Pema Chodron is much on my mind these days, because I am in the process of taking an online course with her. As I dipped into The Pocket Pema Chodron this morning, I found this parable about fear and the young warrior.
I hear from so many women that they are fearful to do what they really want to do, or try. How to deal with that fear?
Chodron offers a practical solution: feel the fear, honor the fear, even hear out the fear. But never, ever do what fear tells you to do.
So, if we can make friends enough with our fear, we’ll be able to distinguish between our relationship with fear and action based on fear. Just don’t act on the fear. Then you’re in control.
Here’s Chodron’s parable:
“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, ‘May I have permission to go into battle with you?’ Fear said, ‘Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.’ Then the young warrior said, ‘How can I defeat you?’ Fear replied, ‘My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.’ In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.”
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