The Super Power of Shifting Our Attention
...and how it can help us work thorugh fear.
In one of the first posts I wrote for this embodied empowerment challenge I talked about the power of shifting our awareness. Y'all do not sleep on this mindfulness skill.
Shifting your awareness is a fucking SUPER POWER.
One that can help us move through, or learn to work with fear.
How so? Well, what's fear if not a habitual pattern of placing our attention on the stories our mind tells us about all the bad things that could happen if we (insert the blank)
Maybe you've heard this one too?
Album Title: "Think About How Bad it Will Be If You..."
It has all the tunes! Smash hits like:
...travel too far from home...
...venture outside your comfort zone...
...leave that job...
...end that relationship...
...dismantle social norms...
...say yes to the unknown...
...leave behind old parts of yourself...
...get too big for your britches...
...grow a big head...
...really give it your all...
Okay, but how does shifting my awareness help me work through fear?
Short answer: it allows you to answer one very important question.
Is this fear my body telling me I'm in danger, or my mind telling me stories about negative future outcomes?
This isn't my own breakthrough realization, but something I picked up from Arno Ilgner's book Rock Warrior's Way. In it, he explores the "way of the warrior." Or, in my language I might call warrior-praxis. But... in a nature-loving peaceful rock-climber kinda of warrior way.
Even if you're not a rock climber the book is still worth reading.
Same goes for the other book that might actually be the one where I got that from. Another book about rock climbing, fear, and sports psychology called Vertical Mind.
It's late, and the precise resource isn't really the point here. Though, I'm happy to pull up references if that would be of service to you / y'all. Just ask!
Anywho. Why not read 'em both!?!
Imho, any work that can facilitate our ability to slow down what's happening inside our mind enough to act with a little bit more agency? That my friends is motherfucking gold!
I won't wax long about rock climbing because I want for many of these posts to be closer to 500 words and not 1,500+. At least not all the time.
If you want a medium-length answer is this: in my experience, shifting our attention can help us to work with/through fear because when we're not in danger and it's "merely" our minds playing us disaster porn in our heads, shifting our attention is usually all we need to do to let go of the fear.
Whereas, when our bodies are desperate to avert mortal peril?
Shifting our attention might help us to figure out how to get out of danger, but it doesn't make the body's danger alarm go away.
If you are here for the sprawling plains of occassionally poetic prose and actually want the long answer...
- May the Muses bless you.
- You can read an essay I wrote about my year working to overcome my fear of heights (through rock climbing) as an act of planetary magic and celestial spirit devotion. Tomorrow, when I post Jupiter in Pisces and Achieving Flow State: The Importance of Trusting Your Feet, and Relaxing Your Grip into the "archives."
What I Want You to Take Away From This Post
There's a difference between danger and fear! And if you'd like to know just what that is there's someone you can ask any minute of any day -- YOUR BODY!
Question of the Day: What was the last fear your faced? When, how, why, where, and with whom? What were the circumstances that lead you to making that decision (or finding yourself in the position) to face one of your fears?
Challenge of the Day: Face a small, low-consequence fear. The more stressed and precarious your life has been the gentler and sillier I hope your challenge will be.
Silly Version: sing out loud while walking down the street. Or, show a trusted friend an awkward childhood photo.
Solid: Make yourself a list of 5 actions that would be self-contained (i.e., things unlikely to have far reaching known-on consequences) where your level of fear is palpable. Vet the items on your list for appropriateness and all the other good harm-reducing, self-caring, and ya know regular reality safety-check concerns. Determine 1 - 3 that you'd be able to find a safe context/container for facing within the next year. Pick one you know intellectually is well within your means to approach and interact with. One that you know you have the skills/support necessary to process and integrate the experience afterwards.
Serious version: Do you have a fear that you feel afraid to acknowledge as a fear? Ya know, like some part of your knows you're afraid of the possibility of success but you're afraid of what would happen if you really allowed that awareness to sink in? Face the fear of naming a feared fear to yourself.
Bonus: try saying that 5 times fast!
Tomorrow I'll be exploring a technique and a tool for making a habit out of leveraging your ability to shift your awareness. I'll even share with you how I used it to help me work through my fear of heights with rock climbing!
As always, I hope these words find and serve you well.
If there's any way I can be of service to you in creating opportunities for grounded growth or embodied empowerment, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com; or, book a session at: bearryver.as.me
Until tomorrow, friends.
For those of you who care about the stats:
This is post 5/5.
Time from draft to publish was: 2h 30m
Obstacle/fear/barrier(s) overcome: slow pace of words emergeing, and it still counts at the stroke of midnight, right?
*If you found your way here from my accidentally sending the blog post to the rare newsletter, oopsies.
For those of you wondering what the stats are about, you read about my Daily Embodied Empowerment Challenge here.