“The voices in my head
are only hiding from the wolves at my door”.
© D. Archer. July 2015
This is a particularly stressful time for myself, a change of circumstances has provided both an opportunity and yet a seemingly endless set of challenges. I have to admit I don’t “do” change very well. From the rise in my already stratospheric blood pressure to my childish, irrational disappointment syndrome I invented, I don’t “do” change and therefore I don’t “do” anything and yet I am in danger of fulfilling Einstein’s definition of insanity; “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
I was recently sent the following article from an anonymous chicken and it speaks volumes to me (especially the part about publishing a book of poetry). The original article can be found here and I make no claims to any copyright.
If you’re like me, whenever you decide to stretch your wings, try something new, or consider a leap of faith, your inner critic pipes up with a hundred cautionary tales and reasons why things might not work out.
At the best of times, we are able to separate ourselves from this harsh inner critic. Far more often however, we buy into these stories and accept them as gospel.
Identifying Your Fear
When I am firmly situated in a space of grounded calm, I notice that the critical self-talk informing me that I am not enough, don’t have enough, and am not worthy of love is nothing more than fear. Fear is the court jester of emotions as it has many disguises. It has been known to masquerade as self-preservation, protection, expectation, and the desire to fit in. But if you scratch below the surface, you will discover the same old trickster.
Fear does have a rightful place in the lexicon of emotions. Fear warns us to run from the approaching stampede of wild elephants and to leave the bar crowded with brawling bikers who’ve had too many beers. But the type of fear that causes you to compare yourself to others, to feel less-than, to not pursue your dreams—or even allow yourself to dream at all—that’s the type of fear we need to get a handle on.
If we are to live our lives as expressions of love and pure potential, which is our birthright, we need to recognise fear, acknowledge it by name, and practice the tools that allow us to coexist peacefully with this challenging bedfellow—without letting it run us out of town.
Your desire for more confidence, more talent, and more success may be so powerful that it feels like there’s a battle raging inside of you. And when in battle, it’s been said that it’s equally important to know your enemy as it is to know yourself. So how can you recognise your fear so you can manage it? Keep an eye out for these three telltale signs. And know that whatever emotion or story that’s preventing you from moving forward is involved with that pesky four-letter “F” word: FEAR.
1. It’s Irrational
Do you long to take a dance class, paint a picture, or serve on a non-profit board but you are convinced that these expressions could put you in grave danger? You really believe, though now that you think about it, it is a little strange, that something very bad could happen if you publish that book of poems you’ve been working on.
That is classic fear, trying to protect you by telling you to stay small and not do anything that could get you noticed and singled out.
The “fear center” of our brains is called the amygdala, also known as the reptilian brain because it’s been with us since the dinosaur age. You’ve probably heard of the fight-or-flight mechanisms that helped keep us safe as we evolved into fully upright, verbal Homo Sapiens. We can be grateful to the amygdala for preserving us by imparting the instinct not to challenge a saber tooth tiger to a duel and prompting us to run from fire, but there is one big problem with this neural center. It does not have the ability to distinguish between real physical danger and our imagination of danger, which means we can go into a sweaty-palmed panic at the very thought of moving outside our comfort zone.
So if you feel threatened, bring your attention to your breath and intentionally slow it down. Ask yourself: At this moment, am I in danger? If the answer is no, that’s fear paying you a visit.
2. It’s Mean
Fear has a way of always reminding us of our very worst qualities, blowing up every minor issue into a major catastrophe, and never, ever being on your side. In short, if fear was a person, it would be a total psychopath and you would not want its company.
If you notice that your inner dialogue is hurling insults that you wouldn’t lob at your worst enemy, fear has probably taken over.
To combat this nasty naysayer, best-selling author and creativity expert Elizabeth Gilbert shares that before she starts any big project, whether it’s a writing endeavor or an important dinner party, she has a conversation with her fear—literally. She sits Fear down, addresses Fear by its proper name, announces the journey, and actually invites it to come along for the ride (it always does, anyway). She then tells Fear that while it can join her on this journey, it is not allowed to make any decisions—and definitely not allowed to drive. What she’s doing is making an arrangement with Fear that allows her to move forward and puts Fear in a place they can both live with—which is never the driver’s seat.
