008. How To Get To Know Your Fear
What color is your fear?!
Yes, I know I just asked a weird question and yet, it’s one of my favorite questions to ask. Why? Because I think of getting to know our internal world like the movie The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy starts out in dry and dreary Kansas where the world is black and white. Color comes to her when she is taken up into a tornado and dropped into the land of Oz.
Dorothy comes to meet the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man, all representing the different parts of ourselves.
There’s the part that’s like the Scarecrow and questions, “AM I SMART?"
There’s the part that’s like the Lion and questions, “AM I SPECIAL?"
There’s the part that’s like the Tin Man and questions, “AM I GOOD?"
When those questions come up or are at the very least triggered, our emotions can turn into a tornado that wreaks all sorts of havoc and takes all sorts of energy.
Our emotions don’t need to be the Wicked Witch of the West…they will not get us and eat us if we know how to engage with them using CURIOSITY INSTEAD OF CONTEMPT.
All of this can start with slowing the process down. When I’m feeling afraid, I can ask myself, “What color is my fear?” That gets me using a different part of my brain and I can get to know my fear, instead of it owning me! Whenever I’m really afraid, my fear is usually the color green. Not a good green, but a gross green like the icky, slimy kind that I would see in cartoons growing up.
Just that tidbit gives me lots of insight.
First, I feel stuck in my fear.
Secondly, I feel really young in my fear.
Thirdly, fear is making me want to crawl out of my skin.
So what do I do then?
I’ll usually start with putting my hands over my heart and taking some deep breaths to ground myself. I’ll talk to myself in the way a parent talks to her kid when the kiddo is really upset. If there’s time and space, I’ll try to walk around outside to not feel so stuck and get some different perspectives.
That usually doesn’t take the fear completely away, but it certainly dissipates the part of my fear that feels overwhelming and like it’s going to eat me alive.
The whole process of slowing myself down is similar to discovering the Great Big Powerful Oz is really just a little man behind a curtain. My fear wants me to think it’s really big and powerful because it wants to keep me safe and small.
Once the hype has calmed down (this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days) it’s just me and my fear standing next to each other like two middle schoolers at a dance. I am able to see with greater clarity that the part of me that get’s really afraid is also the part of me that really wants to be loved or really wants to be seen as good enough.
Compassion kicks in and I’m able to see what parts of my story are being evoked from this situation and then I get to spend time reminding myself of the truth of who I am and I can care for the parts of me that need more attention and tenderness.
Yes, it might have taken a whole lot of fear to get me there, but it’s in that place of acceptance, kindness, and gentleness that I can put my hands over my heart and say, “There’s no place like home.”
Consider using these questions as journal prompts. Give yourself the gift of 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to spend processing these questions and what they might be bringing up in you.
What color is your fear? Describe in detail.
What might your fear be telling you?
When was the first time you remember feeling really afraid?
Which of the three questions, “Am I smart?”, “Am I special?”, or “Am I good?” do you find yourself asking the most?
What truths might you need to hear today?