"Max Planck, the father of quantum theory, described a universal field of energy that connects everything in creation: the Divine Matrix" - Gregg Brayden
Whether you're into the idea that we are all Beings of Light vibrating in a morphic field of consciousness or you're a pragmatic physical-world realist, there is no denying that life is all about energy.
When you're excited about something it's easy to get up early and get after it. When the elements of your environment, your life and your physical energy are aligned towards a desired goal, you are unstoppable.
Why is the idea that everything is energy important? Why is this so exciting?
Answer: Because - when you monitor and intentionally tune your energy in 3 key areas - you can achieve whatever you set your heart and mind to do.
Today I want to talk about the first area, Environment.
Almost everything around you gives you energy or takes energy from you. Very few things are neutral. This is important because human beings have an innate survival imperative to adapt to their environment in order to experience belonging. Read that last sentence again. You WILL adapt to your environment.
The US military knows this concept. In basic training, a lot of intentionality goes into creating an environment with one incredibly narrow focus: turn civilians into soldiers. At the end of the training cycle, most newly minted grads get to go home for a break before reporting to their units. In the brief before going home to visit our friends and family, we were warned to be mindful of being back in the environment we came from just a few months before. Our friends were likely doing the same things they were back then (sometimes not the best life choices) and we might find it challenging to stay out of trouble. The instructors know that months of training can be undone by a few days in a different environment.
So, the environment always wins, because the non-conscious mind is always scanning the environment and adapting your behavior to fit.
The good news is there are simple ways to create the environment that you need to succeed, and use your human need to adapt to your advantage.
One approach to creating more aligned energy in your environment is to consciously scan your life for anything that is causing you dread or anxiety and make it a quest to eliminate it! Whatever energy was being drained by that element and more will be returned to you.
Another approach is to reflect on what experiences have pumped you up in your life and place a physical reminder of this in your world where you will see it every day. That reminder will give you energy and help you stay in the right headspace for achieving your dream.
For me, when I tacked my Ranger School Tab onto my wall in my home office I felt a surge of pride. As I glance at it now I am reminded of the depths of my own resilience and perseverance. I am also inspired to continue doing my part as a coach to bring more love, adventure and freedom to people's lives and more peace to the world so maybe one day we won't need to fight pointless wars on some distant battlefield.
Another idea is to put yourself near people who will lift you up. Jim Rohn is famously quoted as saying, "You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with". Most successful individuals will tell you that you have to find a mentor or coach and surround yourself with a great team in order to really succeed. Seek out people and information sources that will help you level up your life.
Scan your environment. What do you see? What people, places and things that you interact with on a regular basis support your growth and the realization of your dream? What people, places and things do not? If the environment you are in is not supportive of who you are trying to become or what you are trying to accomplish it will take massive amounts of willpower to succeed and it is unlikely that success will be sustainable unless the environment is upgraded. Now you know that its possible to rapidly design your environments to energize your efforts and eliminate the need for sustained willpower.
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” —Eleanor Brown, author
In this 3 part series, we are talking about how everything comes down to energy, and how you manage your energy makes all the difference. Any conversation about energy would be suspect if it didn't include the topic of self care, so that's what I want to talk about today.
How inspired are you to achieve your dreams when you have low energy? Probably not very. In fact, you probably would rather take a nap. And then you probably start judging yourself about how you're lazy and maybe you'll never achieve what you dream about. That is exactly the pattern we want to interrupt.
It is very difficult if not impossible to build your dream through an energy of "I'm tired", "I'm lazy", "This sucks" or any other negative, low energy thoughts. Some of you can push through it with your willpower, at least temporarily, but eventually this catches up to you. Not to mention, other people (who you need to help you on your journey) pick up on your unspoken energy and start to be less cooperative, because it's draining to be around someone who is always worn out.
So, what is the answer? Self care. Do not try to push through your low energy! This is the time to take action to get yourself back into a positive, higher energy state.
Ultimately, self care is about Self Love. Two questions naturally come up for me and most people at the mention of this idea:
What counts as self care?
How do I do it?
And why is it so important?
First, let's talk about the what counts.
I've had countless conversations about what qualifies as self care. Here's a list of popular activities:
cold showers / immersion
massage / reiki
sleep hygiene / naps
activity in nature (hiking, camping etc)
skiing / snowboarding
talking with a loved one
taking a bath
As you can see, the list is long and varied and these are just a few options. What you do to take care of yourself and recharge your battery is a highly personal choice. The bottom line is anything that brings you great joy and peace, and allows your mental, physical and spiritual body to recover is a great choice!