3. It Justifies and Makes Excuses
Have you ever been really excited about something—such as the thought of taking a trip to Portugal or starting a small business—and then just moments after the delightful thought you are struck with a litany of reasons why you could not possibly do the exciting thing? When this inner dialogue happens, pause for a moment and take a closer look.
If your list of ironclad reasons include things like “it might rain in Portugal and it will be uncomfortable to be in a rainy foreign country” or “Someone in my city has already opened a Thai restaurant,” then it’s quite possible that your good friend Fear has made another appearance.
Fear does not take responsibility and it certainly does not take chances. Over-rationalizing, moving into worry and planning mode, or calling it quits before you’ve even gotten started, are all signs that it may be time to take a moment to look fear directly in its well-meaning, outdated little face … and dare it to stop you.
At the bottom of Pandora’s box
I found an I.O.U.
© D. Archer . June 2015
In hindsight it may not have been such a good idea to read a selection of Sylvia Path before going to bed. It is very very unusual for me to dream or in fact to wake up with any thoughts in my head. This morning I woke up to the sound of rain.
I like rain.
Much like conversations with shopkeepers and old people
I skilfully avoid the coil of dog shit on the cinder path
as the arse crack showing cyclist
swept passed me like my youth,
all his cares de-frosting in a bag for life
low slung from the handlebars;
dangerously close to one wheel;
translucent to the light.
His reckless rolling scattered the complaining birds
from the car driven to ashes
and the weeds and wildflowers
the names of which I never learned in school
but whose smell dragged me back
to where I found your candid Polaroid
that I kept and hid in my room.
© D. Archer. June 2015.
(The names have been invented to make me sound vaguely interesting).
They say a writer writes best from life, so I killed myself to see the other side; but now I’m free of time and loving death, I can’t pick up a fucking pen!
(C) D.Archer. May 2015
Vive Le Tour! Vive Le Tarn!
The Tour De Yorkshar (Phonetically if not culturally correct) swept through “Tarn” at a blistering cost to the tax payer. Newly paved roads and streets marshalled to keep smack heads and chavs on the side streets paid off wonderfully. I got myself in position early only to have a tall bald bloke muscle right in front of me at the last minute. Wouldn’t have minded if it was Dave Brailsford but it wasn’t. I swiftly pretended to rummage in his rucksack and he moved away, Huzzaahh.
I perched myself near the corner at the top of Regents street as I thought I would capture the event as the riders slowed down in front of the tarn ‘all but alas I would have had more success if I had been using an 1898 plate glass Pin hole camera on a tripod that weighed as much as an urchin!
38 seconds after the last picture was taken I left, cursing my lack of photography skills but it was indeed nice to see some sporting culture rattle through tarn and not something vaguely connected to coal, or the pits, or the miners, or soot, or the fact that we have one of the most transitory low paid workforces in the country or child poverty or NEDS or racism or grassball (or whatever it is they call it).
If you were the mystery waving hand in the last photo please get in touch.
Ta Ra frum Tarn!
© David Archer
Cultural Attaché for Tarn.
OK not as many photos as I would I have liked from Yorkshire Sculpture park but in fact the place was crawling with humans of all shapes and sizes creeping into every bloody shot. I got fed up in the end and to cap it all had an argument with a “yoof” who thought it was perfectly OK to climb on the sculptures in order for his girlfriend to capture his idiocy in technicolour for their FACETWAT page.
I have visited YSP on many occasions in all types of weather with friends and family and the place never ceases to amaze me. It’s shame this visit was tainted by the lack of respect shown to the sculptures but I’m sure they will be around a lot longer than the idiot who crossed my path.
© D. Archer . April 2015.
More fun with sharp objects. Celtic birds. Soon to be printed in various shades of success. I bought some cheap photo frames and am looking forward to finally getting some previous efforts framed and mounted. Approximate finished size will be around 6 x 6 inches. I’ll post pictures of the print when my blood pressure has returned to normal.
Please excuse the state of my cutting mat, it has other uses.
© D. Archer. April 2015