Fear is the Most Useful Feeling
A few years ago, someone that I truly admired and from who I learned a lot, told me one day: « Fear is the most useless feeling, it never served anybody. » As I always loved beautiful sentences, quotes and psychological revelations, I found this incredibly smart and incredibly true, and I kept it warm at the back of my head. Every time I was afraid, I told myself that fear was a useless feeling and that I had better things to do.
I don’t know if you have ever tried to stop feeling something just by telling yourself that it was useless. For me, it has never been very conclusive. I might as well tell myself that it was useless to be afraid, sad, angry or to feel any other feeling that I didn’t want to feel. It never (never, ever) helped me to stop feeling it. Lame technique.
Like all of you, I have a lot of fears. I am not talking about everyday fears, like the fear to be late or the fear to have left the oven turned on after leaving. I am talking about deep fears, the ones that put down roots in us, the ones that could decide our life without us even knowing it. I know some of them very well - since childhood. Whilst I discover some others as time and experiences pass. I hide a few of them deep down inside of me and pretend not to see them. And there are the ones that I resist, the ones that I don’t want and fight with all my strength.
One of the first things we learn in yoga, and that I shared with you in the first days of my trip in India, is that we are not our emotions. I am afraid, it is a fact. But I am not my fear. It is quite difficult to understand and comprehend this the first time. How can I split up my feelings from my person? Not identifying with your fears (and more broadly with all of your emotions) – how can we do it? And what does it mean?
I see my fear. I am aware that I am afraid. I know what it does to my body. In general, when we are afraid, it is close to stress. Our heart is beating faster, we are thinking faster, we are speaking faster, we are moving faster, we are sleeping badly or not at all, we are super sensitive or even irritable. It is different for everyone. You probably know your symptoms, the symptoms that let you know that you are afraid, and let you see your fear. By definition, if I see my fear, if I see what it does in my body, then it is something else than me, it is not me. It is not me, I am not it. Closed deal. I am not my fear.
If you and your fears are not the same person, then you can get the upper hand. Or rather keep the upper hand. You can choose, in any situation, whether you are on a rope dangling with the fear to fall. Or, you are falling in love with the fear to commit. You can choose to stay in charge. You are the leader, you are driving. Never let go of the wheel.
Whilst doing my training in Bali, one early morning during the first few days, our teacher made us repeat several times: « Hey fear, I see you, I love you, you’re my best friend, take my hand and let’s go through this together. » We repeated the same sentence and replaced fear by sadness, anger, grief. It was a pretty puzzling experience. It is not every day that you decide to talk to your fear, in unison with fifteen people you just met, in the middle of a rice field three thousand miles away from home. But also, it felt completely insane. Take my hand and let’s go through this together. More than not identifying with our fears, we were learning to accept them, to love them and to be kind to them. Don’t resist your fears. Don’t fight them. Quite the opposite: trust them. If I am afraid, then there is a reason.
Since coming back from Bali, and in the beginning of October, I tried to go back to my Parisian life, little by little. I started to teach yoga, I continued to write, I spent some time with my loved ones. For all that, I knew that I had a decision to make. I knew that I had unblocked a new level of myself. Like in video games, the more you dig into yourself, the more you unblock levels. And I understood really quickly that the new me will no longer be happy in my old life. I had a decision to make. What to do, where to live, with who to build the next steps of my life. But I had no idea of how to make it. How do I do it? Then, I realized that I already had the answer, I had it in myself for a long time. I knew deep down, I knew exactly what I had to do and what decision to make. I always knew. We always have the answers in ourselves, no doubt. I never wanted to see it, or consider it. Because I was too afraid. Because it was exactly the decision that scared me the most. I was scared in every cell of my body. So, this is exactly the decision I made. (And I am still scared in every cell of my body).
I changed my life several times; I questioned basically everything that was granted in my life, and people often told me: « Yes but this is easier for you to leave everything and go, but me, I am not that kind of people; I can’t, I am too afraid. » It always made my ego super happy of course. But it made me laugh as well. I advise nobody to spend time with me when I am making the big decisions in my life. I am so scared that I am sleeping all the time. Some people don’t sleep, me: I need to sleep as much as I can to escape my reality and forget that I am afraid. And when I am awake, my mood can change in less than a second. I am going from total excitement to complete sadness. I can cry about missing my subway, and then I am deeply happy to cross a little ugly dog in the street. I am scared to death. I am afraid, like everybody else. But I am not my fear. I am in charge. I use my fear to know where I have to go.
So, in the end, fear is the most useful feeling. (And this one is from me, you can hang it on you wall, right?) Fear is leading you exactly where you want to go, where you need to go, where you have to go. Fear is for yourself. On the other side of fear, there is the life that you deserve. Give yourself the life you deserve. (This is also from me, yep). Don’t fight your fears anymore, don’t put them in a closet in the back of your head. Try to understand them, try to listen to them, they have a reason to be there and a message for you. They carry your deep wishes, your dreams, the meaning you want to give to your life, the life you want to live probably, even maybe your vocation. They have a message for you.
Look for your fears. We build a life full of security and comfort, an everyday life where we erase our fears, we forget them, we never face them. Do the job: Go dig them up and ask yourself why. Why are you afraid? Look for the bottom line and surpass yourself. Surpass yourself, you owe nothing to anyone except you.
With all my love, always
PS: Try to not take your fear literally. If you are on a rope and you are afraid to fall, maybe you are afraid to fall in life, to fail. If you are afraid to die, generally when we are afraid to die we are afraid to live. Because when we live fully, when we achieve our dreams and overcome our fears, we never think of the deadline.