Spending a Day with Fear (And Why We’re Now Friends)

For awhile, I thought fear was a real asshole – one of those toxic people that I just couldn’t have terrorizing my life anymore.

Like, here I am trying to dream all these big dreams, do all this cool shit, and take big leaps, and fear’s gotta be all, “no you can’t”, “you’re not good enough”, “you’re going to screw everything up” and “get a real job”.

And we’re not supposed to give those negative voices in our head a turn to speak, right? So I just shut fear up, which didn’t really work out so well because covering fear up is not only exhausting, but frustrating – like the pimple that no matter how much concealer you put on it, it just keeps breaking through, ugh! Then, in October I had the opportunity to attend the Fearless Warrior Yoga Conference.

“Perfect!” I thought.

“Teach me how to ditch my fear” I thought.

“Tell me all you know about kicking fear to the curb” I thought.

But when I got there, everyone was talking about being full of fear.

Hold up.

That is not what this was supposed to be about.

It took my brain some time to wrap around that…

I had gotten SO good at “pretending” to be fearless, that I couldn’t even identify the fears I was running from anymore. That becomes a problem because if you don’t know where the resistance is coming from, it’s hard to take action and make choices that are rooted in the consciousness of the moment.

Spending a Day with Fear (And Why We're Now Friends) - The Fearless Warrior Conference // Photo: Kelley Bedoloto Photography

In the book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert (also the author of Eat Pray Love) shares the welcoming speech she gives her fear before heading off on any big adventure:

“Dearest Fear, Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. Apparently your job is to induce panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job. But understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognise and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps or suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”

My day at the Fearless Warrior Yoga Conference, taught me why and how to give a seat to fear.

Janna Hockenjos, yoga teacher, owner of Inhale Pittsburgh, and published author, gave an eye-opening keynote speech that was exactly what I needed to reframe my mindset around fear. She said 2 things that really stuck with me: 1) fear hates actions and 2) fear is reliable. Already I had a new tool in my arsenal that was so obvious that it wasn’t. If you want fear to shut up, take an action because, since it’s reliable, it’s always going to be there.

High off the notion that fear could be my companion, I headed to the next session led by Certified Life + Leadership Coach and Soulful Branding Expert Emily Cassel. Emily talked to the power of being turned on and how fear is rooted in a lack of trust. There are people we come across that just radiate life. They glow and you just want to gravitate towards them. I’ve thought to myself many times, “why can I not be one of them?”. It was at this conference that I realized I can be, my switch is just off and I’m not trusting my desires. Emily mentioned, “it takes a lot of work to live in your own liveliness” and I haven’t been making my own liveliness as much of a priority as it needs to be.

Then, Stacey Vespaziani, owner of South Hills Power Yoga, gave a powerful workshop on telling our stories with courage to live with less fear (which I was all about since helping entrepreneurs reveal and style their stories to live with less stress is what I do with my life!). She reaffirmed to me that while stories are an essential human activity and vital for progress (not only to our own healing, but our ability to connect with others), not every story is ready to be shared you. It’s okay to hold certain stories in your heart to keep for yourself and other stories in your hands to gift to others.

Spending a Day with Fear (And Why We're Now Friends) - The Fearless Warrior Conference // Photo: Kelley Bedoloto Photography

Before I had to head out, founder of GenY Gypsy, Bella LaQuatra, rocked my world with her session on practical spirituality and self-development. With her diverse educational background and drive to experience as much life as possible, Bella brought science, practicality, and accessibility into the process of transmutation. She inspired us to bulldoze harmful thought patterns and level the inner foundation as the first step to becoming powerful, conscious leaders that can impact the world.

Most importantly, I walked away with tools and action steps to combat the fear that hinders so many of us. I learned not to be afraid of it, but to walk with it. I am so very grateful for the openness, knowledge, stories, and connections I had the pleasure of being immersed in that day. It was so life changing that I just had to ask Hayley Beth Worthman, the conference’s founder, a few questions to get the story how this event came to be!

1.) When was the moment you decided to start the Fearless Warrior Yoga Conference and what sparked that inspiration?

I decided to start the FWYC in October 2014 while practicing in my yoga room. I initially began thinking I would host a workshop, or possibly a series of yoga workshops, surrounding the fear of inversions. It led into my recognizing the fact that I have many dear friends in Pittsburgh that can speak to different themes of fear, and thus the FWYC was born.

2.) What has been the most challenging part of creating this project?

The most challenging part of this project was finding clarity in the exact mission of this conference. I had it on the tip of my tongue, but it took some coaxing from my team during the planning of the 1st conference to be able to express it concisely. “A day of fear exploration using yoga, meditation and storytelling.” Seems easy, but I was certainly making it more difficult than it was!

Spending a Day with Fear (And Why We're Now Friends) - The Fearless Warrior Conference // Photo: Kelley Bedoloto Photography

3.) What advice do you have for your fellow entrepreneurs when they’re paralyzed by fear?

Face the fear and do it anyway. If you feel discomfort in an anxious or panicky way, or your belly is somersaulting at the prospect of taking a plunge, making a change or leading something great, I say that’s where to start. Listen to your body, your heart and follow that feeling.

4.) What does being a fearless warrior mean to you?

What being a fearless warrior means to me is that you feel the fear, understand that it is there, and make a move. I’m a doer and I think that aids in what makes me a fearless warrior. I move, ask for support, make life changes and try to find non-attachment while I’m doing so. I believe we all have a fearless warrior inside us. In some beings it takes longer to rear its head, and in others, it’s evident from day one. Nonetheless, it is a continuous search to find it because we have so many aspects of our lives that it lays there underlining – we just are not always aware of it.

5.) What is the most important thing for people to understand about fear?

Fear is a vital component to being alive. Fear tells us when we’re in danger, but it also perceives danger when it isn’t necessarily present. Talk to your fear, give it a name, it deserves to be recognized. Make friends with fear, and know, that just like many people in our lives, who sometimes they don’t know what’s best for us, fear is the same. It’s our job to be intelligent, turn on the light in the darkness of fear and decide to either walk straight into the mouth of fear or turn around and find a different path.

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As I was looking for inspiration on how to start off this post, I asked my 12 year old sister (because sometimes all you need is a perspective from someone who hasn’t been quite so tainted from the world yet, right?), “what is fear?”. She said something to the tune of “It’s an instinct and if you feel fear other people around you feel it to”. She’s so right. If it’s an instinct, it’s definitely not something we can get rid of, and how you handle your own fear – whether living with it or running from it – has a ripple effect. The more you manage and befriend your fear, the more courage you will spread around you.

Photos: Kelley Bedoloto Photography