The Fears that Hold Us Back

Fears hold us back from loving and following the truth our hearts whisper.  They keep our hearts closed, our breath shallow, and our bodies tense.  But there’s something we can do.  And it’s simple, powerful, and healing.

Take Heather Von St. James.


Eight years ago, at the age of 35, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma – a rare cancer that kills most people within two years of the diagnosis.  When Heather was diagnosed, she had just given birth to their daughter, Lily.   She was given just 15 months to live.  Heather had a life-saving surgery in which her left lung was removed.  Today, eight years later, every year on February 2, Heather and her family, along with a growing number of friends and folks like us, join her in LungLeavin’ Day.  Every year, folks gather around a big fire in Heather and Cameron’s backyard.  They write their biggest fears on a plate.  Then they throw them into the fire.  They gather to honor those who are no longer with them.  They gather to honor those who are in the midst of struggling with mesothelioma.  They gather to celebrate ALL of our lives – and let go of our FEARS in order to LIVE.

It’s so simple.  So empowering.  Gather together, name your fears, and throw them into the fire.

The truth is we need each other.

The truth is we all have fears that make us hold back from loving and living with full, open hearts and arms.

The truth is that there is something within us calling us, inviting us again and again, to return to a deep sense of peace, contentment, and freedom.

The truth is such freedom is possible right here in this moment – yet it often feels sooo hard and soooo far away.

I have seen time and again in my work as a therapist, coach, and yoga/mindfulness teacher how our fears keep us from embracing the life that’s right before us.  I see how fear makes us hold our bodies in tense positions, makes us hold our breath, makes us hold back our love. And I’ve seen the amazing transformation – literally visible in people’s bodies — when they mindfully meet their fears – with kindness, spaciousness…and community.

What can we do?

Take Heather and Cameron’s lead.  Gather.  Name your fears.  Throw them into a fire.

Gather.  When was the last time you asked someone to just BE with you, to hear you out, to really be present with you?  When was the last time you asked your partner to say little, to not fix anything, and just hold space for you to name the layers of your fears?  Sounds incredibly vulnerable and scary?!  Yep.  It is.  That’s fear talking.  AND when you do gather with just one other person or with a group of dear ones and you hold space for each other to name, list, write on a plate – whatever you want to do – you’ll see how fear is just an illusion.   You’ll feel empowered.  You’ll feel bigger than your fear.  And when you do it with others, you are supported by a tribe of people – and you support them.  Talk about powerful.

Name your fears.  Naming is a powwwwwerful way of healing.  Just naming.  Not reacting. Not judging.  Not beating yourself up for feeling this way.  Naming and allowing.  I wrote a great post about just this awhile back.  Check it out.

Throw your fears into the fire.  Literally or metaphorically.  In mindful meditation, when you name your fears, holding them with gentleness, allowing them to be there, staying in touch with your breath – our fears can disintegrate  ALL ON THEIR OWN.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve experienced it.  Just giving them presence, giving them spaciousness, they can dissolve.

Heather and Cameron have a lovely website.  Check them out.  Read their story.  Find hope.  Find encouragement.  Get a plate, make a fire, gather around it, and then see your fears dissolve.

Many blessings,

Lisa A. McCrohan
Mom. Compassion Coach. Psychotherapist. Delight passionista.

barefootideaslogo ** Friends, I’m glad you are a part of this community. If you’d like to receive Gems in your inbox, click “follow.” I hope today you are inspired to live with more delight, compassion, and connection in your everyday life. Visit the Barefoot Barn for more information or contact me about mindful/compassion coaching, psychotherapy, workshops and retreats.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jodi Aman
    Jan 28, 2014 @ 21:41:23

    This practice is so beautiful. A desparate situation can make people so inspirational! Naming your problem is the most important thing. I agree! xo


  2. brendamarroy
    Jan 29, 2014 @ 11:37:53

    I know this to be true and I thank you for writing this. You’re amazing. :)


  3. Professions for PEACE
    Feb 26, 2014 @ 14:04:44

    Thank you for this beautiful post, and for introducing Heather and Cameron. They are lovely, inspiring people. It’s so true my friend: we need each other. And this insight about naming and releasing our fears is incredible. I love it!
    Brightest blessings, Gina


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Copyright. 2013. All rights reserved. No portion of any post may be copied without written permission from the author. The advice offered herein does not constitute a substitute for professional psychological treatment, therapy, or other types of professional advice and intervention. The self-help contents are solely the opinion of the blogger and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction and/or diagnosis or treatment of any kind: medical, spiritual, mental, or other. If expert advice or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

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