If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.

fearless‘Be gentle, truthful and fearless.’ – Gandhi

What are you frightened of? Anything that stops you living your life to the full, whether it’s fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the future can all impact on your life. Yet it is possible to overcome that detrimental negative thinking. You may never be completely fearless but you can learn to break out of your comfort-zone and find the freedom to take your life to a new level.

‘If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.’ –  Dalai Lama

Abandoned by my mother at an early age, I grew to avoid making anything other than superficial relationships. Whilst I longed for love and connection, there was the possibility that I would be discarded. Accepting this as a truth, my dread of rejection progressed to a deeper level to a fear of attachment.

Unfortunately my father reinforced an even more deep-rooted fear in me. His abusive and dysfunctional words and behaviour towards me installed the conviction that I wasn’t good enough. Not for anything or for anybody. He manipulated my perception to the point that I was not only ashamed of whom I was but of who I thought I would become.

The reality as I progressed into adulthood was that I was terrified of being ‘me’ at every level. I wanted to speak up but I was frightened of being heard. I wanted to reveal my personality but I was frightened of being seen. I wanted to love, but I was frightened of being loved.

‘Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support.’ ~ Brené Brown

As the years passed, so did my spiral into depression and alcoholism. Both however reinforced my sense of blame and inadequacy. And whilst on the outside I wore a mask of happiness, confidence and fearlessness, inwardly I lived with terror that gripped my mind, body and soul.

Of course I never asked for help because I was too flawed, too damaged and too unlovable, to allow anyone into my imperfect world. Consequently it wasn’t until I hit absolute physical and mental rock-bottom that others intervened to save me from myself.

Once of the greatest challenges I faced when I started on my journey to recovery was to let other people to nurture, comfort and guide me. For me, asking for support was to reveal my complete failure as a human being. But how wrong I was. For I learned that by reaching out, I not only found the way to move on from my past insecurities but I gained courage and strength in the process. Yet really it all began with a cry for help.

‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’                     ~2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

So if you’re battling with an inner voice that consistently criticises and demeans, be encouraged. Just as you have been brain-washed to listen only to the negative, so too can you bring those dark thoughts into the light, confront them for what they are and develop an encouraging and fearless mentality. 

For me, it was easier to look to my faith to provide the support that I needed so badly. For it wasn’t simply my body and mind that were broken, but my spirit and soul. The gentle breath of faith helped me to heal from within, and remains with me today.

if you're afraid to do it, do it afraidRecovery has taken many years and although I do still experience the sensation of fear, it no longer controls me through depression and alcoholism. I do indeed have a sound mind, a vibrant spirit and a compassionate soul. They form the basis of my ability to love and be loved. That is power.

If you’re captive of your past, living with an anxiety-filled present or dreading the future, then learning how to live fearlessly will set you free.

And if you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid!

‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.’ ~ Mark Twain.

Freedom.

Sagittarius gallery one“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.” 
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Would you say you are free? Or do you crave to break out of your life? Freedom is something I often take for granted. Of course there are restrictions imposed by my domestic or work situation, but generally I can travel where I choose, I can read what I want, listen to the music I enjoy, practice my faith – all without fear. Many around the world can barely imagine such privileges. But whilst I accept these liberties as usual in my life, the opposite can be said for my personal freedom. Being able to live my life as the person I was meant to be is something I appreciate and cherish daily.

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

I wake up and am glad that I am alive. For anyone who has never experienced a deep depression, waking up each day is not an issue. But my depression took me to suicidal depths that held me trapped for many years – fearful, hopeless, stuck with past memories, fighting a daily battle to simply exist. So to find myself living a life of joy, expectancy, enthusiasm and creativity is an existence that I could only have previously dreamed.

I wake up without the need for a drink. For anyone who drinks socially or is teetotal from choice that is no big deal. But alcoholism controlled me physically and mentally for many years. So to be able enjoy sobriety and reap the incredible rewards it brings is a  breakthrough that I could only have previously coveted.

Both the freedom from acute depression and addiction are something that I have received for many years. Never do I take them for granted. They are something I thank God for, thank my family for and thank my friends for every single day of my life.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:32

It’s through my bondage that I have found my release. It’s by enduring the trials that I have found the solutions.  It’s by confronting my personal truth that I have found my authentic self.

When you are feeling trapped and weak it is hard to imagine freedom. If you are the grip of victim mentality, it is practically impossible to feel empowered. But whatever the restraints of your situation and however hard it is to change what goes in your physical world, you are still a unique being. How you react and how you feel inside are choices that have within you. Choices that will encourage and expand your personal freedom.

sagittarius gallery twoMy journey of self-discovery meant facing truths that hurt. With the comfort and restoration of faith I dealt with the pain. I allowed myself to start walking in freedom.  Freedom to accept myself for who and what I was. Freedom to say ‘Yes’ when I wanted and ‘No’ when I didn’t. Freedom to accept my  mistakes and to celebrate my successes. Freedom to love and be loved.

Freedom to be me.

What does freedom mean to you?

Images thanks to the wonderfully talented Aja of the Sagittarius Gallery at http://www.etsy.com/shop/SagittariusGallery And many thanks to Val Andrews  Escape Artist who’s blog regularly inspires me to consider and revere my freedom.

Fearless and free.

soar“If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.” Life can be scary. Change can be terrifying. But fear can restrict and overwhelm to the point that your life isn’t your own.

If you’re captive of your past, living with an anxiety-filled present or dreading the future, then learning how to live fearlessly will set you free.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”  Mark Twain.

Anyone who has experienced an abusive relationship will know what it is like to be living in fear. Whether it’s physically, verbally or mental abuse, you learn to anticipate and react in a certain way. And when your worst fears are realised, you are made to believe it was your fault and you become uneasy of ‘the next time’.

Similarly, low self-esteem can make facing new situations, people or places a source of trepidation. Your mind fills with every negative scenario and statement imaginable. And this can spiral into a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure and rejection.

“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” Eleanor Roosevelt

As a child, my abandoning mum and my abusing dad had ensured that I learnt to never truly trust, attach or love anyone. I grew into adulthood believing everyone had the potential to harm me in some way or another. Alcohol gave me the courage to not care if, or more often, when they did.

My addiction was a direct result of not just an extreme apprehension of others but of an unnatural mistrust of myself. Complete lack of self-worth meant that I would do anything to numb the feelings of inadequacy. Convinced that my values, instincts and intelligence were inferior to everyone else fed into my foreboding of defeat and ridicule.

Whether real or imagined, fear controlled my life and my life was out of control.

“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Confronting my addiction and starting on the path to recovery was quite simply the most terrifying period of my life. It meant redefining my concept of fear and changing my perception of myself and others. And that wasn’t an easy choice to make, but it was totally necessary if I was going to be free to live my life as the person I was meant to be.

I worked hard to develop the courage to accept, trust and love myself. But as I did I was able to find the strength to confront and challenge fear. I would remind myself “If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.”flower

It doesn’t mean that I don’t get scared. In fact I’m still a cautious person who finds it hard to take risks. And everyday situations like meeting new people still make me nervous. But I am no longer captive to fear and its negative consequences.

Today I don’t fight the fear. I welcome it in the form of excitement and anticipation. I rise above it and use it as motivation. I go through it and come out the other side stronger.

For me that is living a life fearless and free. What about you? Are you fearless and free?

Top image: The Courage to Soar thanks to 3 Wishes Creations  http://www.etsy.com/shop/3WishesCreations