I remember very clearly how I would treat my bills when I was deep in debt: I wouldn’t even look at them. Just stuff them in a drawer and try to pretend they weren’t there.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to pay my bills — I just couldn’t. I didn’t have enough money. This prospect of not being able to pay my bills was terrifying, and even looking at the bills would fill me with a sweat-drenched fear. So I would try not to even think about it, even if in my heart I would have to admit I did think about it, too much. The fear was still there, but I would try to drown it out with beer and TV and sweets and fried food and shopping and the Internet and other distractions.
The same thing happened with my weight problems: I would try not to look too long in the mirror. I knew I was getting way too overweight, and that it wasn’t healthy and didn’t make me feel good. But I didn’t want to face this problem, because it seemed insurmountable, too overwhelming.
But the truth is, these problems are not made better by ignoring them, by turning away from the fear. They are solvable, if you tackle them a little at a time. I’m proof of that, because I solved the debt and weight problems despite years of struggle.
With my debt, the turning point came when I finally took a deep breath and pulled all the bills from the overstuffed drawer. I took them out, and one by one, I made a list of the things I needed to pay. This wasn’t that hard a step — it’s just making a list. But with this one little step, I was taking control of things and facing my fear and starting on the path to recovery.
The first step to recovery was turning toward the fear.
The same thing happened with my weight: the recovery came when I finally faced the problem and decided to take some positive steps. I started running, then doing pushups. I started eating more fruits and veggies and less of the sweets and fried foods. I started looking at the scale (something I hadn’t done in years) and eventually even taking pictures of myself, so I could see the difference over time.
What I learned is that the little child inside us, this Childish Mind, doesn’t want to face the fear. It’s too overwhelming. So it hides, and runs, and avoids.
But we do not need to be ruled by this little child. We are not our Childish Mind. We can be the adult that takes the little child in our arms, and gives it a hug, comforts it, accepts it as it is, and then helps it take action.
I learned not only to turn toward my fear, but to accept it as a phenomena inside me, just another passing cloud. It was only a feeling, and it would not go away if I tried to avoid it. It went away when I turned toward it and accepted it and comforted it.
Try this the next time you find yourself turning away from the fear inside you. Turn toward it, and see the cowering little child that doesn’t want to face its fears. Comfort the child, accept the fear. And then take action, despite the fear, doubt, discomfort and frustration.
Mission: Journal about a fear
As you do your habit today, be mindful of any fears you have. See that they are passing clouds that won’t drown you in their thunderstorm forever. Turn toward the fears, accept them, comfort them, then do the habit anyway, with gratitude. Journal about the fear.