Now that we have a foundational understanding of fear and its underlying accomplice vulnerability, we are ready to look at discernment. There are two main strategies I use to distinguish the obstacles of fear or vulnerability on my heart's true path: reasoning and tuning in.
The key techniques I use to reason through a fear/vulnerability situation are writing and list-making.
Free-writing. Sometimes I use morning pages to work through a situation I'm resisting. Through free-writing, I can examine an issue from different perspectives and various "what-ifs." When I write it out and exhaust the scenarios, I usually come to a clear understanding of my underlying issues and the next action that is right for my heart's truth. (Read Share: Listening through Writing for more information on the process of writing morning pages.)
Questions to ask yourself during free-writing:
- What part of me wants to avoid doing this?
- What might it look like if I go ahead and do this?
- ... or if I choose not to move forward on this?
- What might happen if I let go of trying to control the outcome of this situation? (And how might I go about letting go?)
List-making. Sometimes I answers questions similar to those above in the form of a list. A basic list of pros and cons can also clarify a way past fear/vulnerability, often answering the simplified query: Which option might offer the most satisfaction: this or that?
A few years ago, I learned from life coach Martha Beck's book Finding Your Own North Star about how our bodies provide clues to our authentic feelings. In her book, Dr. Beck offers a series of steps to ease into sensing "physiological responses to psychological states." In my Heart's Path Discovery Sessions, I lead a "fast five" kind of exercise (inspired by both Martha Beck and SARK) during which we separately list "toxic" people or experiences and "positive" people and experiences, all while paying close attention to our physiological responses. Running through this exercise during a neutral time allows us to identify the physiological feelings we get during negative and positive situations; when we pay attention, we can recognize those physiological sensations at moments when they are happening.
Questions to ask yourself when practicing tuning in to your physiological reactions:
- How do I physically feel when I imagine myself following through with this option ...
- and failing?
- and succeeding?
- How do I physically feel when I imagine myself abandoning this option?
- How do I physically feel when I let go of any particular outcome?
These are two strategies I turn to when I'm not sure which path to follow because obstacles like fear and vulnerability are blocking the way. By what methods do you discern fear's role in your heart's truth? How do you evaluate your true course? You're warmly invited to share your experiences here on the blog or at our Facebook community page; you can also connect with me via twitter.
Read the first two parts of this fear/vulnerability series here: