Jim Morrison…you’ve got to love him. Not only was he excruciatingly gorgeous with a voice and stage presence that could melt the polar ice caps, but he said some pretty brilliant shit as well. We may never know if it was the many hits of acid speaking or if it really was his Indian spirit guide, but whatever the source of his words, they were undeniably insightful and still hold impact and validity today. How many times have you caught yourself gripped in the ruthless hands of fear?
We live in a society that is largely ruled by fear. From the time that we are born we are conditioned to be afraid of things. Some of it is necessary to our survival, such as not touching the stove or sticking a fork in the electrical socket, but many of the other things that we are taught to be afraid of can thwart our growth in so many ways. We are taught largely to listen to others which causes fear of our own inner voice. We are taught to follow the norms of society which can lead us to fear the decision to carve out our own authentic paths and follow our dreams. We are taught to compare ourselves to others, which births the fear of never being enough within ourselves. We are taught to fear being without material possessions, which causes feelings of greed within us. We are taught to fear the things/people/places which we do not fully understand, which can prevent us from educating ourselves about the different cultures, religions, races, sexual orientations and physical landscapes that surround us in this amazingly diverse world. In short, our fear begins to shape us from our initial breaths on this Earth and continues to shape shift as we experience the world. But what if we could change that? What if we could look closely at our fears…stare them straight in the face, stand up boldly and move bravely into them? What is the worst that would actually happen?
Take a moment to think back on all of the things you have been afraid of in your life and write them down. We’re going to use them in a minute. Yeah, I know, it’s a big list, right? When I think back on my fears what I notice is a progression. When I was in my early 20’s I had been through some terrible relationships (I mean like surrrrrrrrrrriously, abusively bad) and I swore I was done dating. Then I met Josh. I was terrified of him because I knew I really liked him. Then he asked me to marry him and I became afraid of that. What if it didn’t work out? Then we got married and decided to get pregnant…new biggest fear as my belly expanded and my whole world threatened to change. Eight and a half months pregnant, we found our first home, closing ten days prior to the birth of our son…#freakingout. Here comes Jacob…motherhood became the thing I feared the most because I had no idea how to do it. Then Josh lost his job. New mortgage, new baby, no job…does it get more terrifying? I swore we were doomed…until Josh decided to start his own business (which of course scared the crap out of us both as well). Suddenly, another baby was on the way. Jocelyn was born and I quit my job to stay at home with them…this became the scariest decision of my life, but I did it anyway. This progression continued on and on, presenting me with new fears along the way, until finally one day, I realized that it wasn’t the situations themselves that were terrifying me, but my reaction to them. I started to look back at this long laundry list of fear I had been carrying around with me and realized that as each new fear had arisen and I had moved through it, the fear for that particular event had dissipated and morphed into a new fear. It dawned on me that there will always be things to be afraid of, but it is up to me whether or not I let the fear have control. I have a choice in each situation to square up against my fear and challenge it, and so do you.
I am happy to report that moving through my personal fear has led me to a 10-year (this July) marriage to my best friend and the most amazing guy I know, 2 kick-ass little kids who challenge me to grow, expand and be a better person each day, a beautiful home that is my sanctuary, my husband and I each owning our own business and the fortitude to keep moving through fear as it shows up. That’s important to acknowledge by the way…I still get afraid. All the time actually. Life isn’t always sunshine and butterflies. My husband and I argue, my kids can act like little shits, my home needs repairs and our businesses fluctuate through good and bad times (and the bad times can be REALLY scary), but we keep on keeping on anyway, moving forward with the knowledge that this too shall pass and that we can look our fears in the face and move on anyway.
So where does fear show up for you? Go back to your list. If you didn’t write it, do it now. Take a close look at all of these places that fear has popped up in your life from as early as you can think of. First off, see if you notice any patterns. Are your fears largely based around one particular area? Money? Relationships? Your Career? Self-esteem? Now, notice any of these situations where you faced your fear and moved forward anyway? What was the outcome? If you haven’t had the opportunity to face any of these fears, guess what today is? That’s right, your opportunity. You don’t have to dive in headfirst, but think of a way that you can start to move into your fear slowly. If your fear is primarily surrounding relationships, maybe today is the day you finally make that online dating profile (don’t worry…you don’t have to go live until tomorrow). If your self-esteem is taking the hit, maybe today is the day to buy the dress you’ve always wanted, even though your head screams that you’re not feminine enough to pull it off. Tomorrow, rock it. Each day take baby steps to move into your fear. You will likely find that the further you go, the less powerful it becomes.
