Wednesday, January 23, 2008

fearless living (a totally different three day conference)

With all the fearless living conferences I go to, you'd think I'd be fearlessly ruling the world by now. Alas, I'm not. I'm focusing on conquering a far more complex and confusing terrain -- me.

Over the long weekend, I went to a Fearless Foundation Workshop, run by Rhonda Britten (of Starting Over fame) and, while I won't go into the specifics of exactly what we covered (as that would breach my agreement with the Institute) I will give you a basic outline of what I learned, and why it's important to me -- for free!

(Aren't I just the best?)

First, Rhonda argues, when we experience negative emotions (anger, anxiety, frustration, despair, etc.) it's because we're being triggered by fear. We have one major fear, and when we can identify that fear, take a step back and stop reacting to it, we have much more freedom in our lives to make choices that actually serve us. Additionally, she argues, there is an essential nature that each of us has, but which we have denied, and only when we stop reacting from fear will we start to access that essential nature and end up with what she calls our "wholeness." My essential nature, as I discovered this weekend, is compassionate. And that may not surprise many of you, as I believe I'm an extremely compassionate person... to other people. Inside my own head, however, it's a bar brawl, with Judgment duking it out with Mean-Spiritedness (who is tag teamming with Not-Good-Enough). There's definitely an element of this that has served me over time (pushing me to go to Yale, driving me to be better and less complacent in just about everything I do), but more than not, it has been a really good tool for me to use to drive myself crazy. (Just ask my ex-boyfriends. I think they'll back me up on this.)

However, the problem a self-judger faces when she feels she is now tasked with the job of being compassionate is that it's really easy to sit there and tell yourself you're not being compassionate enough, or compassionate in the right way, or compassionate at all. (This was how I spent my Sunday night and Monday morning. Don't do this at home. It's exhausting.) The upside, it turns out, is that any decision I can make from a place outside of fear is already compassionate, by default! (Yippee!) The more I can do to take a step back, examine my behavior, take a deep breath, or stand up for myself (especially in the face of my greatest fear), the sweeter I will be to myself. The more I will move towards forgiving myself. The awesomer I will become.

So, while the conference was draining, at times irritating, and I basically felt like someone had taken the Jaws of Life, cracked open my rib cage and just kept spreading and spreading and spreading until there was next to no life left in me, it was totally worth it in the Peace of Mind department.

If you're interested in learning more about any of this, please let me know, visit, or read Rhonda's book, Fearless Living. I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, as it's really hard emotional work that will only benefit you if you're really ready for it, but if you feel stuck in a rut (either in your thoughts, career, behaviors, relationships, life, whatever) it'll totally help.

You may, in fact, never be the same again.

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