Overcoming Fear to Take Action

Six years ago, just shy of my 52nd birthday, I bungee jumped 300 feet off this bridge in Whistler BC Canada. I did not think I would be afraid because I had been a rock climber and rappeler in my teens and twenties. I have no fear of heights, but when I stood on that bridge, I froze. The idea of diving off into the ravine was terrifying! I told the guy that I changed my mind and didn’t want to do it. Laughing, he assured me that I did want to do it! We argued back and forth for a minute or two. He told me that it wouldn’t get any easier and began a quick countdown.

I knew the longer I waited, the more frightened I’d become. I realized that this was something I did want to do, so I took a deep breath and dove. Let me tell you, there is nothing natural about hurtling 300 feet through the air toward the rocky river below. Nothing. And yet, I was safe. The rope held and I dangled happily at the bottom. I felt so alive and empowered! I dove despite the terror.

I find that life is very much like this. There are things we want to do, accomplish, and create. We feel the urge, the necessity, even. We know what we want. Then we get to the edge and freeze or we're like a deer in headlights. We may begin to talk ourselves out of it, tell ourselves that we really don’t want this, or that it isn’t possible to dive and survive. Worse yet, we may begin to believe the fearful stories we are telling ourselves.

I don’t know about you but when there is something I need or want to do and I don’t do it, I can feel terrible. I can feel ashamed. I can feel ineffectual. It starts to look like a monster,  keeping me awake at night. I can spin stressful stories about why I’m not good enough, smart enough, or brave enough to take the action that’s required. These stories take on a life of their own and can paralyze me. Just as I was paralyzed on that bridge 6 years ago.

The young man on the bridge laughed at me, with great compassion and understanding. He did not judge me. He did not shame me. He did not push me. He did playfully challenge my story. He did lovingly, with humor, encourage me to see past the story of fear I was spinning. He did not invite me to be unafraid, but he did invite me to take action, to jump despite the fear.

I can see how important it is to do the same when we’ve spun a story of fear for ourselves. I see how important it is that we not judge or shame ourselves. I see the importance of having compassion for ourselves, even gently laughing at our humanness, and taking action despite the fear.

I see the importance of acting quickly before the fear takes on a life of its own. I see, too, that even if it has taken on a life of its own, we can act at any moment despite what powerful story we’ve spun or how much fear we may feel.

There may be something you’ve dreamed of creating or accomplishing. There may be something you know you need to do in order to take care of yourself. You may be avoiding it because you are afraid. I understand. I’m afraid, too. And, like you, I’ve believed the fear completely. Yet, I want to dive. I know I want it. You want it, too. 

So, advocate for yourself, just as the man on the bridge advocated for me. If you can’t find a way to do it for yourself, then find someone who can advocate for you. Someone who believes in you. Someone who understands our human predicament.

“Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, we're afraid!" they responded.
"Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, We will fall!" they responded.
"Come to the edge," he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”

― Guillaume Apollinaire

The man on the bridge didn’t push me but he did invite me and he did stand with me.

I invite you.

I invite you to fly despite your fear. I see your wings ready to unfurl.

How can you overcome fear to take action? You could:

  1. Recognize the fearful stories you are spinning.
  2. Take them a tad less personally.
  3. Don't wait for the fear to pass.
  4. Dive. The sooner, the better.

I'm taking my own advice today after a few weeks of taking my fearful stories all too personally. I feel encouraged knowing that you, too, may do the same.

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I invite you to Schedule a Taster Session to learn more about how I can support you in taking action in an area of your life that is terribly important to you. 


What’s Missing From Your Life and How Do You Keep it Out?

I recently came across this question in a Steve Chandler book and it rocked me. “What’s missing from your life and how do you keep it out?” It rocked me because I see how effortlessly I can focus on what’s missing and give little attention to how I keep it out. I can easily fall into the trap of staying in the mire.

The first part of the question without the second part can leave me a victim. The second part opens up the possibility to become a creator. It is empowering. It is opportunity.

Things shift when I focus on the second part of the question. My perspective widens. My wisdom becomes accessible once again. If I sit with the question long enough, I can begin to see a way forward.

When I focus on the first part of the question, I tend to blame everything-out-there for what’s happening to me. I am constantly rearranging the deck chairs or I shut down and do nothing because what’s the point.

When I ask myself how I keep out what I most want, gently and with compassion, I sit a little taller. I become a tad clearer. I begin to see the truth that I have indeed closed myself. Once realized, I can allow myself to open again. I can take the next step if a step is needed.

Are you lying awake at night worried to death about how you are going to pay your bills? Are you lonely and disconnected from those around you? Are you struggling in your relationship, hoping and praying that your significant other will finally change? Do you have a calling in your life but fear letting go of your "shoulds" or "shouldn'ts" in order to follow it? Ask yourself, with love and compassion, how you may be keeping out what you most want in your life.

