When I first moved to Oakland, CA, I had recurring nightmares about driving around scary neighborhoods filled with gun toting gang members.
And just when I thought I’d pushed aside my fears of gangs, something truly frightening happened.
It all started on an unusually warm January 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 weapons 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.
When opportunities seem life threatening
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.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
When it comes to fully expressing your purpose and potential, most of the things that 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.
Crossing the threshold between the death rebirth
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 of the old self, and we don’t feel prepared to go in.
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.
But when we do cross it and face our fears, magic happens. People show up, clients come naturally, and there’s a big boost in creative energy.
So what if you’re stuck in “purpose purgatory”?
You have three choices:
1) Stay stuck by going about your normal routine; never take chances, and risk the perpetual feeling that something isn’t quite right.
2) Stay stuck by shifting your focus to a new project because you think you’ve found a better direction. (Don’t kid yourself. I see people doing this all the time and it’s usually, but not always, a way to avoid facing the figurative death and not risking 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 figurative 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 navigating your purpose and potential, you always have a guide nearby. It’s much easier to face fears when you have a support system to help you through them. But you need to make the first move and reach out for assistance.
I’m certainly available to help you navigate this terrain. If you’re interested in receiving help, fill in your name and email and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.