Ask Judy #7 Fear: Part 1

miners hat“I want you to write a post about fear,” says Kate, as we step into the ink-black tunnel. She’s getting ready to work with a fear that comes up every time she tries to take this step. She wants the comfort of seeing some written guidance, some validation too.

(We’re really in her office, but I imagine us going forward into that forbidding darkness together, miner’s high-beams like third eyes, lighting the way).

So here’s some of what I know – Part 1.

It’s a truth that dealing with fear is ultimately something we experience alone. No one can do it for us. And because of that, we never have to do it; there can be no coercion.

Anyone telling you that you have to face your fear(s) may think they are helping you but they are not. They may believe that if you did (face your fears) you would be happier and they could be right. They may love you and want that for you, but they are not you and you have to be ready. Ready, and in charge of your own process – always.

 Because working with fear is internal  (it’s about you being with you) the work is in your hands. Happily, there are techniques to be learned and help to be had. An empathetic presence of someone else as your companion and guide can make all the difference. With these tools your “hands” grow kinder and will hold more with greater ease than you ever imagined. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself (again).

In Fear: Part 2  I discuss what makes it so difficult to deal with fear. Until then, you might want to give this activity a go (or not):

  • Identify a time you knew you were afraid.
  • Write a list of the sensations that helped you identify what you felt as being “fear.”
  • With all the self-kindness you can possibly stand, and the most honesty you can muster, list how you reacted to it. Here are some questions to play with:

What thoughts came up when you realized you were afraid?

What did you do?

What did you feel about yourself when you handled it this way?

Is this the usual way, or have you ever handled fear differently?

Play lightly, experiment, no outcome required.

Interested in coaching? Read more at  Move Into


Ask Judy #4: The Problem With “Why” or Try a Little Tenderness

“Why” is a fantastic question. So, this post isn’t an effort to remove it from our language, or anything remotely like that. Lately though, I’ve been listening to how some of us use Why questions against ourselves, against other people or situations, mostly unknowingly, or let’s say, unintentionally.

For example, I have a client who has just begun to notice the power of her inner critters (critics). She has become aware of how difficult it is for her to accept acknowledgment from others, or celebrate her own strengths and accomplishments – big or small.

I’ll stop here and state how cruddy it is to want to feel good and to then notice the pattern of perpetuating the not feeling good. Ouch, yuck, and – what use is self awareness if I still feel cruddy anyway? Oh yeah, I know this one really well.

Back to my client, call her Teresa. Teresa wants things in her life to change. She wants out of the patterns that she sees are holding her back. And, she’s in that place where she’s sick of the old, but when she starts to get a glimpse of the new (and how to go about taking small steps to change her pattern) the Why questions start.

Why do I have this pattern?” Why don’t I just change already? Why do I always do this? And, my all time favorite, “Why, if I can see what’s wrong, don’t I just act on what I know?”

That last question can be the subject of this blog for the rest of my life, so let’s leave it alone for now and move on to, the problem with why. Don’t get me wrong, finding out  why a pattern began is valuable work. But, have you noticed that the Why questions above (or substitute your own)  really aren’t about loving inquiry into what might be under a pattern, but more of, well, blaming?

Mostly blaming ourselves.

Why, in this context, is about looking for what’s Wrong.  Under the guise of figuring it out, we look for the bad, or really, who’s been bad (and guess who that turns out to be?). And, on top of that, we’ve  convinced ourselves that answering the question will bring us the relief we seek. In my experience, this doesn’t happen. The answer isn’t in the reason, but in the relationship with the reason, but that’s also a subject for a future blog potentially titled, “Needing to Know.”

Back to Why. When working with young children, I learned pretty early that, why, as in, “Why did you hit johnny with that truck?” goes nowhere productive. When you ask why in that situation here’s what happens:

  • Jenna, who hit Johnny with the truck, may not know why.
  • Asking why makes Jenna feel stupid, confused and possibly humiliated that she doesn’t know, ’cause if you’re asking her, the expectation is that she should know.
  • AND, she probably hit Johnny because she was scared, angry, or hurt and she didn’t know how to deal with it.
  • That’s pretty overwhelming as it is, and Why from an adult just scares her more.
  • Scared = flight, fight or freeze.
  • The answers you will get at this point are; stone faced silence, running away, “I don’t know” or some version of, it was Johnny’s fault.

See how that works? This post is too long already, so I won’t go into what might be happening for Johnny.

We aren’t much different from Jenna except that now we get to be both scared child and interrogator.  Asking why, when we’re feeling terrible just adds to the confusion and/or self-loathing we already feel.  We think we “should” know, we “should” be able to do something about it and we “shouldn’t”  try anything new (or fall back while we’re learning) unless we can know why there’s a problem in the first place.  Gaaaah.

The first thing to do here is the opposite of analyzing the problem. Why can’t help us here. But tenderness can.  Finding some intentional practice of listening to ourselves with tender regard, as we would hold a tiny seedling that we need to re-pot, or watch a bird hatch from its egg, can bring relief. From here, we are free to know more about what we might really need to do to move forward.

