Today I figured out that there is good fear and bad fear.
First a word on emotions. I learned all my life that emotions are bad, they make people uncomfortable, and when you feel them you should just go away. Not a good thing, no? Imagine my welcoming surprise to find out that emotions are energy. In motion. E+motion = Energy in Motion. Sweet, eh? Every emotion — anger, sadness, joy and fear — has a reason for being. Like superheroes, they swoop in to protect us.
Fear is the emotion that comes up when we sense a threat. It’s helpful. Like when you are far from your cave and you smell tigers. Fear tells you to take action to protect yourself. You get quiet. You clench your spear more tightly. You take a different path back to your cave. You tell your clan there are tigers nearby. All those things are fear in action. That’s the good kind of fear.
The bad kind of fear is when you run shrieking into the closet. Or you just run around screaming in general. Or you pace relentlessly. Or you turn your fear into anger at every little thing the person you love does. Suddenly the sound of your beloved chewing or the way she closes the door or sings in the shower (these are all hypothetical) sends eight inch spikes into your brain and causes your face to turn funny colors and your mouth to say words that your heart doesn’t mean.
There has been way more of the bad kind of fear around here lately. You know our natural response to fear, fight, flight, or freeze? I’ve seen all of them in action this week. Fight can be good but turns you into an anger ball if not managed well. Flight just sends you shrieking into the closet. And freeze turns you into a gooey puddled mass on the floor, unable to do anything. My response is usually paralysis — the puddled mass of goo.
Fear is understandable right now.
Medical science looks at me and then looks away uncomfortably, sighing grim statistics. There isn’t much help for melanoma. So responding to the fear and being concerned — that’s putting it mildly — and taking action are good things.
Being shaken to one’s core and making mindful, radical shifts — that’s even better. That’s letting fear help you take decisive action. Yay.
This is what I am doing to use fear as an ally, not a paralyzer
It’s easy to fear what you don’t know. But arming yourself with knowledge gives courage. I’ve spent hours researching both the medical model of melanoma treatment and all the alternative treatments out there. I love the internet.
Fear creates urgency. Urgency is good when you might be dying. I know way more now about melanoma treatments now than I would have without fear as an ass-kicker. Consequently, I can make better choices.
A little breath helps with perspective. I am much more motivated to do things like breathe now that fear is close.
Writing, blogging, talking to soulmate and talking to friends. I am not much good at keeping things bottled up inside. When I try, the things inside just get out of control. I need perspective. Writing and talking helps me work through my thoughts and feel less alone.
I’ve always been an expresser but now my expression has purpose, or context, that it didn’t have before. I am not the first person (nor the last) to be walking this path of healing with cancer. I can use fear to motivate me to write in a way that might help other people down the road.
We hold emotions in the body. Fear goes to the kidneys. Mine are taxed enough as it is. When I do qiqong or other martial arts forms, some of that stored (stuck) energy releases and I feel better. I was already committed to martial arts but you can bet that I am 20 times as committed now.
5. Life purpose.
My guess is that people think they should leave me alone now and let me heal, thinking that I have less time and energy to work, but we all just curl up and die when we don’t live our passion and purpose. My purpose is helping other people come alive so they can live their purpose. My work energizes me. I feel purposeful. We all need that to live well.
Knowing that every day, every moment, counts way more now is a great motivator. My work takes on greater meaning because of the fear that sits close.
6. Looking for magic.
Soon I’ll write about how I think I lost my magic way back, but right now my focus is finding it again. Somewhere there is a place, just off to the left maybe from where I am now, where things flow and I feel connected and Right. I haven’t lived there in a while and I miss it greatly. I believe my magic is a big piece of my healing. Fear makes it that much more important to find. Not only does the magic place feel wonderful, but I think it is what brings me alive.