The Only Way Is Through

Posted by Dustin Harber on Jul 19, 2018
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[We had a such a beautiful Awakin Circle yesterday. Below is a part of my opening.]

What I really want to talk to you about is the serendipity of me opening our circle today.

When I first read this piece by Anthony de Mello, I was chuckling at the part about graduating from elementary school and giving up your toys. And I thought, you know, I really hope to graduate from the Awakin circle elementary school and open one of these days. I have read the passage, I passed out water for dinner, done Smile Card stuffing, I've even opened for other Awakin Circles in other cities, but never in the mother-ship here at Aunty Harshida and Uncle Dinesh's house. :)

In truth, I was actually terrified of the opportunity. I would always RSVP last minute so there was no chance that I would get invited to open. That's how terrified I was to open. But then, today, I RSVP'd late but still somehow got the invite to share!

So many people have inspired me for all these years that I've been coming through, and I really thought that I need to be similarly inspiring and, you know, do a really good job. When I was thinking, "What am I going to talk about today?", my first thought was fear of public speaking. But that's a very common opening, I realized, and not original enough.

Then, I remembered that two months ago I sent this picture of a pill bottle to my best friend. In this bottle was an anti-anxiety medication that I had been taking for 10 years.

In my last job, I had to speak in a group every week. Not more than like 30 people at a time. I would take the pills every single time. I even knew everyone super well, and I'm speaking to the same group every time, but still, I would be terrified. And every time, I would lose a minimum of one night of sleep, if not two. Medication didn't really make it better. The physical symptoms like heart palpitations and things were better, but the mental anguish was still there -- obsessed with how I doing, how the speech was being delivered, attached to the final outcome. I did this for 10 years, and it never got better.

It wasn't until I started meditating that I was able to do deeper and realize, "Oh, I have this fear of rejection. I have a fear of abandonment."

I don't have that job anymore, but like I said, two months ago, I found this pill bottle and I texted my best friend. I told her, "I'm dumping out this bottle right now." From then on, I decided that whenever I talk publicly, I'm just going to submit myself to the experience. If I'm scared, I'm scared. If I think I do a bad job, that happens. I will learn from it. If I'm uncomfortable, I'm uncomfortable and I will no longer use these "toys", to use the author's metaphor, to run away from the experience.

Um, and this is actually the first time have talked publicly since I got rid of those pills.

And I'm really happy that I made that choice. I'm so grateful to ServiceSpace and the Mehta family for giving me this proverbial pool to jump in and grateful to be invited to jump in the pool. And I'm grateful for every single one of you for being here to warm the water because it really helps.

For our circle, a seed question might be, "When was a time where you were in pain and trying to wake up? What has that struggle been like?"

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