Second, how to do it? There's two ways to look at this: prevention vs intervention. Building a preventative self care routine is like developing any habit or skill in your life. Identify that it is important and then choose to make it a priority. It helps to schedule it and track it!
For example, meditation and yoga are pillars of my well being and ultimately my performance as a human and as a coach. I recently realized that I was not doing either of these activities as much as I would like to. So, I made a pact with myself about what days and times I would commit to going each week and I blocked those times on my calendar. I treat these as important as any business or networking meeting. Then I made a simple tracker so that I could check off the days that I follow through on my commitment to myself. After the routine is established, I don't need to use the tracker, but if I start to slip, it's a great way to get back on track. Also, having a friend or coach to help keep you on track is very helpful.
Some days, with or without a preventative routine, you find yourself in the "holy crap, I'm about to crash and burn!" category. This is why developing your awareness and intuition is helpful because you will start to know when its time to pull in some rest and recovery, before you hit a complete wall. With increased awareness, you'll start to get a feel for when you need a week off versus just needing to meditate for 5 minutes.
However, if you see yourself at the five alarm fire stage, you can still implement self care. Remember when I said self care is ultimately self love? Applying self love means dropping the judgement and letting go of expectations around what you're supposed to be able to handle. I am looking at all of you supermen and superwomen out there when I say this. You do not have to keep it together 24/7/365! I promise there is a big shiny golden nugget of growth just on the other side of loving self advocacy.
Which brings me to why this is important. My wife and I had a conversation about a recent experience she had that highlighted some really powerful ideas. She had gone out to run some errands with our 7 year old daughter. Most of us have recognized that going out in public carries some extra weight these days. This is on top of the challenge of bringing along a young child. When my wife left the house she was in great spirits. When she returned a couple hours later she was in a much different state. After reflecting on this together for a few minutes, she made the decision to SPEAK UP for what she needed in that moment. She called a friend to cancel some casual plans, told me she needed some support and took some time to herself to relax and re-center. I took care of the kids and whatever else needed to be done so she could have some uninterrupted time.
She emerged later in a much more empowered state and the insights that came from this experience highlight the reason why self care is such a powerful way to energize your life, beyond even the proven physical benefits. I want this to be very clear:
Admitting when you need a break, and need to give yourself some love, is empowering! Just taking that stand for yourself can start to swing your energy back in the right direction.
Speaking up honestly about your energetic condition, models healthy behavior for the people you tell and gives them permission to do the same.
Your circle of supporters have an opportunity to help you which can make them feel great, increasing their positive energy and a sense of connection.
You know we're all connected right? So you taking care of you is contributing to the health and increasing the level of love in the collective community and world
There is plenty of research showing that lowering your stress improves immune function and therefore contributes to a longer, more enjoyable life. This alone is a great reason to prioritize self care.
The bonus is that self care is not selfish. In fact, it is key to creating healthy relationships, building strong communities and creating a more resilient and connected world. Not judging yourself when you realize you're tapped out makes room for more love. All of this creates a virtuous cycle of energy that helps you pursue your dreams and serve others from a full cup. And who doesn't want more of that?
"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live." - "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius, Book VII, (8), (c. 161 - 180 AD)
We've touched on environmental design and self care, now I want to talk about energizing your life with your fear. It sounds counterintuitive, and yet we know everything in life is energy. So, social fear is energy too, and you can think of it as a resource. It's just a misaligned and scattered energy resource. Your dream needs you to harness that energy and turn it into something useful.
Before we describe how to alchemize your social fears, it's important to note that the action that is causing your fear to rise is the exact action that you need to take! That's good news! Because in this way, your fears are a compass. By following your fear, you can create a treasure map to your dreams.
As a bonus, each fearful action most likely holds awareness of your superpowers that you will need to develop. This is exciting stuff because if you embrace your fear instead of 'destroying' or avoiding it, you can actually experience more momentum and confidence towards your BIG dream.
Is it making sense now why I always say, "Life is an Adventure!"?
In this post I want to address the following questions:
Why do we avoid facing our fears?
Why do we even feel social fear?
How can we recognize fear?
How do we transform fear into fuel?
So, why do you avoid facing fear?
1. You aren't even aware of it and can't recognize it for what it truly is
2. You don't know how to deal with it
3. Because it sucks! It doesn't feel good to feel this funky energy
Why do you feel social fear?
Throughout your life you have had experiences where you put yourself "out there" and have gotten squashed. The experiences have been stored in the body and when you encounter a situation now that feels energetically similar, the body tries to keep you safe. It speaks up through sensation to try to keep you from having another crappy experience. Why? The number one human imperative is survival, and by extension, to maintain belonging (ie social status, reputation etc).
