Afraid of the dark?

Photo by Tookapic


If you happened to be out and about earlier this week, you may have caught sight of how big and full the moon was in the night sky.  Waxing and waning through its phases, it seemed to be begging to be noticed.  I recalled childhood memories of riding in the family car, perceiving the moon illuminating our way as we headed home.  Without knowing why, I knew there was something comforting about that.  My daughter teased me, suggesting that I must have felt like the center of the universe, with the moon revolving around little old me.  Maybe, maybe not.  But either way, it’s pretty impressive, a moon so bright, and so unafraid in the midst of all that darkness.

This week, the moon was just as present for me and my son on these country roads as it had been so many years ago in the suburbs of my childhood.  It seemed to lean in as we talked about him venturing out more and more into the world. Already he has learned so much. But as you might expect, fear has been a necessary ingredient to his growth.  He described an increasing sense that fear might only be “in our head”. Gradually, he seems to be realizing that sometimes things are not as bad as we imagine them to be. He’s discovering bit by bit, that he is able to handle more than he once thought he could, allowing him to take on the next challenge, rather than letting fear limit him.  He’s learning his own power.  For his mama, that is gold.

We’ve all been there.  How easily we allow our experiences, our own personal logic to direct us.  What’s in our heads can lead us to mistrust what is in our “guts”, moving us further and further from what is possible.  But how do you know?  Especially when so many have experienced real danger and trauma, how can we know when it’s time to defend against another hurricane, or instead to trust it, allowing an opportunity to dance in the rain?

In his book, The Gift of Fear, Gavin De Becker explains it perfectly.  Intuition.  When it comes to issues of safety, it informs us before our brain even knows what’s coming.  Trust it and listen to it because it is always right.  Problems come when our head makes mistakes in interpreting or translating what our guts are trying to tell us. Recognizing that the root of the word Intuition means “to guard, to protect”, he suggests that even the expert should “combine an informed opinion with a strong respect for his or her own intuition and curiosity.”

De Becker refers to the many signals our Intuition might use to get our attention, noting their ranking according to their level of urgency.  With fear at the top, he offers three tips:

  • When you feel fear, listen to it
  • When you don’t feel fear, don’t manufacture it (worry is manufactured fear that can actually distract us from finding solutions)
  • If you find yourself creating worry, explore and discover why

Just as the moon shines brightly in the night sky, De Becker suggests that Intuition “connects us to the natural world and to our nature”.   Instead of explaining it away or denying it, we should respond to Intuition first by recognizing it as meaningful and noticing what is illuminated.  It may not be what you think.  Avoid the distraction of what you imagine might happen, and instead give “relaxed attention” to what is actually there so that you may see the true possibilities present in even the darkest moment.

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