On Fear, Courage and Self-acceptance
“Helen, you are so brave and inspiring”, I often hear what other people say this about me. Well, with Juniper in Sagittarius right on fifth house, it helps. (If you don’t know yet, I am a spiritual and metaphysical nerd. Don’t worry, this post is not about that, I digress). And,,, it took me a long time to really accept compliments.
I’ve been on a spiritual journey to self-acceptance and live a happy life since 2012. At the time, I suffered from deep anxiety and depression. From the outside, I was at the peak of my life. In 2011 I just attained a Ph.D. Degree and were to be a professor and I just got married. No one knows that I was deeply unhappy and even I didn’t understand why. So I frequented therapists’ offices and tried various medications. I hated myself and suicidal thoughts came visit often.
The first time I tried meditation during my Yoga and meditation teacher training at Yoga On Main with Ed Zalo, I knew that I was home. I cried for a long time after that. I didn’t quite understand what that meant but I was committed. From then on, I quit my professorship and followed what lighted me up. I became an interior architect, a Fengshui Interior designer and surface pattern designer, and now a professional artist and certified crystal healer.
The journey of self-acceptance and self-discovery made me discover the three major obstacles about self-acceptance: the need for external validation, the need of conformity and the fear of failure.
The need for external validation is so real and such a struggle for me for a long time. When we were children, we all wanted external validation from our parents. And then later on is our friends and peers, then professional colleges. These all comes from the insecurity of the ego and we need to feed it all the time.
Born as a girl is China, I often needed to prove myself was stronger than the boys. My mom once told me that we got kicked out of my grandparents’ house because I was born a girl not a boy. Since then on my little competitive heart told me that I would proved to my grandma I was better. In deed, I was always taller, run faster and an A students in all subject among all my cousins especially the boys. Unfortunately though when I heard my mom said much later in my life that the real reason we got kicked out of my grandparents’ house is because she said something bad about my grandma and made her very angry—not because I was a girl. For a long time, I hated my mom for this emotional debt she put on me. She had no idea.
I still remembered vividly that the time I went to psychiatric ER in 2015 in San Francisco was because I was trying to prove to my mom I was worthy and I was successful even I quit my Ph.D. And professorship. I was 32 at the time and it was also the time I decided to let go of prove and control what I couldn’t control: my mom’s thoughts. It is such a relief.
Today, this courage that helps me navigate through a lot of ego negative self-talk as an artist, crystal healer and business owner. A big part of having the confidence to do what I do is a deep sense of purpose.
I choose to become an artist and crystal healer to fulfill my life’s purpose and be happy. There is nothing else that I want to do. It is like if this is the only thing that you want to do, you’d better make it work. Literally try a thousand or million times even it if fails at first until it works. Just like if you are born a caterpillar and your purpose is to become a butterfly; and if you are born a tadpole and your purpose is to become a frog; you just can’t do anything else but that. Otherwise you are against nature’s law and you are not happy.
Once your gut knows this sense of purpose and happiness while fulfilling it, you don’t need any external validations anymore. You just want to be you and do your thing. Just like the polka dot queen Yayoi Kusama and Frida Kahlo. They didn’t became an artists thinking that they are going to be famous and make a lot of money. They just want to paint their lives as they view it.
Another big part of having this courage to do what you do is your spiritual practices. The longer you practice meditation, journaling, self-acceptance, the more likely you learn the Essenes of non-attachment to outcome. In other words, you have faith or trust in the universe.
Once you trust the universe will provide at its divine timing and you just keep planting seeds and working towards your purpose, things will happen. You will meet the right people at the right time. This kills the need to conform. Because you know who you are and comfortable at accepting it. When you have the trust that if you plant the seed intentionally, the universe hears it and provides, and you and everyone else will live abundantly. Then there is no failure. It is only a matter of timing.
I hope my own reflection upon fear, courage and self-acceptance helps you to navigate your own. Rumi once said “Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Ruin your reputation. Be notorious.” My spiritual teacher Rebecca Campbell told us, “our fear is the gatekeeper to the greatest gifts”, we need to let that go so we can access our gifts.