An article in Psychology Today claims that 'Our fear of standing up in front of a group and talking is so great that we fear it more than death'. The article goes on to explain that,
'When faced with standing up in front of a group, we break into a sweat because we are afraid of rejection. And at a primal level, the fear is so great because we are not merely afraid of being embarrassed, or judged; we are afraid of being rejected from the social group, ostracized, and left to defend ourselves all on our own. We fear ostracism so much today, it seems, fearing it more than death, because not so long ago getting kicked out of the group probably really was a death sentence.'
The challenge is that in order to play bigger in your life and become the person required to live your big dream, you will naturally threaten your current sense of belonging. So the body speaks up. Self preservation kicks in to shut down the threat.
Here's a hypothetical example of how this happens:
Maybe when you were a kid you had a role in the school play. Lets say you forgot your lines in front of everybody. You felt like a failure. You experienced sensations of disappointment, embarrassment. Maybe you were laughed at or ridiculed. Your family and friends reacted in a way that felt scary to you at the time. Now, as an adult, when you have to give a presentation or ask for a raise or interview for a job, you get stuck. You procrastinate while preparing and get nervous because non-consciously, it feels like a similar situation. Whether you realize it or not, your non conscious mind is trying to keep you safe by attempting to get you to avoid the risky situation.
Here's a personal example from my journey to becoming a storyteller and coach:
I have been thinking about having a blog for years. I have written a couple articles here and there, but never consistently enough to create something sustainable. The number one reason, if I'm being completely honest? Fear. And it sounds like this: "Will people care about what I write?" "Am I a good enough writer?" "Am I really the one to be sharing this stuff?" "What if no one reads it?"...And on and on. And it gets much more negative as the thoughts spiral. So for years I just had the idea of blogging, but no actual blog.
Underlying all of these thoughts are feelings of not being enough, fear of rejection, making mistakes and being a disappointment.
Recognizing the fear
I want to invite you to reflect on a time recently where you felt some kind of resistance, hesitation or avoidance to doing something that you knew would be beneficial towards accomplishing an important goal, especially if it involved social risk. Maybe you experienced procrastination or felt like you had to "power-through", or just avoided doing the thing (often times these days avoidance shows up as "accidentally" scrolling Facebook for an hour.) This is a sure sign of fear trying to keep you safe.
A perfect example of the power of this process is when one of my clients was considering pursuing a manager position within the sales organization to which he belongs. Coming into our session, he was very uncomfortable with the idea of interviewing for this position because he felt like it was impossible to overcome the fear of doing this and be comfortable with the challenge.
After feeling the fear and going through the whole experience together, he was energized to go for it! Even though he didn't get the position he interviewed for, he did get a raise and has been recognized as a candidate for the next open position as a result of taking action.
He admitted to me after, that he would not have had the confidence to even try if we had not gone through this process together. I see this all the time! People do not even attempt to go for their dreams and big goals because fear holds them back and as a result they do not experience the abundance that is possible for them.
So, now we understand a bit more about why fear holds us back from living our dream and where the preservation instinct comes from. This is great, but what now? You still have the fear and it's still keeping you stuck. So how do you turn your fear into energy that can actually help you take action and live your dream?
Transforming Fear into Fuel
Here is one great tool to use when you recognize that you're being confronted by social fear on the path to your dream. Ideally you can be in a safe, quiet space for a few minutes uninterrupted. Do your best to stay judgement free and curious throughout the process
Notice your thoughts
1. Close your eyes, breath naturally
2. Imagine yourself taking the action that you are stuck on
3. Notice your reaction and the judgmental, scary, limiting thoughts going through your mind
Feel the fear
1. Scan your body for physical sensations
2. Be deeply present with the sensation. Allow yourself to Feel it!
3. Notice any beliefs or memories that come up
Let your Dream Speak
1. Feel gratitude for the body trying to keep you safe
2. Gently set an intention to live your dream
3. Listen to how your heart wants you to show up in this situation (the same action you are imagining taking that you feel stuck on)
4. Re-visualize the action you want to take with your heart's intention in mind
In a way, you can think of your fear as an entity, that just wants to be seen and heard. If you create that safe space for it within you, then its not so scary. And instead of trying to ignore, demolish or eradicate it, you can embrace it and listen to what it has to teach you. Then your fear truly becomes your ally and you can move boldly towards your dream.
In fact, once you experience this energy conversion, you may actually start seeking the fear, using it to create your own personal treasure map, because you know how powerful it is to embrace it and that it really can energize your life.
Wishing you love and joy on your adventure to freedom,