I thought that since I shared how I learned to process fear that I would also share a few more things things that I have learned along my journey. Namely, that fear and ego have been made out to be the bad guys in life. They do have a purpose and we unfortunately have given them a role that they aren’t qualified for. They have conveniently become our enablers, our “devil made me do it” fall guys which really isn’t fair to them or us. We have also become afraid of fear and have been told repeatedly to learn to overcome our ego. Unfortunately, since they work together and are a necessary part of our physical survival in life it is a gross error to try to repress or annihilate the one and fear the other.
Fear and Ego should be the Heads of our Safety and Security Department. Let me explain: Once when I was three years old I was at my grandma Martha’s house. We were in her kitchen at the table and I was drawing. I was also tipping back the chair I was in. She had told me repeatedly not to because I could get hurt. Guess what? I did get hurt. The chair tipped over, I toppled and luckily I didn’t break any bones or lose an eye (which was a major concern for grandma) but that pencil did make contact with my forehead and to this day I have a chunk of pencil lead stuck under my skin and slowly creeping its way towards my hairline. My Ego remembers that incident and so whenever I am in a chair and I tip it back I now have a fear response…little flutters in my tummy; like you get on roller coaster rides going over that first drop. Ego is doing its job. It remembered and it used Fear to make me remember and hopefully I put my chair down before I get hurt…again.
Here is how Fear and Ego have become our enablers. We took them from their role as Safety and Security and put them in charge of our Life Guidance System…a sort of GPS. They can do an adequate job in their new role but more often than not we get stuck. We get stuck because Fear and Ego being great at Safety and Security try to convince us that relatively mundane things are dangerous. Some of this we can rationalize our way out of and move on and because of that they have learned to find other ways to keep us safe and stuck. They bring up every mean and horrible thing we have ever been told and began to believe and then repeated to ourselves.
I come from a family that is quite creative. I can include myself in that (now). There was a reason that I was drawing in the above example. Grandma and I had been to art class. She was an artist and went to a studio every week to paint. One Sunday in an attempt to keep me busy during church service she gave me paper and a pencil and asked me to draw a bird…and I did…and it looked like a bird. She was thrilled that someone had inherited her artistic gifts and from that point on every Saturday from the age of 3 until I was 18 grandma and I went to art class. I excelled.
I won awards at art competitions, I was admitted into a gifted-youth programs and was the only 6th grader in a class of Junior and Senior high school students vying for scholarships to Art Schools. I was even offered one of those scholarships. As well as I did, and as thrilled with my work and prospects as grandma and my instructors were, my parents weren’t.
Art was a hobby and nothing that I could make my living at. Artists were drunks and druggies and no daughter of theirs was going to get wrapped up in that world. I wasn’t special I was just young and I needed to start focusing on what was important. I was told that once I was an adult, I wouldn’t be special and I would fail so I needed to learn skills that would make my future husband and children proud. I was persistent that I wanted to be an artist.
They arranged a meeting with a lady (a friend of my mother’s) who sat on the Board of a local art school and I went portfolio in hand and I was quickly dismissed, my “work was good but not special and they only have room for students that present at a certain caliber.” My parents told me it was better that I learned it then and to move on, it would get me no where. I was not special and I would inevitably fail. I was crushed.
That incident has dictated my artistic career (almost) my entire life. I didn’t stop creating, it is in my soul, I need it like air, but outside of a class or two and doing works for friends and family I didn’t push it. If someone told me I was gifted or my work exceptional and want to introduce me to someone or offer me a job I would panic, and start talking my way out of it. I could not face another incident like the one when I was 17. I became hypercritical of my work, There were even long periods where I didn’t do anything remotely artistic.
Every time I was presented with an opportunity and after the initial knee jerk fear reaction and the memory of that meeting I ran a list. “Do they really like my work?’ They can’t possibly, I am not that great. I have seen better and it seriously only took me minutes to do, I put in no effort there, they are just being nice. “Why do they want to purchase the painting?” I will just give it to them. I am no one. I haven’t made a name for myself in the art community, I am not famous, I am not a professional…this is just a hobby. On and on this would go. Ego had remembered my pain, emotional pain not physical, and brought in fear as reinforcement and so I wouldn’t talk my self out of this potentially threatening situation that it is supposed to be protecting me from it used a self doubt tactic to keep me from processing and moving on.
So, if Ego and Fear shouldn’t be in charge of our life guidance system who should be? You! You should be or to be exact your Higher-Self should be. What is your higher-self and just exactly how can you tell when your Higher-Self is trying to guide you? That will be next weeks post….
Photo taken by Pamela at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico