Do not live your life to avoid dying. Die while still alive and be free to live your life.
Let’s look at one of our biggest fears: the fear of death. Over the years, in all the reading and research I’ve done, I’ve been surprised at how many successful and influential people have become that way largely through facing their fear of death. Once free of the fear of death, they were free to live their life.
Buckminster Fuller (famous inventor, thinker, and architect) almost committed suicide in his 30s after failing miserably as a businessman. Robert Kiyosaki (best selling author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”) faced his fear of death as a helicopter gunship pilot in Vietnam. He tells his powerful story of “making peace with his maker,” which allowed him to fly free rather than flying to avoid death. Michael Caine (world class actor) faced his fear of death in the Korean War. In his subsequent pursuit to be an actor he said “If I died doing it, I didn’t care. I only go forward. After Korea, nothing could dissuade me.” He was free. There are many, many examples of people facing their fears with the result being freedom – freedom to fully live.
These are extreme examples of actually facing death itself, but the principles are true for any fear. Fears hold us in their grip until we decide otherwise. This is evolution, and is a core competency for moving your life forward: facing, embracing, and moving beyond your fears. Have you ever noticed how amazing you feel when you face a fear and take action in spite of it? That wonderful feeling of freedom is the triumph of spirit over ego, or, said another way, the expansion beyond your small self into your larger self.
Of course, this is not always an easy thing to do! And indeed, our small-self voice has a job to do and many times we should listen to it. However, more often than not, that voice plays it way too safe – far overestimating the risk involved and far underestimating your capacity and capabilities. So, we need to strike a balance and develop our muscle for trusting and expanding into our higher self, while still respecting and honoring that part of us that wants to keep us safe.
There is a paradox involved here that I want to clarify. On the one hand, we know that what we focus on expands, so one might think that embracing and allowing our fear of death will actually expand it! And that we definitely do not want! On the other hand, what you resist persists:
“Resisting” and “avoiding” are actually ways of focusing on something.
Can you see this? To resist something you have to maintain your awareness of it on some level – you have to know what you are resisting! This keeps your attention on it at some level and therefore actually brings it into your experience. So, while we do not want to focus on and expand, and thereby actually create, our fears, we must release our resistance to them to become truly free of them. We do this by embracing and allowing them. This is very different from focusing on and expanding – we are simply embracing and allowing them into our awareness. We are no longer resisting them. So this is the paradox: that to be free of your fears, including one of our biggest fears, the fear of death, you must embrace and allow them. The logical mind does not understand this. It thinks that to keep something from happening in our life we must resist, avoid, and fight against it. So that is what it does. Have you noticed that whatever you resist, avoid, and fight against tends to stay around in your life for you to continue resisting, avoiding, and fighting against it?
We must come to know that the paradoxical path to being free of fears is through embracing and allowing them. This then allows us the freedom we need to focus on and create what we truly want in life. It’s kind of like that Chinese finger-lock game, the more you try to pull your fingers out the more they become locked in. Only by going into and embracing the lock does the lock become free so you can then pull your fingers out.
As part of the first step of my system, “Discovering Your Big Why,” my clients embrace their fear of death. Through an experiential process of embracing our biggest fear, the fear of death, we can uncover what it is we are really here to do and gain access to truly living. Try this: Take a deep breath and ask yourself “Am I afraid of dying?” And then listen to what comes up. Have a pen and paper nearby to capture insights. Next, explore a little deeper into the answers you get. If no, why not? If yes, what’s underneath that? Just spend a few minutes exploring your current relationship with death and see what’s there for you. Whatever is there, be willing to embrace and allow it, and thereby create a bit more freedom and clarity in your life, and access to good mojo!