Here are a few definitions to start…because re-learning some vocabulary is always healthy, right?
fear (noun) – an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat
fearlessness (adjective) – without fear; bold or brave
courage (noun) – mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
calmness (noun) – freedom from motion or disturbance; stillness. Freedom from agitation, excitement, or passion; tranquility; serenity
curiosity (noun) – a strong desire to know or learn something; a strange or unusual object or fact
Originally, this blog was going to be a strong rebuttal to the Washington Post article titled “Meat is Horrible” with The Savory Institute’s data that cattle are actually helping to reverse climate change. Watch Alan Savory’s TED talk, it's definitely worth your time.
I resent things that make me fearful of living, like eating meat or climate change. I prefer awareness and make specific positive life choices, because I know it matters.
Instead, I am going to share a story and lesson learned on a recent family trip.
As you know, our family transitioned to a whole foods, naturally gluten-free lifestyle 3 years ago. This journey has led me to many great things, not the least of which is a healthier body and mind. “PALEO” gave me the knowledge to take power over my health and my family’s health.
I am grateful for “PALEO” for giving me that.
Yet, it made me fearful; of gluten, sugar, trans fats, soy, and dairy. It robbed me of connections to some family and friends because I was no longer blissfully ignorant about my food and lifestyle choices. Our new lifestyle complicated travel and new experiences.
It’s a conundrum of sorts.
In all fairness, I had many fears even before “PALEO.” Here’s a sample list of things I was fearful of even before:
This is only a partial list of course. You may or may not identify with any of these. The only difference currently is that now I have a curiosity to explore these fears. In some ways, I have turned these fears into my own form of bravery to achieve my goals. I look at these fears and realize that I needed them. Without them, I could not be fearless today, nor healthy.
Let me explain this a little more by sharing a few stories.
We recently returned from a family vacation in Colorado where we stayed with one family (not paleo of course) and visited with another family (also, not paleo). Both families were ever so gracious in accommodating our needs without fuss. It may be onesided, but I think the entire motley crew all had a wonderful time, despite the extra attention to eating.
The curious nature of the families led to a trip to the Garden of the Gods and hikes to explore the natural beauty of Colorado. The Garden of the Gods is worth a visit should you find yourself in Colorado Springs. It is in Colorado that I learned the importance of fear and fearlessness.
Imagine a large red rock boulder standing high in front of you. Do you stand and think;
1. “That looks cool. I think I am going to climb to the top to see the view!” (fearless) or
2. “That’s a tall boulder. I bet it would hurt if you fell from that height. I am going to walk to the other side to see if there is a safe way to get up and down so I can see the view.” (fear)
Yes, I would choose a fear response.
Yet, when I watched the children react to the same thing, some chose fear and some chose fearlessness. My middle child jumped off a rock, which from afar seemed like a cliff, yet he knew exactly what he was doing…safely. My oldest, was methodical the whole way with a serious look on his face; rather, he climbed with calmness. Yet both were courageous.
Another hike in Colorado with the other family was in the heat of the day into unknown territory. We weren’t quite sure we were on the correct trail to lead to the bridge over the creek, but we persevered. At one point, we stopped to have a snack near the creek.
How would you respond to the creek?
1. “That might have bugs in it. It may be rushing by too quickly and I may lose my footing. I sure am hot though. I think I want to look for a safe location to cool off.” (fear) or
2. “Wow. Look at that creek. It looks so refreshing. Let me see if I can catch some bugs while I cool off in the water.” (fearless)
Fear versus fearless…which is the healthiest response?
“The only thing we have
to fear is fear itself.”
– Franklin D Roosevelt
“The enemy is fear.
We think it is hate,
but, it is fear.”
Although these two quotes are favorites of mine, I now see that they are missing something....curiosity.
Before this trip, I really felt like my fear was getting in my way of living life to it’s fullest. For sure, I need to keep it in check. In the end I realized when I looked back at the few photos of these amazing children I realize that both responses are in fact….healthy.
Each one of the kids ended up in the same place…on top of the boulder and in the creek regardless of their initial fear or fearless response. Some jumped in or climbed quickly while the others took their time to plan. Albeit different paths (or recipe), they were all there, in the end….together.
“PALEO” made me fearful in some ways yet fearless in others. My eyes are opened to the assets and liabilities of fear and fearlessness.
I noticed my fearless child ended up with fear. When he tried climbing the boulder and stumbled, you could see the fear in his eyes. His fear was not that he fell and could get hurt, but that he wouldn’t reach his goal. Fear lives in all of us, even those that live fearlessly. His courage allowed him to be curious about why he failed so that he could try again.
Health for all of us, has the same ingredients; eat well, move well, sleep well, and soar on. The only thing that separates us is the recipe that is based on our fear or fearlessness to proceed to health. Be curious about your health…because knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss.
Fear or fearlessness may slow you down, but curiosity will keep you going.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove immobility induced by fear and carelessness induced by lack of fear.
Replace with curiosity. Ignorance may be blissful but knowledge is empowerment. Take it slow or fast, but safely.
Restore a healthy…imperfect…LIFE.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On…health is possible with or without fear.
Photo Credit: Meredith Johnson and Sara Zietz. Used with permission.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.