(Estimated reading time 2 minutes)
I was reminded this week of an experience I had as a child. I was on holiday at my grandparent’s farm. It was the middle of nowhere, South Africa. One of the unusual things about this place was how dark it was at night. We had no electricity (only a generator) and around 9 pm my grandfather, who got up with the sunrise, would turn off the generator. At that moment, no matter what you were doing, you were plunged into darkness. Deep darkness. The kind where you can’t see your hand in front of your face. If you were lucky, you were already in bed. If not, you had to carefully navigate your way to safety while trying not to imagine the poisonous snake that could have slithered in under the door. Lying in the pitch black, so still and quiet, every sound was magnified – the creaking of the old trees, the deep-throated croak of the bullfrogs, the ominous tickle of delicate wings brushing across your face. In later years I would come to appreciate the brilliance of the stars against such darkness, but at the time my vivid childhood imagination would picture that light brush of a moths wings as a creature of epic proportions, with giant feelers and menacing features that was intent on dive bombing my face.
Imagination is often far worse than reality, especially in the dark.
This reminded me of another experience I had more recently, where what I had imagined turned out to be different and much more difficult in my thoughts than in reality.
For some time, I have been intrigued by the idea of intermittent fasting. There are many purported health benefits, and my husband has had some great success with it. Given my many years of food intolerances, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try and give my digestive system a bit of rest through intermittent fasting. I really did want to try it, but I always seemed to put it off. “I’ll start in the new year” became, “I’ll try in February … March … April”. I didn’t think a lot about the why behind putting it off, I only had this vague sense that it would be too hard for me. This unexamined thought was like that little moth that became something much more menacing in the dark. Somehow not eating for 16 hours seemed like an enormous and dreadful hurdle. It feels a bit ridiculous from this end of things to think this was such a big deal, but our fears really do magnify when we try to relegate them to a dark corner in our lives.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.”
― C.G. Jung
Anyway, I finally decided to take what felt like a radical step and try a 16:8 fast. (That’s fasting for 16 hours and eating your food for the day within an 8-hour window) I’m happy to report that it was much easier than I anticipated. I’ve done about 8 of these fasts in the last 12 days, and I really like how it feels so far. Who knew I would not only tolerate it but actually enjoy it?
What precipitated this decision to let go of my fear and try anyway? This was a surprising side effect of some work I was doing with my personal coach in another area of my life. Courage really is contagious! If you’re interested in finding out more, I’d love to chat with you about coaching in general or about my own experiences working with a coach. Connect with me
If you’re trying to overcome some kind of fear in your own life, have a look at the graphic below. These are some of the things I ask myself and have found helpful.
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