Yes, it can certainly be a confronting question. It confronts us and then it heals us. Listen, no one is coming to save you. That realization scared me almost to death, until I realized that I don’t need saving. You don’t need saving either. You and I are already whole. When we forget, we suffer.

John McCain's recent death reminds me of this. He didn’t forget that he was whole when he was a tortured POW. He understood why they beat him; he understood that it wasn’t personal. His body never fully recovered but his essence was intact. Whether or not we agree politically, he lived his life from a place of service despite the torture.

Your essence is intact, too, no matter what is happening out there. The question is, how do you keep out what you most want, no matter your circumstances?

I invite you to sit a while and reflect on this question: What is missing from your life and how do you keep it out? It could transform your life. 

I enjoy and appreciate your comments! The comment box is below.

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Focus on Your Dream and Flourish

What are your dreams? How often do you imagine what you most want? What do you want beneath that want? Have you ever considered what your soul most desires, what the deepest part of you longs for?

I have. There are times I get a clear sense of it and I am soaring. Then a pile of stressful thinking gathers in my mind and I become mired. Suddenly, my focus is on the mire rather than on the dream. Everything becomes about the mire. How can I get rid of it? How can I change it? What if it never goes away? It’s so boggy! I’m overwhelmed! I’m stuck here!

The mire takes on a life of its own. It can be rich, complex, and compelling. I could spend days or even years there! But my dream is nowhere to be found. I’ve lost sight of it. I’m afraid it no longer exists. Life becomes about the mire instead of the dream.

We often spend countless hours, money, and effort working through the mire but relatively little on our dreams. What would life be like for you if you brought your attention back to your dream? Your dream will inspire you. It will give you energy and passion. Martin Luther King didn’t dwell on the mire, he dwelled on the dream and invited us to do the same.

Yes, mire is a reality. Stressful thinking is a reality but we can move through it, or, better yet, let it move through us. We could take our focus off the mire and put it back on our dream. We could keep our dream right before us. It will guide us out of the mire. Dreams have a way of doing that.

When I dwell on the mire, I find that I am drained of energy and motivation. I become fearful and overwhelmed. I begin to feel hopeless. When I turn my attention back to my dream, I find courage once again. I find passion once again. I can see that my dreams are bigger than my fears, hurts, or disappointments and I am able to take the next step toward them.

What is your dream? Take time to discover it. Feel it. Let it live you. It will. It will give you the courage and peace to move through the mire. Spend your time and energy on your dream rather than on the mire and watch your life flourish.

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Eleanor Roosevelt

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What to Do When You Can't Find Your Way

What do you do when you’ve lost your bearings? When life isn’t going along as you planned? When stress seems to overtake you? What do you do when you are whirlingly worried? When you can’t find your way forward?

I understand the angst, fear, and hopelessness. I understand wanting to run away. But to where and how can we possibly find our way when we are in a turmoil state of mind?

Imagine a pond that has become turbulent and cloudy. You fear that you have lost something in it. You are walking around in the pond, searching for what you've lost. The more you disturb the water, the less likely you are to find it.

I invite you to sit on the bank. Sit and wait. Wait for the turbulence to subside. It will. Wait for the debris to settle. It will. The pond will clear and become peaceful again. It is then that you will see what you're looking for, what has been there all along.

Too often, when we become stirred up, we continue the stirring, innocently, and we wonder why we can’t see clearly. Sometimes, all that’s needed is to stop and wait. It may take only a moment or it may take a month or more but it will clear.

When we are in the throes of the turbulence, we can forget this simple message. We can forget that it will clear once again. That's OK, it will clear despite our forgetting.

I'm grateful today for this reminder: “If you let cloudy water settle, it will become clear. If you let your upset mind settle, your course will also become clear.” Buddha

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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

We were walking by our favorite pond that features many wonderful birds when we noticed one of the two purple gallinules (one of our favorites!) was limping and the other one was nowhere in sight. It appeared that the limping bird had broken her leg and the other one must have been taken by a predator. We were very upset! The worst part of it was thinking that the injured one was left all alone and couldn’t possibly make it.

The next day, we visited again and neither bird could be found. Both were now dead. Most certainly. We felt sad but relieved that they were no longer suffering. The following day, we found one of them! No limp! Perfectly fine! We felt happy.

Do you see how it works? We created a story about the birds. We felt bad with our first story, sad and relieved with our second story, and happy with our third story. We’ll feel bad or happy with our next story. The situation itself never changed! The situation simply is what it is. What changed was our story about the situation.

