The voices of shame and fear are persistent and numerous. They claw and squawk at you until you gently put them to rest. The only way to do that is by listening to the Strong, Still Voice – the voice that calms and loves you. You long to listen to this voice, but you do not know it because the voices of your anxiety draw such urgent attention to themselves. They are “what you need to do” and “what you need to be” for others. You fear that if you stop listening to them, you will not be worth anything or you will not live up to what you are supposed to do and be, but the opposite is true. If you stop listening to them, you will suddenly be able to hear who you are and what you truly need to do and be.
It is healthy for us to be connected to and to have a sense of ourselves in our own stories. This means we have “at hand” everything, good and bad, that has happened in our lives in the past and present and we can see ourselves moving into the future with a coherent sense of who we are. This is another way of being “present”.
At each moment, we are making a decision to either be in relationship or not. This could be called “turning toward” or “turning away”. Even if we make a decision to be in solitude, we can do so with deeper connection in mind, or to avoid connection and truly be alone. Furthermore, even if we choose to be near others, this does not necessarily mean we do so with deeper connection in mind. Sometimes, we choose to be with others in a way that breeds loneliness. In that case, maybe we are just using others to avoid real intimacy which could be better achieved in solitude.
There are so many things we anxiously avoid because we do not really want to know. We do not want to know the answers to our questions, so we do not ask, we do not search, we do not try. When we do search, we many times find that what we were fearing is not real. Other times, we find that our fears are well-founded and then the job is to overcome the fear by facing it. Either way, we must move toward the stress, toward the details, toward that which evokes anxiety. We must figure it out, see it, examine it, admire it, accept it.
As we become adults, most of us gain the ability to have self-awareness – being able to look at ourselves from the outside, the equivalent of seeing ourselves from another’s perspective. And many of us know that when you do this sort of self-analysis ad infinitum, you can get lost inside yourself. This is partly because when you are doing your own self-analysis, you don’t need the perspective of others. It causes a serious drag on our processing, though, and it fatigues us from over-thinking (also called anxiety).