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Between Fear and Fearlessness

Between Fear and Fearlessness

​So…I opened a private practice…WHAT?!  It is exciting.  It is challenging.  It is meaningful.  It is scary.  It is overwhelming.  It is a myriad of emotions that swirl and change daily culminating to the thought, “Well, what now?”  To explain, let me start at the beginning.

All goals and well thought out plans start with an intention.  A tiny seed of thought planted and waiting for the right conditions and opportunity to grow.  I had always intended to land in private practice one day.  I have owned my own business before.  I saw how the teachings of yoga and meditation helped increase the well-being of the yoga practitioner mentally in this business.  This triggered my desire to return to graduate school for my master’s in social work with the intention to become a licensed clinical social worker who could one day use the evidenced based skills of psychotherapy with the ancient teachings of yoga in a collaborative process.

When you plant seeds, you are not always certain the environment is right.  Is the soil fertile enough?  Have I watered the seed enough?  Does it have the right food source to continue to nourish it?  Is the light sufficient to grow?  I think these are the questions we ask ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, when we decide to make a change.  It can be the fertilizer that helps our intention grow or it can the weeds of self-doubt blocking us from seeing our opportunity.

It is those weeds I want to talk about for a moment.  If our proverbial weeds are our thoughts, how do our thoughts block us from reaching our goals.  It goes a little something like this…

“I think I should go into private practice [insert your own personal goal here].  I am excited for this opportunity, but what if I don’t know how to get things organized and off the ground?  I might fail?  What would people think?  I really should be doing more to be prepared.  What if I never get it together?  Is this right for my family? I might as well just quit now while I am ahead.”

The coulda, woulda, and should’s start flooding our mind.  Those thoughts, when given attention, grow and take root in our minds making it even harder for our seeds of intention to grow.  The spinning thoughts stir up feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and FEAR that, when allowed to root in our minds, can resemble worry, anxiety, depression, or poor self-esteem.

Fear is a tricky emotion.  Fear is helpful in that, at its best, it keeps us safe, manages expectations, and prepares us for challenges.  However, fear often lives in extremes.  At one extreme, fear is frozen, blocking us from moving forward towards our goals.  At the other extreme, fear is panicked and will impulsively act to sabotage our goals.

Buddhist teachings inform much of our evidenced based mindfulness techniques in today’s psychotherapy.  Buddhists believe that a cause of distress is from living in these extremes of emotion.  They teach “finding the middle path.”  On the middle path, there is a calmness (a still point you might say) that acts as the “weeding out” of our spinning thoughts.  By plucking the weeds, light is allowed to shine on the seed.  Clarity is found and movement towards the right action occurs.  On the middle path, we can step forward towards our goals.  The middle path does not mean that the process is easy.  It just means we are led by our truth and not the negative thoughts that “weed up” our minds.

So, back to my story.  I planted a seed of intention many years ago.  An opportunity presented itself.  I was not without fear and all the associated “weeds”, but I sought clarity by doing the work to envision my intended path.  I would like to say I am living day to day fearlessly in my private practice; but, the reality is I still have days when insecurity, doubt and fear emerge.  None of us are immune to these emotions – not even your therapist!  I just choose to walk my path finding a place somewhere between fear and fearlessness.