping out on the edge of life yet again. My favorite motto is “Trust, Risk and Keep a Sense of Humor!”
Taking action in spite of fear is a skill to develop. It takes practice!
If you would like to take a dynamic look at your relationship with fear, and step out beyond your comfort zone so that you can milk this life for all it has to offer, you are invited to attend Fearless Love, Fearless Life. Discover a new relationship to fear so that you are never stopped again from doing what your heart longs for!
Here’s to trusting, risking, and keeping a sense of humor!
🙂 Sonika Tinker
I was looking in my partner’s eyes and for the thousandth time feeling like something was missing. I so wanted to feel intimate, but as usual, I didn’t. I felt empty and lonely.
Even when we were lying in each other’s arms, making eye contact, I felt nothing. I kept looking for that magical in-love feeling, the sense of connection and oneness that people talk about in fairy tales. But after years, the feeling still eluded me. Why didn’t I feel that?
I was pretty sure it was my partner’s fault. If only he were different, I would feel more loved and swept off my feet. Maybe if he shared more of himself with me? But when he did, I still felt nothing. Maybe if he touched me more? Nope. That didn’t work either. Maybe if he acknowledged me more? Was more present? Looked more deeply into my eyes? Was more awake and sensitive?
I tried for years to figure out what HE was doing to “make me” feel so disconnected and separate. Oftentimes, we both looked at what he was “doing wrong”. Try as we might, nothing he did ever made any difference. We only got farther and farther apart.
One night, when I was yet again wanting to feel in love, I had a realization that changed my life forever:
Wanting and having cannot exist in the same space at the same time.
I realized that I could not WANT intimacy and EXPERIENCE intimacy at the same time. As long as I was “wanting” love, I would never “have” the experience of love and intimacy I desired. It wasn’t possible. Why? My wanting took up all the space!
No wonder nothing my partner did made any difference!
It didn’t take a rocket scientist for me to realize that this was not the only place I was wanting.
I was stuck in wanting everywhere in my life.
I wanted to lose weight.
I wanted to make lots of money.
I wanted to feel loved.
I wanted to do important work.
I wanted to be healthy.
I wanted to be beautiful and thin.
I wanted to be a great mom.
I wanted to be a good lover and a good wife.
I realized, that even when I did lose weight or did make money or did hang out with my beloved, I DIDN’T FEEL ANY DIFFERENT!
As I looked more closely, I began to see that I attached “feeling” states to certain “forms”. I realized that I believed the “form” or acquisition of a thing would make me feel a certain way.
I thought I would be happy when I lost weight. But I wasn’t.
I thought I would be connected when I was in a relationship or if my man was a certain way. But I was still lonely.
I thought if I bought real estate and made lots of money, I would relax and enjoy life. But I didn’t.
I thought if my kids loved me, I would feel loved. But I still thought I wasn’t enough.
Frankly, I was shocked.
Every external thing I went after did not actually make me feel any better when I got it.
I began to see that there was a difference between the “thing” I wanted and the experience I hoped I would feel when I got that thing. I saw that the “thing” and the experience were not connected at all.
My happiness and love did not live in any “form” in any-thing.
I started noticing how commercials keep us mixed up. They are always giving us the message that if we buy that truck we will feel powerful, or if we buy that mop our kids will be happy, or if we buy that shampoo we will feel special and in love.
So now what? If my happiness does not live in a thing, if nothing out there will make me happy, then how do I get happy?
Well, it took me a lot of years, but I finally figured it out.
Go straight for the feeling experience.
I developed this powerful process I call “Living in the Question”. This question tricks my mind into imagining myself having the experience I really want.
It goes like this, “If I were (feeling experience) right now, what would I say? What would I do? How would I be?”
So now when I am lying in bed with my man, I ask myself, “If I were in love with my man right now, what would I do? What would I say?”
And whatever answer my mind gives me in the moment, I do it. I imagine myself feeling in love, and the feeling of love comes from within me. I instantaneously step into a love space.
Or I ask myself how I would be right now if I had already lost all the weight I want to lose, and I find myself eating better food and having more energy – which is the reason I wanted to lose weight in the first place. I can feel what I want to feel now without having to lose a pound.
This question has been my lifesaver. I now know how to move out of wanting into having.
I am much happier, peaceful and loving now than I have ever been. I don’t try to change my externals, though I still have fun playing with that stuff.
And I don’t make my beloved wrong anymore.
Now, I look in his eyes, breathe in sync with his breath and dive into sweet deep love with him. It is so beautiful to be joined with him, to feel that sense of oneness and connection I longed for all those years.
And guess what?
It’s better than all those fairy tales…