A couple of days ago, I came across some pithy words at Motherhood Reinvented: “If you want to jump off a bridge, call a therapist. If you want to cross a bridge, call a coach.”
I had just received my acceptance letter to the UVM Master’s in Counseling program, and was facing a decision. I took some time to sit with it, sit in a feeling kind of way and not an over-thinking kind of way. (Imagine that.)
That quote got me to look up from my questioning patterns and see this truth: I am already on a bridge. It may feel more rickety at times than some of the older, more established and well-known ways of crossing the river, but I’ve come this far. There is no need to turn around and start my way across a brand new bridge.
All the world
is a very narrow bridge
and the main thing
is not to be afraid.
~ Rabbi Nachman of Bratslov
I have written so many times about this fear, this fear of taking up room and putting myself out there. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not having enough skills, fear of not having enough to offer, fear of seeming this or that. Fear of fear. Et cetera and so forth.
The phrase “self-legitimization” comes to mind, i.e. my clients do not seem to care what degrees I have. A friend said something so simple to me recently over coffee that it struck me as profound: “The work you do is valuable.”
The work is valuable. Somehow that little sentence unlocked something for me. The work is valuable! If I get out of my own way and stop worrying about me, I get to do valuable work! What a good thing to remember.
In Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chögyam Trungpa writes:
The process of freeing yourself from arrogance and cutting off your habitual tendencies is a very drastic measure, but it is necessary in order to help others in this world.
All of my fear is no other than arrogance in a different form. If I am to help others, to continue walking bravely across this bridge, I have to throw fear into the river. Toss it. Lovingly say goodbye, the way Pearl says goodbye when she flushes the toilet: “Bye-bye pee-pee, bye-bye poo-poo.”
Really, isn’t that all fear is, so much pee-pee and poo-poo? A byproduct of a natural process whereby our bodies take in the nutrients, the building blocks of our skin and bones, and dispense of what doesn’t nourish us – thus allowing us to grow and be healthy?
When I gently remove my raging ego from the equation and move forward, it’s actually easier to keep my balance on this swaying bridge.