This is how we walk through the world. We are constantly experiencing situations, circumstances, and life through our thinking. Most of us are constantly spinning stories about what is happening around us. Depending on the story we create, we will feel happy or sad or any number of other emotions. Do you see this at work in your own life?

I’ve been waiting for some news recently. It’s news that will have a big impact on me no matter what turn it takes. Each day, I spin a different story about it. Each day I experience different emotions depending upon the story I spin. Some days, I feel relief when I imagine nothing comes of it. Other days, I feel relief when I imagine something does come of it. The scenarios I create in my mind are made up and yet I experience them in the moment as if they are real. The situation isn't changing but my stories about the situation are.

This is how our psychological system works. We create our lives via thought and consciousness. You could think of thoughts like the painter’s palette and consciousness as the painter. The painter has an array of colors available to her. She chooses which she wants to create with and she leaves the others on the palette. She creates with the colors she chooses, creating form from the formless colors. Thoughts are similar. They are energy moving through us but once we start painting with them, whether they are stressful or peaceful, we create our unique experiences, we create our lives. That’s why you and I and every other person can react or respond to the same situation differently. We are painting with different colors.

If we don’t understand this, then we are at the mercy of the stories we spin. If we have some understanding of this, then we can wake up to what is happening. We can remind ourselves that we are spinning this or that particular story. We can bring ourselves back to the present moment.  When we get caught up in the past or future, we can obscure our wisdom and become confused about how to handle what's before us. Waking up to the stories we are spinning and returning to the present moment brings us back to clarity and wellbeing.

Notice the stories that you are spinning today. What do you see? Just noticing can make a difference in returning to your clarity and wellbeing.

 I welcome and appreciate your comments. The comment box is below.


Schedule a Taster Session to learn more about coaching and how you could benefit. Carla's commitment is to help her clients overcome self-doubt and anxiety and return to confidence and peace in their everyday lives.

How to Deal with Stressful Thoughts

Nature inspires me. I can see how Life is living all of it, including you and me. I don’t always trust Life. I can worry. I can get caught up in thought storms, believing that the sun of my wellbeing will never rise again, believing that the turbulent waves of my stressful thoughts and emotions are permanent.

I forget the true nature of the ocean. It is constant, still in its vast depths, and unmoved by surface waves. I forget that the sun never sets, the earth simply turns. Our true nature is the same. Our essence is whole, good, and constant. The waves of life crash on the surface and have no impact upon our essence. Our wellbeing may be obscured but the light is always there.

I caught myself right before turning from the sun of my wellbeing the other day. I was happily basking in the joy of the day when I received a text message. Stressful thinking began moving through me immediately. Interestingly, I could see it for what it was. It’s unusual for me to catch it so quickly. More often, I find myself well into stressful thinking before I see it for what it is.

On this occasion, however, I watched the stressful thoughts move in and try to convince me to take them seriously. They were quite compelling! They were telling me why I should be upset, take it personally, and get angry. But I wasn’t! I could see so clearly that I wasn’t upset or angry. The stressful thoughts kept coming at me, presenting persuasive evidence. I laughed!

The stressful thoughts began to ease and move through me. Then they took another go at me and another. I found myself considering buying into them. After all, I had a right to be upset! I could feel myself beginning to spin a story, all from a simple text message. My stories can be quite compelling and dramatic. I can find all sorts of evidence to back them up. Can't you?

In this instance, I didn’t take the stressful thoughts personally and they moved through fairly quickly. That’s how it works. When we don’t take the continuous stream of thoughts personally and seriously, they are able to move through us, without the need to fight, change, or resist them. They will move. If not today, another day. That’s what thoughts do.

I could see it so clearly. I could see how thoughts can trick us into buying into them. Yet, that is the beauty of this human system. We create our experiences, our lives, through our thinking. It is powerful! We are boundlessly creative! “The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” John Milton

Thoughts move through us continuously. Some we take seriously and some we don’t. Once we see how it works, we can wake up to it, even in the middle of a story we’ve spun.

If you can't see how it works in this moment, that's OK. I don't know of anyone who can see it all the time and many don't see it all. I’m in the throes of a stressful story right now. In this case, I didn’t see it coming and now I’m living it, even though I know it’s just a story (such a relief!). I keep the story alive by reliving the past and worrying about the future. Sometimes I get caught up despite having some understanding of how our psychological functioning works.

Sadhguru said, “You cannot suffer the past or the future because they do not exist. What you are suffering is your memory and imagination.” Yes, I’m caught up in the turbulent, surface waves of my imagination for the moment. Even though I didn’t catch myself before spinning such a compelling story that feels oh-so-real, I know it's a story. It's like a truly good film. I’m totally engrossed in it. I do know, like all films, that it will end even if I can't wake up to it right now.

