“Feeling emotional upheaval is not a spiritual faux pas; it’s the place where the warrior learns compassion.”
–Pema Chödrön, From The Places That Scare You
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Heard a story on NPR today about exposure therapy—a guy who had paralyzing anxiety of rejection set out to GET rejected, over and over, until it no longer frightened him— and it worked for him. It made so much sense. He faced his fears until they stopped scaring him silly.
I guess that is what I am doing, though I hadn’t thought of it quite that way. Exposure therapy. I have been delving into dark places lately (no, no—not all the time, that would be crazy!) and the more I look at things inside that are scary and just ‘be’ with them, the more I appreciate their beautiful powerful forces and the less scared I feel. Rejecting part of yourself takes a lot of energy. It makes you worn down. I wonder if the denial of dark things inside is what creates some cases of chronic anxiety? My overall anxiety level certainly is ebbing as I dig. (But also: spiking like mad as I hit uncharted tunnels.)
Digging it all up is a messy process. I’m not all that great at it, a lot of times. I get stuck sometimes. A lot of times. I thrash and make it needlessly worse. I grasp. But I’m hoping I’ll get better at being with it when it comes, unexpectedly. Because it’s the fear you have to fear. Like the guy who was afraid of rejection. He wrapped his brain in a new direction. Away from fear, into acceptance of something that scared him. So hopeful, stories like his.
Like anything else, it takes practice. All any of us can do is keep trudging!
Per aspera ad astra. (A rough road leads to the stars).