There are lots of great practices to investigate. You might try Exploring the Perimeter, it’s a good start. When I’m really desperate, I pick a part of my body I feel pretty neutral about – like my thumbs- and I sense them (eyes closed) with as much patient gentleness as I can possibly stand for as long as I can.

Listening to Otis singing Try A Little Tenderness here couldn’t hurt either.

Ask Judy #3 What if I don’t dance?

A recent call went like this:

Q:  I love the image you have for Move Into Change (Zeno Frudakis), do you use movement in your work with people? Me: Yes, sometimes. Q: Really? Cool…but what if I don’t dance?

Oh my. Much confusion, misunderstanding and totally unnecessary worry is in this question. Luckily this is an easy one, and answering the concerns hidden in the question gives me a chance to clarify something incredibly important to making change.

First, dance and movement are related. Maybe dance is movement’s high spirited child, but they definitely are not identical twins. When most people say “dance” they usually mean some version of having to figure out how to fit their bodies into a predetermined (by a teacher or the cool kids) series of shapes, in a rhythm. Usually this notion is attached to a sense of failure at having tried this and been told something humiliating, hence “I don’t (can’t) dance.” So, no, I don’t do that, unless it is a specific request- then, maybe.

Do I use movement as one way to help clients access what they know, explore what they want to know or to learn specific (non-dance) skill ? Yes, but only sometimes. And definitely not with a client who isn’t interested. There are many ways to get to where you’re going.

I know this to be True, you can’t get where you’re going without a body. And your body may be an a afterthought for you, which may be part of the reason life feels like it doesn’t quite fit.   A better question might be, “Why, the body?” Why so much emphasis on accessing it, through movement or otherwise, in my work/life?  Here’s how I answer this for myself, daily.

My body is my home, the home of my entire experience of being alive.

Living my purpose requires my presence, which starts in my body and with my relationship with and within my body.

My body is a container that is the hub of everything. It contains me now, me then, aspects of me forming, and the “beyond” me that I may not even know is there. It contains spaces, places, rooms with closets, airy towers, floor to ceiling windows and peepholes. There are vast ballrooms for waltzing and cozy corners for huddling.

Being at home in my body means supporting it, listening to it, getting to know the exiled, forgotten, frightened, and shy places and the joyous, desirous, ecstatic parts too.

Being at home in my body also means taking complete responsibility for my inner ecology, the landscape inside, including who gets to come in.

I am queen, king and subject: guru and disciple of this home of me.

I am in charge of my own process. Sometimes this means reminding others (and myself) that they are not.

Maybe today I will learn something about all this.

Ask Judy #1 Practicing You

Here’s what happens.

I listen to clients; in-person, on the phone, via email and in the strange land of Skype. I love listening to clients and I’m learning to love Skype -kinda. In all this listening I hear questions: interesting questions. Questions that are asked in different ways but are essentially the same question, or fall into a category of question. This reminds me that if one person is struggling or curious then it’s likely that others will benefit from knowing about it. This includes me.

So in AskJudy, I’m going to post a question from a client, blog commenter or random person who emails me with one (a question)- Don’t worry, I won’t use your name without asking permission, that would be wrong.  And then I’ll answer it as best I can.

Bring on the questions!

Today’s question: “Why can’t I carve a pathway to the thing I desire?”

Wow, this is a pretty sophisticated question with many different answers depending on the context. The context here is that this wonderful person is hard at work on a big project. She really wants to do something for herself that would be fun, get her out of her home to meet people and which would contribute to her physical health and overall well-being. Substitute anything you want from your life in here.

She notices that even though she’s clear about what she wants, can see it and practically taste it; and even though she has great reasons for doing this thing, is really excited about  it, she’s been here before and has not been able to follow through on “things that give me pleasure.”

Sound familiar?

Another way I’ve heard this question asked is, “Why don’t I do the things I know I want?”

Well,there’s a lot here to, be sure, and I’m not going to get to all of it (some of it being specific to individuals) but let’s start with this : If you ask anyone, anyone, how to get good at something like painting, baseball, reading, or building boats inside tiny bottles, they’ll tell you …1,2,3 all together now — PRACTICE.

While we know this, and can often apply it to things like painting, baseball, reading etc., we don’t often think about practicing BEING US, our most authentic selves. Let’s face it, most of us weren’t conditioned to  value wholehearted commitment to ourselves (can you hear the voice saying, “That’s selfish?”) We were told that, what others think of us, or want for us was much more important. So no wonder we don’t have a sense of how to go about it.

The first step, the one we have the most control over, is  to commit to figuring out how to be ourselves. That means learning more about how I do “me” and how you do “you.”

And, that takes practice. Practice carves pathways –  literally, metaphorically, and biologically.

In what ways do you already practice being you? If you want, here’s where you can practice sensing your body. Do you need permission?