Your essence is untouchable, whole, and good despite what terrible storm may be raging. It will pass and you will fly once again. As much as possible, come back to the present moment for that is where you can meet yourself and see, once again, the sun of your wellbeing. It always has been and always will be shining.

I always welcome and appreciate your comments. The comment box is below.


Schedule a Taster Session to learn more about coaching and how you could benefit. Carla's commitment is to help her clients overcome self-doubt and anxiety and return to confidence and peace in their everyday lives.

Kindness Dissolves Walls

We never know what’s going on for another person. We don’t know what they may be going through, where their life path has taken them, who or what has influenced them, or why they believe as they do. Really, it’s none of our business.

Our business is to love. When there are misunderstandings, we could take a breath and give each other the benefit of the doubt. After all, it isn’t personal. It never is. We are all doing the best that we can. 

We could open our hearts to the other. The truth is, we have more in common than not. I’m certain of it. Let’s find the place of common ground. I promise you, it is there. It is not so far away as it may seem and kindness may be our best way to get there.

Yogananda says, “Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.” I believe it. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it.

We are quick to judge. I’m guilty as charged. It never feels good to me to judge. I feel bad even while feeling justified and sanctimonious, never good. Have you noticed that?

R.J. Palacio says, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” Yes, I’ve experimented with this and I never regret being kind rather than right, though my ego may take a hit.

Publilius Syrus says, “You can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force.” Gandhi is an example of this. Jesus, too. There are others and I aspire to live my life this way though I have a long way to go.

I become disheartened when I see all the unkindness in the world, then I turn my gaze inward and see that it begins with me. If I wish to change the world, then I must start right here, with me and with those around me. As I learn to be kind to myself, my circle of kindness-influence begins to expand and expand and expand again.

We could experiment with this notion and see what happens. I do know that when I’ve chosen kindness rather than being right, over-reacting, judging, avoiding, or shutting down, I never regret it. And, sometimes, miracles occur.

“How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!” George Elliston

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Schedule a Taster Session to learn more about coaching and how you could benefit. Carla's commitment is to help her clients overcome self-doubt and anxiety and return to confidence and peace in their everyday lives.

What to Do When Feeling Down

Are you feeling uninspired today? Does it seem that you are out of the flow? Are you feeling a bit down? I can relate. I’ve been living with a socked in psychological storm for the past few days. When I’m caught up in the storm, I begin to wonder if the sun will ever appear again. I find myself taking everything more seriously and personally. My inspiration dwindles. My resourcefulness appears unreachable. I forget the blue sky of my wellbeing. 

Can you relate? Do you notice that your focus narrows and negativity increases during those times? I find that I tend to be hyper-analytical, sensitive, and judgmental when I buy into the storm. How is it for you?

During those times, I am anywhere but the present moment. The storm has nothing whatsoever to do with this moment. In fact, when I bring myself back to right here, right now, I can’t find a thing wrong. There is no problem here.

The problem arises when I start spinning stories in my head. I jump aboard thoughts about the past and future. I tell myself that my past mistakes will surely be relived again and again. I tell myself that I’m not prepared for the future and never will be. I live inside my imagination about past and future. Neither is true but I experience it as if it were.

What are we to do when we are caught in a psychological storm? Amit Ray, an Indian author, says, “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” When I sit still and bring my attention back to my breath, I catch glimpses of what Thich Nhat Hanh sees: “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” 

My friend and colleague, Debbie Trent, who is a psychotherapist, recommends, “Get out and do something you love and know it will change when its ready.” I think she was pointing in the same direction as Thich Nhat Hanh. There is beauty and goodness everywhere but when we are caught in the storm, our negativity bias often kicks in which can veil the positive.

You and I could bring ourselves back to the present moment rather than living in the feeling of our imagined past and future. We could remind ourselves that this storm cloud will move along in time. We could stop fighting it as it is not a problem in the first place. We could relax a bit knowing that the blue sky of our wellbeing remains despite the storm.

No techniques, effort, or struggle are needed. Analysis and judgment are unnecessary. We don’t have to take the storm clouds personally or seriously. They’ve been here before. They will be here again. They will pass. They tell us nothing about who we truly are.

If we could pull out a bit and widen our perspective, we would see that the storm clouds always reside in the vastness of the sky. Our psychological storm clouds are the same. They reside in the vastness of our innate wellbeing. This is true whether or not we feel it in the moment. 

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. For there is a Force of love moving through the Universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.
— St. Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)

Schedule a Taster Session to learn more about coaching and how you could benefit. Carla's commitment is to help her clients overcome self-doubt and anxiety and return to confidence and peace in their everyday lives.