metabolizing fear into metaphorical fuel

Throughout the inevitable ups and downs of this life, we all eventually encounter experiences that stretch us to our limits and trigger core fundamental fears. Whether it’s a health crisis, relationship trauma, financial hardship, loss of a loved one, or another kind of major life disruption, these challenges have a way of stripping down our usual coping mechanisms and sense of control, leaving us feeling acutely vulnerable, disoriented and even question our capacity to endure.

In these intensely insecure periods, it’s perfectly natural for primal fears to rise up – fears of our own mortality, of confronting profound grief or suffering, of life never feeling safe or manageable again, of being forever undone or unalterably diminished. We may find ourselves ricocheting between emotionally shutting down and feelings of overwhelm as we adaptively attempt to guard against being swallowed whole by anxieties too primordial to even articulate clearly.

This is the sacred innermost trembling ground where resilience and even heroic growth potential is forged – through our willingness to turn and face these most elemental human frailties we’d rather avoid, shunting off escapism or forcing a premature return to business-as-usual. It’s exactly when we stop outrunning the depths of our existential vulnerabilities and instead allow them to be metabolized that profound transformation begins kindling from the inside out.

The process isn’t remotely easy. It demands that we cultivate exquisite compassion, patience and presence with ourselves amid the ambiguous chaos and discomfort. Resisting the temptation to numb out or prematurely shift into goal-oriented fixing and figure-it-out modes before we’ve honored the raw texture of our experience with mindful, radical acceptance. Creating safe ceremonial containers to let our core emotional waves of fear, grief, anger, relief and tenderness complete their cyclic journeys rather than short-circuiting them through bypassing.

As we commit to stubbornly being with our emotional and spiritual emergency with all its visceral anguish, an almost paradoxical alchemy slowly ensues. We start baptizing ourselves in the truth that our vulnerability contains its own ferocious strength and integrity – a fortitude arising not from imagined self-sufficiency, but from a heroic willingness keep showing up for our quintessential humanness in all its fragile, tender, undefended beauty no matter what.

This becomes the very activation of resilience. An unstoppable trust in our ability to stay present with absolutely anything that unfolds, and to somehow metabolize the intensity into new reservoirs of hard-won wisdom, humble compassion and empathic solidarity. Over many seasons of such cycles, we keep refining our tolerance and even develop secret reverence for being humbled, for sitting with uncertainty, for letting go of what we thought we knew as each fresh initiation ushers us into the wise wilderness that our small self can never completely map. From that naked, permeable essence-place, we draw forth a fierce resilience born from feeling fear’s ultimacy without fleeing. At last maturing into the spiritual warriors for life we’re meant to be, never again confirming fear’s illusion of being too overwhelming to face directly.

In the end, we come to gratefully embrace the sacred stake the periodic upheavals persistently summon within us. Just as the forest relies on intermittent wildfire to trigger renewed fertile ground, so too do we depend on revolution and surrender to keep alchemizing our most challenged spaces into life-giving chalices for the full harmonious flourishing we’re destined to.

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