Do we ever know our way forward, completely? I seldom do. I’m always walking one step further into the darkness hoping it’s the right direction. When we are trying new things and taking risks – living into possibility, this is the landscape.
Martha Beck said, “Every leap into light starts as a leap in the dark.” That has been my experience. Stay tuned for a few words on living with faith – in yourself, in the force that guides you, in your possibility and mission. It changes the story completely.
Stories are our lives in language. Welcome to the Love Your Story podcast. I’m Lori Lee, and I’m excited for our future together of telling stories, evaluating our own stories, and lifting ourselves and others to greater places because of our control over our stories. This podcast is about empowerment and giving you, the listener, ideas to work with in making your stories work for you. Power serves you best when you know how to use it
Remember Hansel and Gretel? They didn’t know where they were headed, but they knew if they left a trail of bread crumbs they could solve their own problem. Yes, I realize that’s an interesting example since the birds end up eating their best-laid plans, but in the end, isn’t that usually how it goes? Life makes you move forward instead of letting you follow the trail back. And quite often it is in an unexpected way– walking into a dark forest, throwing out our best solutions as we move forward, like bread crumbs, and then things shift, the story gets more intense and doesn’t look like we expected. Here’s to the faith that in the end we’ll all push our personal witches into the oven and return home a hero, but let me point out a couple things – Hansel and Gretel had to walk into the woods to have their experience, even though it was traumatic, and of course they first had their desperate search for the trail that had vanished – we can relate to that when things change in our lives. In the end, they had to grasp hands and adapt or die, to put it bluntly. They had to move forward or stay stuck. They had to believe enough to drop the bread crumbs and move into the dark.
Let’s kick off this fun discussion with the most basic understanding that fear and faith are opposites.
If you believe the universe or God has your back and if you believe in yourself, the fear decreases. The more faith you have, the less fear dominates your thoughts and actions. This is important to understand because when you notice a high fear factor regarding something you’re trying to do you can stop for a moment and take stock of your faith around the given situation. You can decide where you stand and what needs to be adjusted.
I’ve noticed something about myself lately. I’ve noticed that whenever I take on something that I have not done before, that I constantly shove that thing to the bottom of my list of things to do. I’ll share some specific examples. Recently my podcast editor took a full-time position elsewhere which required me to find a new podcast editor. One of the things my old podcast editor did for me was to design the cover photos for each episode. Well, that’s not usually something podcast editors do apparently, and my new editor did not include that in his services, so I needed to figure out how to use photoshop so I could design my own cover photos. Something new I don’t know how to do. Because I wasn’t sure which was the best program (could I use a cheaper program) and then I didn’t know how to use the program, I kept pushing it down the list of things to do because it was a step into the dark that I didn’t know how to take. I see this pattern repeated often for me.
Example #2 – While I have 3 published books, all 3 have been published by publishers. They ask me to write the book. I write the book. Their editors edit, they design the layout, they distribute, they sell. They send me royalty checks. Well, I am working this year to put out the 21 LIFE Connection Challenges in book form. I’m excited about what this will mean and the great access it will give everyone to the challenges and creating their best life stories, but I’ve never gone through the self-publishing process before. I’m not sure how to design the layout of a book. I’m not sure about distribution. Because of this my work on this project is constantly relegated to the end of my list. I’ve done nothing in over 6 weeks.
So, I started noticing this pattern. When I don’t know my way forward I stall. Once I recognized the pattern I decided to change it. I could see my own fear and hesitation around stepping into the darkness, but I could also see that all that was required was to step into the darkness.
I started taking active steps to find people who could shed a light on what I didn’t know. This mindset shift of recognition and then action is the way I’m going to create action and douse fear.
Sometimes when we are facing a fear vs. faith situation it requires releasing old thought systems and surrender to new ways of being that are defined by an absolute belief in yourself and your ability to create, as well as in God, the universe, or the power that guides your life. Faith is a belief in things beyond what you can control, beyond what you can see or prove, beyond what you know – or in my case, beyond what I know how to do. But it’s that belief that is the precursor to creation and the shield against fear—the belief in what I’m creating. The belief in God’s support of my efforts. The belief in my ability to learn and do.
There is always choice. Choice for fear or choice for faith.
Let me share a story that impressed me about a man who chose faith year after year regarding who he was meant to be and what he was meant to do.
James Owens is a graphic artist, a cartoonist, a novelist. In his book Drawing out the Dragons he shares specific stories about his personal life, the choices that one at a time contributed to his massive success in the realms in which he flourishes. At 16 he was the youngest professional publisher ever to be an exhibitor at the San Diego Comic-Con. He was dedicated and persistent to his vision. Always believing despite the difficulty of succeeding at his chosen profession and art. The rest of his life, each decision to compromise or hold strong, was always based on the faith that he was meant to be a comic book artist. When he had no money to buy food and his home was being foreclosed on because his endeavors weren’t paying off, he still believed in himself, in his destiny, and at each turn he went to work, harder and harder until he had the meetings with the people he needed in order to accomplish what he wanted to accomplish. And did he do it, despite the dark days of unknowing? He most certainly did. What struck me about his story was his seeming unwavering faith and dedication to his dream. Let me share a small part of his story:
James had embarked on his dream of starting a comic book company. He was the creator and illustrator of his comics and so his hands were vital. Two issues into his series a woman takes a left turn in front of him and he is in an auto accident that smashes his right hand. At the hospital, the doctors examined his hand and said there was too much damage to do surgery, which would just increase scar tissue, so the best they could do was to put the bones back in place and then engage in therapy for a year. They told him he would have 30-40% of the use of his hand if he worked hard. He says, “For the second time that year I had a big decision to make. I had to decide how much I really wanted to do what I was doing because according to the doctors my career as an artist was all but over. For my part, I believed something different. I believed that if you really want to do something, no one can stop you, but if you really don’t want to do something, no one can help you. As he sat there with his hand in a brace from his fingertips to his elbow, he announced he was going to rehabilitate his hand, heal completely and then pick up where he’d left off with issue three of StarChild. He said everyone in the world decided I was wrong. The doctors, friends, family and a few curious patients all gathered around him and applauded his optimism and attitude, but they insisted he needed to be realistic. He proved them all wrong.
