A Year of Living Fearlessly

At the beginning of the year, I was talking with a coworker about the ridiculousness of New Year’s resolutions. Despite my disdain for the ritual, I made the resolution to talk less. When I shared this with my coworker he looked me dead on and said “No, I don’t think you should talk less” and he shook his head.

It was one of those moments where you don’t know you’re hungry until someone feeds you.  Sometimes I need, at least a little validation to be outspoken. With that, I challenged myself to change the resolution to living more fearlessly. Meaning, if it scared me to say it or do it I needed to try to say it or do it. This also forced me to examine the role fear plays in my life. I can be  a pretty anxious person and fear would often stop me from doing or saying things that mattered to me.

Of course, it’s challenging not to buy into fear. I still feel fearful on a regular basis and sometimes I let it win but not all the time or even most of the time. That’s pretty good for me. I’ve learned you can’t avoid fear or anxiety, all you can do is listen to the messages those emotions give you. When fear comes up, I try to be patient and breathe. I try to explore what I’m afraid of happening if I do the thing I feel I need to do. Fear is all about staying safe. But, I’m not always as unsafe as my brain would have me believe.

Hopefully, a year of living Fearlessly becomes a life of living Fearlessly.

Pema Chodron speaks beautifully about fearlessness:

“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ”
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times



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