“I think maybe I just don’t want to be afraid anymore,” I said to a friend in a moment of deep clarity. “I’m not actually scared of ‘the worst’ happening, so why not leap wholeheartedly? Why not risk it all and take a chance on what I really want? There’s nothing to lose if I’m not actually scared of losing anything.”
It holds us back and keeps us small. It’s natural, biological, instinctual. It’s the reason we stay stuck and stop ourselves from truly showing up. It’s the reason we settle into ruts and routines, digging into those well worn grooves as if our life depends on it… because on a deeper subconscious level, we believe it does.
We hold on to “what is” and “how things are” with a white knuckle grip, because surrendering to the unknown induces a level of terror we simply can’t handle.
Yet, when we choose to face into our fears FULLY and COMPLETELY—acknowledging “the worst” as absolutely possible—it gives us an opportunity to take back our power, our lives, our selves. Japanese Samurai warriors call this “dying before going into battle.” Coming face to face with the things we most fear—making peace with their possibility—it sets us free and opens us to other experiences and opportunities we could never consider otherwise.
It allows us to drop into wholehearted devotion around creating what we desire… because we’re no longer fearful of what we may lose in the process.
To move beyond our fears and create what we want, sometimes we have to be willing to see things through, regardless of the outcome. Even if “seeing things through” means watching it all fall apart.
A few years ago I watched as everything I’d worked so hard to create burned to the ground around me. Sometimes I even lit the match. I’d been fighting so hard to stay upright, to keep things moving, and to “stay the course” despite the grief and trauma that were slowly pulling me under.
Until I really faced into the reality of what might happen if I stopped fighting to keep things how they’d been before. The possibility of losing my business, my home, my community, my brain, and completely running out of money. And when I faced into it fully, I realized there was freedom in losing it all. There was expansion in having nothing and no one left.
Endings are simply new beginnings, as painful as they are. Loneliness is simply an open container for new connections to be formed, as heartbreaking as it feels. Rock bottom is just a sturdy foundation from which to launch again, as devastating as it can be.
I’ve been alone. I’ve been so broke I owed the bank hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees. I’ve built and rebuilt businesses from nothing more times than I can count. I’ve let go of everything and everyone known and familiar, with no idea what came next. I’ve clawed my way back from depression, grief, PTSD, and an anxiety that paralyzed me time and time again.
And every single time I rose up and came back from those dark, hard moments, it was because I chose to stop seeing it as “the worst” that could happen. I stopped being attached to my fear based stories of “how things needed to be.” Despite how gut-wrenching it felt, I could still choose to be okay. I could still choose to try again. To start all over. To not hold myself back.
Some of my “worsts” have already happened, some have yet to come, and many will never materialize. And regardless of whether I succeed or fail, I will be okay. The worst is only the worst if we resist it, hide from it, stay small because of it. And it’s absolutely the worst if we give up before we even begin.
For me, this isn’t a conversation about resiliency. My whole life I’ve loved the concept, but I don’t want to be resilient in the ways we generally use that term. I don’t want to simply “bounce back” to where I was before, I want to grow beyond it.
I want to become better, less afraid, and more of who I’m here to be. I want to be stripped clean of anything and everything that no longer fits, so I can learn to move forward in ways that are far more aligned and fulfilling… because I’m not clinging to “how things were” or “how things are supposed to be.”
I want to be open… curious… unafraid.
When we let go of our attachments and move beyond our fears, the question stops being, “How do I get back to where I was?” and instead becomes, “What can happen now that couldn’t happen before?“
What’s the possibility that’s been created, inside even the most heartbreaking circumstances? Who am I becoming in the aftermath of this experience?
The worst is only the worst if we choose to see it that way… and believe me when I say I know how hard it is to see the possibilities when everything is burning to the ground around you. When everything and everyone you love is being stripped away. When horrible things happen and trauma changes everything you thought you knew to be true about yourself and your life.
But—when you’re ready—just lean in and start asking the question, “What can happen now that couldn’t happen before?” And see where it leads you.