For a large chunk of history, people put dragons on maps. These dragons represented both the mystery and the potential danger of the unknown. Yet despite their presence, we pushed out and explored. We removed the dragons from the map and took control of the mystery.
Recently I was thinking about these dragons and how they relate to my life. For a long time, there were many aspects of my life that remained hidden in the realm of dragons. Whenever I thought about my fears, my emotions or my dreams I'd get scared.
I knew there was more to life than what I was seeing, but I didn't know what that was. So instead of looking for a different path, I continued to wander the same well-worn rut over and over. I remained stuck for years, dating the same women, taking the same jobs, and making the same mistakes again and again.
Off the Path
Then something changed. Something shoved me off my path and forced me into a part of myself I didn't know. And I discovered it wasn't as scary as I thought. And so, I started going deeper. I started exploring all the parts of myself that had remained hidden. I began replacing my dragons with the lines and landscapes of a map.
And while this map still had cliffs and pits, at least I knew where they were. This meant that sometimes I could avoid them and even when I didn't, I could usually find my way out. This taught me one simple truth: Awareness gives you the power to slay dragons.
It's easy to think you're lacking some skill or technique you need to change, but all you need to change your life is the willingness to open your eyes and look.
Here are a few things awareness has taught me:
The Truth About Fear
Sometimes you avoid facing your fears because they seem TOO BIG. But because darkness obscures the size of things, it's hard to know the truth.
Your fears might be BIG, or they might not. The best way to find out is to get to know your fears. If they are big then you can get help to facing them, and if not, then you can learn to face them on your own.
How to Take Responsibility
We've all made choices we aren't proud of. But when you do something wrong, guilt and fear not only weigh you down, they can prevent you from taking responsibility.
If instead of hiding your mistakes you own them and make amends, you can learn valuable lessons and improve your level of trust with yourself as well as others.
How To Be Confident
It can be embarrassing to admit you're afraid or that you have doubts. But when you reveal your secret fears, not only will people understand, they'll often admit to sharing some of the same misgivings.
This will help you feel less alone and encourage you to be who you really are.
Tame Your Fears
I've met a lot of people with hidden dragons. Usually they hide in some corner of their lives for years preventing these amazing people from being everything they could be. These dragons keep them from taking risks, from going after their dreams, and from being themselves.
A lot of the work I do with clients is around finding these hidden places and shedding some light on them. I'm amazed again and again how the simple act of bringing something into awareness creates huge change in these stuck places.
I've seen people lose 40+ lbs of weight, escape old karmic patterns with their parents, take on new challenges, and achieve great clarity in their lives. Every time it happens it feels like magic to me.
I want to issue you a challenge to face your dragons.
Stop avoiding those parts of your life that you'd prefer to avoid. Make the difficult phone call, leave the boring job, put on your shoes, and head out the door.
What you face will be unexpected, but it'll be worth it. My dragons controlled me for far to long. Don't let dragons control your life, because the longer you wait the more powerful they become.
Slay your dragons while they're young. Face your fears. And be willing to look at your life with an unflinching gaze. If you do, then you won't regret it.
Toku is a mindfulness expert, speaker, and coach. He lived for over two years at a Zen monastery and now helps passionate people who are good at what they do, be the best at what they do. This post was originally published on MindFitMove.