Today is October 20 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you identify your deepest fear?” Navigating the chaos of life will most likely involve some level of fear. For those that accomplish one goal after another, they understand the value of identifying their deepest fear and understand they may never overcome it but they certainly have the ability to manage it should they choose to.
As Marianne Williamson wrote in A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles,
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Before the world knew Marianne Williamson as an internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer appearing on television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose & Bill Maher, she had a tumultuous experience navigating the chaos.
Williamson attended Houston ISD's Bellaire High School. After graduating, she spent two years studying theater and philosophy at Pomona College in Claremont, California, where she was a roommate of eventual film producer Lynda Obst. In 1973, Williamson—an active antiwar protester—dropped out of college and lived "a nomadic existence" during what she calls "her wasted decade." She moved to New Mexico, where she took classes at the University of New Mexico and lived in a geodesic dome with her boyfriend. She broke up with her boyfriend a year later and moved to Austin, Texas, where she took classes at the University of Texas. After leaving Texas, she went to New York City, intending to pursue a career as a cabaret singer, but got distracted by "bad boys and good dope." Vanity Fair wrote that Williamson "spent her twenties in a growing state of existential despair". In New York, Williamson suffered from deep depression following the end of a relationship. She has said that this experience gave rise to a desire to spend the rest of her life helping people.
In 1979, Williamson returned to Houston, where she ran a metaphysical bookstore coffeeshop, sang Gershwin standards in a nightclub, got married and divorced "almost immediately," and underwent a "spiritual surrender". In 1983, Williamson had what she has called a "flash" to close the coffeeshop and move to Los Angeles. She said she felt the city would be welcoming to her because of its willingness to "start new conversations." She made the move with $1,000 in her pocket. She got an apartment in Hollywood. Her roommate was 17-year-old Laura Dern, who noted that Williamson "held prayer groups in our living room."
Williamson got a job at the Philosophical Research Society. As part of their lecture series, she started speaking about, Helen Schucman’s 1975 publication A Course in Miracles, a curriculum for spiritual transformation. Williamson said that the book was her "path out of hell," as she had been "mired in a series of unhappy love affairs, alcohol and drug abuse, a nervous breakdown, and endless sessions with therapists." She was captivated by the book's message on forgiveness, specifically the notion that one cannot find peace in life without forgiving others. Williamson said that made her realize "how many of my problems stemmed from my fear of other people."
Williamson’s lectures were grounded in her belief that by consulting the Course, every problem can be solved, and that miracles are possible through a change in perspective. According to Williamson, "All that a miracle is, is a shift in perception from fear to love. It’s simply the notion that when your world view changes, your behavior changes".
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles was Williamson’s first book, published in 1992, that helped launch her career into greater heights. If we can learn anything from Williamson’s turbulent path of navigating the chaos, it is that she lived out loud, learned lessons along the way, and continued to pursue opportunities while allowing herself to unfold along the way.
Williamson did not put off living. Is your deepest fear delaying a life decision? If so, why? Sadly, this delaying of life happens far too frequently. For example, Dale Carnegie once wrote “One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”
British philosopher Alan W. Watts went even further and wrote “We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is.”
How often do you identify your deepest fear?
How often do you allow your deepest fear to delay a life decision?
How often do you believe you are ‘powerful beyond measure?’
How often do you believe your ‘life most frightens you?’
How often are you ‘shrinking so other people will not feel insecure around you?’
How often do you remind yourself you are meant to shine?
How often do you remind yourself that as you are ‘liberated from your own fear your presence automatically liberates others?’
Who or what is holding you back from facing your deepest fear?