How to Handle the Terror Within

Admit it, you are scared to death. Terrified you are making the wrong choices.  Petrified that you have screwed it all up (or that you will) and this carefully constructed life you have created for yourself will all come crashing down around you.  Sometimes it feels so overwhelming you wonder whether you can keep going another day.  You are hanging on by your finger nails.

Okay, maybe that’s not your experience.  But, it is mine.

This is a truth I don’t often allow to be seen or even willingly look at myself.  And I suspect that it’s something most of us share in common, even if we aren’t able to acknowledge it out loud.

I feel terrified to share my terror with you.

Yet I know it’s part of the path to releasing it.  Dive in.  Do what’s most scary.  Feel it.  Heal it.  So here I am.  Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. (Side note: that used to be the tag line of my blog when I called the blog the intrepid mompreneur, anyone remember those days?)

I find a myriad of ways to distract myself from the terror. Work. Drugs. Relationships. Conflict. Projections on to others or even the system as a whole.  Anything to get the fear outside of myself so I can avoid feeling the reality of it inside of me.

And yet some part of me has known that the only way to heal this terrified part of myself is to face it, to be with it, to feel it, deeply feel it and stop avoiding it.  It’s real. It’s a part of me.  I cannot be awake if I have pushed my terror into the shadows.

As you’ve probably heard me say (and I learned from Richard Grossman), you’ve got to feel it to heal it.

And what if you don’t?

My understanding is that when we bury our pain, avoid feeling it or pretend it does not exist that it will mushroom inside of us until it manifests into a health condition or other crisis that forces our attention onto it.  Waking up means we have to look at all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly so that we can clear out that which does not serve and make way for the true, the good and beautiful.

This past year and a half I have challenged myself to open my eyes and be willing to look at everything I have been avoiding.  To dive into those things I feared the most.

The other night, in ceremony, I faced my terror.  I sat with it.  I felt it.  Nobody could help me.  I was utterly alone.  At times, I wanted to die.  I questioned my relationship with God, saw the part of myself that lacks faith and is sure I cannot trust anyone or anything.

Finally, I allowed it to happen. I let go, stopped fighting, gave up, breathed into the fear and faced it.  There was no escape, no way to get away, the only way — through.

By morning, I awoke feeling lighter, less afraid, more aware.

I checked my email and found this:

What if, Ali, you’re already doing everything right, even though you’re not sure?
And the surprises along the way have only sped things up, even though it felt like they slowed you down?
And all that you want is now barreling towards you, even though you can’t see it?
And when it arrives it’ll exceed your every expectation, even though your dreams were huge?
Wouldn’t you be making some really weird noises about now? Whoohoo’ing, howling… maybe even whoohoo-howl-barking?
The Universe
(get your own notes from the Universe here)

It was so exactly perfect.  Because of course my terror is rooted in a belief that I have fucked it all up.  I’ve been too open.  I’ve shared too much.  I’ve told the truth and let you in behind the mystique and stopped playing the games that keep people hooked.

Or maybe I haven’t let you in enough and I only think I have.

And then I am reminded … I cannot fuck it up.  Neither can you.

Open to the mystery.  Stay focused on what you really want and worry less about how you get there.  Breathe.  Laugh.  Love.  Relax. Relax. Relax.


It’s all happening for you.

Can you believe that?

It’s the truth.

Let it in.



  1. ElizabethTuesday, December 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm 

    “My understanding is that when we bury our pain, avoid feeling it or pretend it does not exist that it will mushroom inside of us until it manifests into a health condition or other crisis that forces our attention onto it.” That’s precisely what happened to me. From a deep fear of facing who I was and what I was feeling came a life of avoiding, burying, distracting, until I was faced with an enormous life crisis. That turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, because the “carefully constructed” life that came crashing down was only that – a construction, and it was hurting me and those around me. For me, the answers lie in authenticity, mindfulness, transparency, and love. I don’t need to construct anything, just be who I am and live each day as wholehearted as I can. When I focus on my core values, the big pieces take care of themselves. I can’t predict how things will go, but I can live my life with the courage to face each thing as it comes.  <3 E

  2. Amy Neal MiyamotoTuesday, December 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm 

    Again you reveal how closely paralleled our paths have been this last year and a half – (although the details may look a bit different – the interior landscape looks hauntingly familiar).  Know I am supporting you as you continue to Dance in the Flames (as I have been doing.)
    Aho Ali!

  3. MiriamTuesday, December 6, 2011 at 6:17 pm 

    Appreciating your willingness to be present with all of it, letting the river run through, pierce you and flow on… 

    I was reminded of an experience and inquiry I shared in a blog recently about how far we can take gratitude; my experience showed me that when I can find gratitude for all that is, which might feel like such a stretch at the time, it facilitates a deeper degree of non-resistance for me, and as you say, the way on is through – love and blessings your way! Thank you for you.Miriam

  4. PresencecoachTuesday, December 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm 

    the beauty of opening to the mystery.. is that I’ve discovered, that they “terror” or whatever it is.. is NOT what i thought it was, when i open and relax and let it be as it is.. I find that it passes on by, self releasing, comes to pass and not to stay.. Love that commitment to open and let everything be clarified, there is this opportunity to see that everything that arises is simply an expression of this divine spacious intelligence.. ahhhh

  5. CCMWednesday, December 7, 2011 at 12:53 am 

    I don’t normally post but was greatly moved by your words
    and your raw honestly.  Never diminish or
    negate the importance of your work or the positive impact you have on the lives
    of fellow practitioners.  Indeed, twice
    now I have unexpectedly found your voice and you have articulated emotions that
    have had an enormous impact on me.   The Universe is pulling and driving me towards
    “something” and I only hope that I will be able to find the courage to be open
    and receptive to whatever that may be. 
    Thank you for your contribution that journey.

  6. RutheTuesday, December 13, 2011 at 5:28 am 

    Ali…you are a courageous healer. Thank you…this is spot on. As I step into the seeming void this is my mantra, ” Jump, and the net will appear.”

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