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We were a few weeks into my Yoga Teacher Training, the whole lot of us shimmying around periodically on mats and blankets and bolsters in an effort to bring feeling back into our asses. It felt like the 10-hour long Saturdays, most of them spent sitting on the studio floor, were starting to wear my sit bones down to bloody stumps, but there was literally NOWHERE I would have rather been. I loved reading, listening and writing about this amazing, potentially 10,000 year old tradition. I loved deciphering the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras. I loved bending my body into shapes I didn’t know existed and challenging it in ways I never would have thought to do so. Most of all, I loved experimenting with all of the exercises that forced me to experience the mind, body, breath connection ingrained within us all. Learning about the ways that our bodies hold our past experiences and how this energy gets trapped within us…I was hooked. It was this night, sitting in this cozy studio among my fellow seekers, fully engrossed in listening to my teacher, Scott Feinberg, that he said the three words that I have revisited time and time again since, that truly changed my life. “Own Your Bigness!”
I had spent the past 15 years or so struggling to find my place, dealing with divorced parents, a tragic accident at a young age, a move to Florida, several abusive relationships, a bumpy ride with recreational drugs, and then the transitions into adulthood as I got married, bought a home and had two children. I struggled with motherhood, constantly questioning my right to these two amazing souls who had come to me. I found myself quieter, more withdrawn and really fighting to maintain my self esteem. I battled with depression on and off, and only began to remedy it when I found yoga. For whatever reason, as I sat here this Saturday, these three words struck a nerve in me like nothing else ever had. My bigness? Shit, did I have any of that left? I know I used to have bigness. I used to own the crap out of it! Where did it go and was it really, as he was suggesting, possible to get it back just by owning it? How does one go about owning their bigness and if there’s a course on it…where the hell do I sign up?
I began to use these words as my mantra, repeating them to myself over and over and over again every single time I was faced with a challenge. “Own it, Jillian. Own your bigness. Nobody else is going to own it for you.” At first it felt a little fake and forced, but the more I said it, the more it grew inside of me. It continued to blossom through the rest of my training until it was REALLY put to the test the day I taught my first real yoga class. I must have said that phrase in my head 400 million times as I stood outside the studio door trying to catch my breath and not faint in front of my students. I thought for certain I would throw up or lose my words or die of embarrassment as I crossed the threshold and took my place at the front of the class. Go figure, I actually survived that day and have gone on to enjoy teaching. Can you believe it? I couldn’t even fathom it at the time.
So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, these three words started a new pattern in my head…a new way of thinking, which has led to a whole new way of life for me. These three words have allowed me to continue on my path and have moved me in the direction I’m pointed now, life coaching with others to teach them how to break down their own thought patterns and create something new and fresh and beautiful, beyond their past experiences. These three words have taught me that being our own biggest cheerleader is the most important and heartfelt gift we can give, not only to ourselves, but to those around us. When we can learn to allow ourselves to own our own bigness…no, not just allow…INSIST that we do it, we are offering our best self to those around us as well. Suddenly our limitations start to fall away as we connect to this powerhouse of energy, love, possibility and bravery within us. The coolest part is that we ALL have it. It’s not limited to the super rich or mega popular or the extremely good looking. It’s only limited to us if we allow it to be.
The best part about all of this for me? Well, I’ve gotten to pair up my love of inspiring this excitement and truth in others with my love for the mind, body, breath connection. Working with the Chakra system (the main energy centers in the body where we store emotions and experiences), I have been able to use a 12-week program written by my teacher, Amy Lombardo, to help my clients navigate the areas in their own lives where they may not be owning their bigness. I have watched transformation after beautiful transformation. I have witnessed intense releases of past hurts and that moment where something becomes fully clear within you. I have seen my clients grow beyond their own limitations and far exceed their own assumptions of what they were capable of. It has been beautiful, liberating, humbling and eye opening for me, and keeps me a student even as I progress on my path as a teacher. It seems that just at that moment where I’m starting to doubt my own bigness again, I watch something amazing happen and I am reminded of all that is possible when we believe in ourselves. If you had asked me once what I thought I would be doing for a living, I never could have foreseen this, and I couldn’t ask for more.
So teach the class, stand up and tell that idea you think is too stupid to share, apply for the job you want, take a leap of faith, ask him/her out on a date…and BELIEVE in yourself. Own your bigness, because nobody else can do it for you.
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