You speak to me with your tantalizing words.
You tell me I couldn’t have it all.
You shout at me, vibrating through me:
Who I am is not good enough.
What I want doesn’t matter.
You lay yourself in front of me.
You block entry to my soul.
You cover the essence of me in noise.
I miss opportunities when you showed up.
You neutralize my relationships.
You suck the reward from my work.
I lose so much because of you.
You steal my sense of wonder.
You squelch my curiosity.
You dismiss my dreams.
May I find the strength
to push you out of my life,
your false sense of importance
and the expectations you create
less real to me.
I wrote this poem in 2005 or 2006 sometime after I attended Radical Leadership retreats (read more about my RL experience). It seemed like the first time that I really acknowledged fear in my life. It was empowering – not only to see it alive and breathing in my life but also to realize that when it shows up, I have the power to let it carry me away or sit with it or to shift it away, even if only a little.
I chose to share this poem today because recently I’ve felt a great sense of pressure, and I’ve noticed fear creeping into my days, like an insidious little gnat that just won’t leave me alone. While I notice it and brush it away, it lingers in the distance momentarily, and then returns. While most of the time I recognize that I am at choice for how I respond, sometimes I react, the fear having pushed its way into the depths of my being. I’m getting better at treating myself with kindness and self-compassion each time that happens, although I find it challenging to accept myself when I’m anything other than my ideal self.
When I’m aware that I’ve been triggered by something that makes me afraid, I’m trying to remind myself of the essence of fear: False Expectations Appearing Real, and asking myself some questions about what I’m thinking in my head that is causing the fear, like “Is that true?”. What do you do with fear?
A related blog I wrote with Patrick Kozakiewicz: 4 Tips to Overcome Fear and Get Into Action
* I took this photo at Rozafa Castle, Skodra, Albania. (Rozafa castle is a castle near the city of Shkodër, in northwestern Albania that rises imposingly on a rocky hill, 130 metres above sea level, surrounded by the Bojana and Drin rivers. )