When I first moved to Oakland, CA, I had recurrent nightmares about driving around in seedy, scary neighborhoods.
Just when I thought I’d pushed aside my fears of gangs, something truly frightening happened.
It all started on an unusually warm, winter morning. A friend and I were sitting outside at a cafe, preparing to share a lovely breakfast.
Suddenly it seemed we were under attack.
The sound of automatic weaponry filled the air, the crowd looked nervous, and I leapt up to take cover inside.
My friend, on the other hand, ran into the middle of the street to investigate.
At first I was miffed and wondered how anyone could be so dumb. I envisioned his insides splattered on the ground, an unsightly mess, and me having to call his mom to explain why he was dead.
But as my imagination got the best of me, I slowly realized what was really happening.
Turns out the restaurant next door was celebrating the lunar New Year — firecracker style.
Sometimes things seem life threatening, but turn out to be nothing but a joyful celebration.
For instance, how many people are terrified of public speaking, or going public with a website?
Due to the nature of my work, I know a lot of people who fear both.
For some, public speaking and having a website are two of the scariest things they can imagine doing.
If you’re one of them, or if you have a similar fear about being in the public eye, you might be interested to know that these are not “monster in the closet” fears, but truly life threatening situations.
Metaphorically speaking, of course.
When it comes to growing lifework, most of the things that might scare you, like public speaking, having a website, or coming out as a service provider who specializes in somewhat “woo-woo” stuff, require that you face the death of who you are now in order to grow into who are you becoming.
And that feels like death.
It feels unnerving.
Unfortunately, when many people feel this way they freeze and stay stuck.
And when we’re stuck, no matter how badly we want clients, or buyers, or new collaborators, nothing happens because we’ve unconsciously planted our feet at the foot of a significant threshold, the gates to death.
In the hero’s journey this gate is the threshold from the known to the unknown, and crossing it forces us to face our fears.
When we don’t cross it we stay stuck in a sort of purgatory which can feel like living in hell. When we’re in this place, things feel less than satisfying. They are truly frustrating. Worse of all, we know we’re not living up to our potential.
So if this happens to you, you have three choices:
1) Stay stuck by going about your normal routine; never take chances and risk always feeling that something isn’t quite right.
2) Stay stuck by shifting your lifework focus because you think you’ve found a new, better direction. (Don’t kid yourself. I see people doing this all the time and it is usually, but not always, a way to avoid facing that metaphoric death and taking their work to the next level.)
3) Consciously cross the threshold, confront your inner demons (which look like external events, people and situations) and move beyond it.
As mythologist Joseph Campbell said so eloquently, “You have to be willing to give up the life you’ve planned for in order to live the life that’s waiting for you.”
So what is your preferred option for dealing with metaphoric death?
If you constantly choose 3, then you are probably feeling fully aligned with your life and on top of the world.
If, however, you usually opt for choice 1 or 2 you may want to investigate why.
Also, you may need to find someone to help guide you into the new territory. In the hero’s journey, the heroine always has a helper. In growing lifework you need a helper too. It’s much easier to face fears when you have a support system to help you through them.
I’m certainly available to help you through spiritual guidance or lifework direction. Email to find out more details.