Fear & Confidence Loathing

I’ve been sitting quite often with fear these days, enough so that it’s become an unwelcomed homeostasis. With some presence, feedback, and challenge from some high-powered men in my circle, I’m beginning to release the fear into a more authentic place of trust and confidence. The chest opens, the breath extends into the belly, the feet are on the ground.

It’s amazing in a human world formed by centuries of religious “faith,” that the core experience of fear with regarding to security is so prevalent. Including myself, I work with so many people who fear for their well-being – not in a rational/physical sense – but in an existential/spiritual sense. I laugh at myself because if I truly trust in the basic goodness of the universe, then I really should never worry! Right?!

Oh, if it were only that easy! If you can relate to any of this, you know how much fear permeates our daily lives. Just in the messages we get from the mainstream every day, our safety, sense of self, and trust in the goodness of humankind has to be impacted. Faith, in today’s world, is definitely an uphill battle.

This is where confidence comes into play. Before I say more, here’s a definition of Confidence I like: a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances. The consciousness of one’s powers? How many of us have been directed to “feel” the consciousness of our powers in our lives?! How can we, when we’re regularly focused on strategies for survival? Damn right, you might say, who’s got that luxury?! I get it. It’s noble and exhausting work to “provide” and “survive.” And that’s the limiting element: that we assume survival and fulfillment are mutually exclusive. We roll our eyes at people (like me) who encourage us to “live from our purpose” so we can “thrive, not survive,” when the scarcity game is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, what if survival and a deeper sense of satisfaction aren’t mutually exclusive? What if the fulfillment of our deeper needs (competency, freedom, safety, etc.) is at least partially dependent on our ability to trust that survival will come along for the ride? What if more people lived from a place of true confidence in themselves?

This week, and hopefully beyond, I’m re-allocating my conscious energy from fear/survival to an attunement of my “powers.” In this place, my confidence does not depend on the world around me to validate me or make me okay. If you’d like to join me, and need some ideas, here are three to start with:

1. The Death Exercise – Imagine your life ended today. What would you regret? What “risks” would you have taken? What causes you anxiety on a daily basis that would quickly seem less significant? Act.

2. Commune – Reach out and connect with your community – friends, family, co-workers, colleagues. Create a place to share your fears, get them out of the shadows, and relinquish their power. This could be a monthly dinner, happy hour, hiking club, etc. Make it happen.

3. Face your Fear – Find a way to be with your fear when it comes up. Acknowledge it instead of distracting yourself with thoughts and other addictive strategies. Meditation, journaling, song-writing are all great ways to channel. Also, do some reality testing? What am I afraid will happen? And then what would happen? And then what? Follow that until you hit your core fear because that is the internal place.

If you want objective professional support, look for individual coaching/counseling, groups, workshops, of which there are many in the Portland area!

– Jesse