In any given situation, we are presented with a choice: we can either fall into our fear or lean into our strength.
When we fall, it is rarely of the controlled sort. After all, we don’t seek out and intend to fall, unless we’re skydiving, of course. And though we may welcome the feeling of ‘falling’ in love, for example, we can never anticipate the fall itself. It catches us off guard, and is often an unintended consequence of losing our footing, our balance and our center, whether literally or figuratively.
By contrast, when we lean in, it is with deliberation; an intentional choice to put the full force of ourselves in to something or to draw from something, whether strength, love or something else altogether.
Recently I was confronted with a situation that was as uncomfortable and unsettling as it was familiar. As I contemplated my course of action, I couldn’t help but reflect on similar encounters in the past, and how I use to fall into my fear, as if helpless to choose another course of action. When people crossed a personal boundary, whether of my own accidental making or not, I would either ignore it, bury it, or run away from it altogether, focused more on protection from than prevention of. I might also cry, worry or vent, and in the process, inadvertently create a new layer of ‘stuck-ness’ that was every bit as damaging and dis-empowering as the circumstance itself. In simple terms, I enabled the unwelcome, and then wondered why things didn’t turn out as I planned.
When we cease to view ourselves as victims of our circumstance, we empower ourselves beyond measure.
But in every situation, we have the power of choice: we can mindfully act from a place of self-love or recklessly react from a place of fear. We can practice learned helplessness or exercise self-assertiveness. Though we cannot always prevent and anticipate the unwelcome in our life, the mindset of victim or victor is still within our control.
This time I chose a different course of action. Instead of running away from the discomfort, I sat with it. Instead of masking my pain, I confronted it. Instead of focusing on what was being ‘done to’, I focused on personal accountability — choosing to act from a self-empowered place, instead of giving my power away to another. Most significantly, instead of falling into fear, I chose to lean into my strength.
Addendum: Leaning into our strength begs the question of where strength itself comes from. Moreover, it raises another important question: If we lack inner strength, what alternative is there to falling into our fear? On my own journey, when (I feared) I lacked the strength to navigate a difficult situation, I leaned into my Faith. For me, they are interrelated, for as my Faith deepens, so does my courage, self-love and respect, from which strength and resiliency are born.
I’m curious to know…
As you reflect on your own life and leadership, do you tend to feel powerful or powerless? Are there specific triggers that cause you to fall into fear? How have you leveraged leaning into your inner strength to overcome these fears and build resiliency in your life?