His book is called: Drawing out the Dragons–A beginner’s guide to making choices that matter. I think choosing faith is a choice that matters because it’s the choice that determines whether you move forward and the kind of power you have behind you. I’m not just talking about faith in a career path here. His story is just an example of keeping a vision and determination with anything in your life. Maybe it’s choosing faith over fear as you battle with depression, an eating disorder or an addiction. Maybe it’s faith over fear that God has your back. Maybe it’s faith over fear that you can be a good parent. Maybe it’s faith over fear that you can support your family. It’s different for all of us.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
And, Martha Beck, the internationally renowned life coach, one of my favorites, said, “Anyone who embraces the mender’s way of life must proceed through continual, infinite, breathtaking leaps of faith. Each time you face an unknown future with creativity rather than grasping at known quantities, you leap. Each time you dare to believe your art can sustain you financially, you leap. Each time you trust your tribe of menders, you leap. Each time you embrace a love that lays you bare in body, heart, or soul, you leap. And whenever you begin to disbelieve in yourself, your destiny, your ability to heal some part of the world, you must leap instead into the branches of magic.”
In the book Rise of Superman by Steve Kotler, he tackles the relationship between imagination and physical possibility. He quotes psychologist Michael Gervais, “you have to understand that the brain tells stories. When most hear about an impossible feat – the sub-four-minute mile; the MegaRamp 1080 – our first reaction is: ‘Not real, no way, not possible.’ But we have a strong need to make meaning out of experience and this new reality forces us to change our story. We move to, ‘That’s crazy, far out, unreal.’ Pretty soon, we accept this new reality and shift our paradigm further and this engages the imagination. We start imagining the impossible as possible. What does impossible feel like, sound like, look like? And then we start to be able to see ourselves doing the impossible –that’s the secret. There is an extremely tight link between our visual system and our physiology: once we can actually see ourselves doing the impossible, our chances of pulling it off increase significantly.”
Proven, over and over, that once a threshold is passed by someone, others, now realizing it’s possible, push past that threshold with increased speed and frequency, it’s impossible to deny the power of belief in the ability to accomplish a thing. Someone just has to believe enough to push past the limitation, and suddenly the rest of the world can follow.
George Lucas said, “You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.” This ode to persistence is based on faith. We don’t keep walking into the dark forest unless we believe we have a shot at surviving. This is hope, this is faith, this is persistent action that creates results.
Our lives are less about what is going on around us, and more about what is going on inside us. We create the meaning that events have to us. Do we create that meaning around faith or around fear? That’s an important question because the answer will determine very different outcomes.
Fear isn’t going anywhere. It’s maybe the most common negative human emotion we all share. But there is good news. Courage can become a habit. The way to combat fear is to make a mindset shift. This shift doesn’t mean that fear disappears, it means that your faith in yourself, your ability, your support, your god, outlives the fear that tries to shut you down. It means you believe, and so you do, and your hope and your faith becomes action and then things really start cookin’.
For me, this shift happened when I was surrounded by coaches telling me not to rip the world off. I was surprised how much fear popped up every day when I started creating this podcast. There were fears I didn’t even know I had. It became a daily reckoning – each day I would end up finding a new fear and I’d have to push past it. We’ve talked about being in the arena and getting dirty – being the hero – this is the mental space where you are fighting your dragons. This is the space where you step onto the dark forest path overhung with vines and spooky noises, but you step onto the path anyway. This is the part of the story where you enter the lair of the antagonist to steal back the jewel of your own ability. This is the high stakes space of beating out the shadows of your own mind.
Remember what Emerson said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
I want to leave this topic with one final thought – what do you think about the idea of the faith we show in others gives them additional power and the faith that other’s show in us buoys and supports us in our forward movement. This seems perhaps obvious – we all like to be supported, but I wonder if there isn’t a real power behind this – faith is a power, but I think it’s also a power that can be shared. A combined faith may create an exponential power behind it. So maybe, just maybe, we can start thinking about lending our own faith and support to others as they embark on their challenges, large and small, and help push one another up the next mountain.
Thanks for listening in today. I hope you’ve found even just one take-away that will propel you forward with faith along your own path – faith is the power to overcome fear. The power behind forward movement. Believe in you, in your story, in a Universe that has your back.
Quick plug for the website – loveyourstorypodcast.com – it’s got all the 120+ episodes that you can listen to and share. It’s got on-line courses – the 21 LIFE Connection Challenges for creating possibility and connection in your life and the 5-Steps to reframing old stories that hold you back. You can also buy your Love Your Story t-shirts there.
Thanks for being a part of the audience. Keep up the great work and this week your challenge is to push past just one fear. Just one fear!
See you next week.