You must burn, burn higher.
Because nothing in this world will kill you faster
than a dying fire.
– Mia Hollow –
When people say they’re afraid of something, for example elevators, what they’re really afraid of is the feeling they have when they’re in the elevator.
Another example is flying – what they’re afraid of is not being able to get out, the sensation of turbulence, the sense of not being in control, or any other variation of internal experience.
Sometimes the bad feelings are associated with people. For some, the internal experience when others try to connect and get closer is so unpleasant that they either avoid people altogether, or more commonly, they try whatever strategy they can to reduce the impact of the other person’s presence to a degree they feel comfortable with.
These overwhelming internal experiences are usually the result of trauma – an experience that was not only deeply unpleasant but one that we were not able to respond to adequately at the time.
The energy our body provided us with to respond to the danger was not able to be utilised, and so it stays trapped within, triggering us each time something reminds us of the original danger.
The solution to these fears is not to take the stairs or the train, since it’s not the external trigger we’re actually afraid of. Instead we need to find ways to have a different internal experience of these situations.
We do this by gradually unfreezing the trapped energy, which helps rebuild our capacity to experience negative feelings without shutting down. In this way we are no longer so overwhelmed with discomfort that we need to retreat. Instead we can remain present with uncomfortable feelings.
The same goes for connecting with others. If you’re around people this holiday season who want you to dim your light in order for them to feel comfortable around you, please resist. You are not responsible for managing their fears.
All this does is diminish your expression of your own experience, and reinforce their diminished capacity to feel.
If like me, you spent a lot of your early life around people who were shut down, being in their company would have required you to turn your light down so far that it almost went out.
Even if we do this, we can still be viewed as the cause of others’ discomfort. In reality this discomfort comes from the sensations they experience when being forced out of shutdown through connecting and bonding with you.
In my case, instead of seeking help to deal with the trauma that originally created this overwhelm, these people banished me instead. This is something that often happens in families as well as couples.
For a long time I also thought the problem was me. I became shut down myself, because my light seemed to blind others. I was too much for them so I became invisible, but then I wasn’t enough for anyone else.
But I did seek help, and I came to see that my capacity for strong connections, my ability to feel deeply, was a good thing. I just needed to find people who were comfortable with this, with whom I could reignite my fire because their own fires were burning bright.
This is the hero’s journey, the descent into the dark to find your treasure and your tribe. There is no path to follow, although there are guides and mentors to light the way.
There are also fire-breathing dragons. Becoming your own hero takes immense courage and a willingness to face the fire. It’s how we live life to the full, even when it hurts, even when it scares us, even when our voices shake.
Remember that all the feelings are holy. All have something to teach you, if you can listen. Let them be and they will light up your own unique path out of the wilderness.
I hope to witness your flames leaping in 2017. ❤