Friday September 16, 2011I attended The 5th Annual Gregg Gilder Memorial Firewalk at Common Ground in Oberlin. This event focused on facing fears, overcoming fears and "reaching potential for greatness".
I have a lot of fears. Over the last year, I have overcome many of these fears or at least I have faced them head on. This experience reiterated many of the things I have been learning and researching over the last year and I also learned new things.
The most fascinating piece of information I walked away with is that we have 2 REAL fears. That's it- everything else is LEARNED! The first real fear is a fear of falling. The second real fear is of loud noise. Every single fear besides those two is learned. The example that was provided by the speaker really stood out with me. The speaker explained how our fears are learned. He provided the example using people's fear of spiders. As a baby you were playing on your blanket on the floor and this cute little spider appeared. You- the baby- thought, "oh wow look at this cute little thing". The spider began crawling up your arm and you were thinking, "wow, a new friend, I want to play", nothing negative was happening, you were happy that this cute little thing joined you and was playing with. you making you giggle. THEN your mother walked in and started screaming and screeching "OH MY GOD!" She yelled! "NO NO NO" She yelled! You immediately were startled and began crying. BAM! Your innocent behavoir, playing with a furry little spider became a terrifying event reinforced by your mother's negative reaction. Ever since then you've been scared of spiders! Wow!
You may or may not remember the moment that your fear developed. Your subconscious is very powerful and as illustrated above , your brain starts imprinting early in life.
Dave, the speaker, also focused on positive thinking which was a reinforcement of my readings of Echart Tolle, The Secret and several other books. In fact I believe that religions such as Buddhism are also centered on positivity. I have been practicing this over the last year and I'm starting to understand this "thought process". Our minds are very powerful.
During my races I started using mantras- I have used, "I am strong, I feel great". During the race I want my brain to know that I physically feel great and can keep going and I also want my brain to know that I am strong and can do anything. When my brain knows this- it's transferred to my body and I do feel great and I do feel strong. I have started using this idea outside of races and in life. Whenever I feel negative thoughts coming on, I start to repeat in my head, " I am beautiful, I am smart, I am happy". I have dozens of different mantras to use for different situations or even before I go to bed. Believe it, you will feel it!
One of the exercises we did at this event was breaking a board with our hand. My fear at this time was not being able to break the board but I also wanted to face my internal fear of failure and disappointing others. Dave stated that when I walk up to break the board repeat something positive to counter this fear. First thing that came to mind was" I am awesome!". Board= broken.
Other exercises we could perform to face our fears included walking on glass and breaking an arrow with one tip at our throat. The final exercise was walking on fire. This was the final opportunity to face our fear we did the other exercsizes waiting for the fire to reach a scorching 1300 degrees. I had it set in my mind that I was going to do this all night. As we approached the fire I felt fear approaching internally and so I started repeating one of my mantras. Our speaker, Dave, explained that listening to our gut is important. We have to decide for ourselves whether what we are feeling is fear or if it is intuition telling us not to do something. This was also something that meant a lot to me. Before I started this journey last year I would feel that fear feeling with everything- I misread it and took it as my gut telling me not to do something and therefore I didn't do much, I was always too afraid. I had always let my fear of failure, rejection, pain, death, emotional pain, broken hearts, being along, low self-esteem- all of these fears would take over and I wouldn't venture out of my comfort zone. The beginning of this journey and how I started it is another blog post to write in the near future.
Back to the fire..... I listened to myself and I recognized that the internal feeling was fear, it wasn't a gut feeling telling me no. It was the usual feeling I had before a race, before a date, before many things. It was fear. So I stopped the negative thinking. The fear I wanted to face walking over the fire was my fear of being unhappy, alone, and weak. To counter and face this fear I repeated, I am happy, I am strong, yes I can! I approached the front of the line and yelled this out loud as I walked accross the fire.
As I finished I felt empowered, happy, strong, and motivated. I know that I can continue Believing, Loving, Understanding, and Empowering!