Could Fear Be Your Most Helpful Friend?

I received an email on facebook recently that surprised me in the most delightful way.  I thought you might be interested in reading it, so I asked, and received permission, to share it with you. 

But first, there's something I need to tell you.

I'm not sure if you know this about me, but I used to run Cuddle Parties here in Toronto (I retired my pajamas January 2011). Becoming a Cuddle Party facilitator was something that took much fear busting, and many firsts to attain.

Lots of sitting sweaty and nervous in my pjs.  In NYC at my first party (which also happened to be my first time on the radio). In Santa Monica, California three weeks later at the facilitators training. In my living room a few weeks after that to facilitate my first party. In a room, a month later, at the Ontario Legislature (of all places!) with a big TV camera, a guy named Mike and questions from CTV News at Noon in my ear. That first time on TV, I wore my best blouse, but later that year I did wear my pjs on TV in the halls at the CBC.

Cuddle Party consistently pushed me into my un-comfortable-zone. 

But it wasn't all sweaty flannel and clammy palms. After every moment of fear, came moments of elation, of affection, of friendship, of believing in myself.  Every time I stepped into that oochy, ack, eek place, I came through knowing that could do more and be more.

It felt like a very personal struggle with fear, something I was doing to push my own limits, but the beautiful thing about facing fears, is that sometimes it has unexpected consequences beyond our own sweaty armpits and expectations.

Here's the email that showed up in my inbox, that made all those eek, argh, OMG moments even more worth it.

"Hi Cecilia! You likely won't remember me as we met a few years ago. I just wanted to thank you for the cuddle parties you once hosted. I came in as a very socially isolated person with severe social anxiety and various trust and touch issues.

e attending one of your cuddle parties about two years ago my life has radically changed. By facing one of my biggest fears in life I was able to tackle other less scary interactions and can now say I am no longer socially isolated and quite happy. My touch issues have mostly been resolved as well. 

I just felt the need to share this progress with you as you facilitated one of the most important events of my life without knowing it. Months later I recommend a new friend also try the attending a party and he too had a similar result. I would just like to thank you for your work as it has been much appreciated."

Wow! Receiving this email was such a beautiful reminder to me that when you face your fears something incredible can happen, not only in your life, but perhaps in the lives of others. And you may never know what a difference you made. 

What if, the author of the lovely email above had caved to her very real fears and social anxiety?  How did her choice to walk through the veil of fear change not only her life, but her friend's life as well?

What if, on that sunny February day seven years ago I had listened to my fear and sat outside that Soho yoga studio instead of going in to my first Cuddle Party? How did that choice change my life and the lives of others?

When I think of how many incredible things came from that one choice, that one moment of being brave and facing a huge fear, my mind begins to boggle. 

All the people I met, the friends I have, the hundreds of people who faced their own fears and showed up at parties, the friendships formed, the relationships created, the experiences had, and yes, the lives changed.

When you face a BIG fear, somehow, all the little fears are easier to tackle, like it was for the dear author of that email. She did one thing that really, really scared her and then, suddenly, all those smaller fears were much more manageable.  "If I did THAT, then surely I can do this!"

Fear is my compass. If I'm afraid of it, it's likely the thing I need to do above all others.

There is something that you're afraid of, I'm sure of it. 

  • What is it? 
  • What would it take for you to face it? 
  • What's the most amazing thing that could happen if you do?
  • What is there to lose if you don't?
  • How could your life change?
  • What is one thing that you can do TODAY to face that fear?

You know that I want to hear all about it in the comments below, and if you have a friend who needs just a little nudge toward that delicious edge of fear, please pass this along.

Take care, 

p.s.*What's a Cuddle Party?  Basically it's a pajama party for grownups and a place to learn about communcation, boundaries and to give and receive affectionate touch.  What!?  I know, I thought it was a little wacky the first time I heard about it too. At the time I was single, not looking, and really wishing I could find someone who was just interested in a little spooning. You can hear a very nervous Cecilia on the radio documentary that my friend Barbara made for CBCs Definitely Not the Opera, of our trip to NYC.  A big first for her too!