It is time to name your Dragon.
Bringing our fears out of the dark and into the light,
When we have a fear stuck in our head we think of it as us. This fear is really a past decision repeating itself to keep us safe, but we think it is real.
When I work with people and fears the first thing to understand is how the fear was born. It is not important to remember the very first incident where it started, but to have an idea on how it came to be.
The history of a fear:
Fear is a decision made, and then reinforced by our brain to keep us safe. The great thing about our brain is that it will do what it thinks we want it to, and what we tell it to. It doesn’t have a filter system so it relies on us to tell it what to do.
Imagine, grade three, standing in front of the class so excited to show off your big project. You have been working on it all week, you practiced what you are going to say and then you forget, you hesitate and even stutter a little. You can hear a snicker from the back of the class and then it escalates to laughter. You are frozen, and even though the teacher stops it in seconds it is too late. You are embarrassed and think to yourself, I am not good talking up front, I never want to do this again! Your brain files this away, hurt, embarrassed and fear, note to self: don’t do that again! Two years later your mother insists you stand up at your birthday party and say thank you to all the kids and parents who came…. this feels familiar, your brain yells No! Don’t do this! Hurt, embarrassed and fear rise up before you even stand up, this is fears way of protecting you. It’s ok, these are my friends you say to yourself, and on the way to the table beside the cake you stumble and fall, laugher erupts from kids and from the parents a general “ohh”. See, the brain says, told you not to do that. Note to self: really don’t do that again.
Every time you are in front of people in the future and you feel hurt, embarrassed and fear our brain adds it to the list of proof that you shouldn’t do that again. Of course during our life time you also stand up in public and it all goes right, but your brain has attached emotional significance to the opposite, it is more powerful.
Our fear is really out to protect us from feeling bad. It is simply doing what we told it to do.
Our fear is love misguided.
Fear is not us:
When we believe a fear is really us, it becomes a belief. We think it is the truth about us, and we forget that a 7 year old made a decision that is still running our thoughts. We are no longer that 7 year old (or the 2o year old or even the 45 year old) but we live as if we are. When we can talk to our fears and recognize it is not really us, it deflates it’s power.
Time to name your dragon:
I love this process! I have used this with many clients both young and old. I started using it with teens and kids, they love the images and it is fun, when I started using it with adults I heard how effective it is and again it adds levity to what can be overwhelming.
Give your fear a name, Gertrude, Frank, Emily, whatever rings true for you. And then give it a face and body, I happen to love the image of a dragon. Dragons are fierce and straight forward just like our fears. And if I had a castle I would want a dragon to guard the gates, and since our fears are trying to protect us I think it feels fitting for it to be a dragon.
Once it is named and has a personality, we can talk to it. (the fun comes in giving it a personality that is hard to take seriously, dress it up, how you see your dragon will change over time) The fear is now outside ourselves, it’s own entity and separate from who we are today. Now we can have a conversation with it.
Starting a conversation:
This is where our imagination comes into play. Imagination and intuition live in the same place. As you start talking to your dragon imagine a full conversation, ask it questions about why it came to be, what is it trying to do for you, what is it afraid will happen if you…. (get on a plane, speak in public, are successful, date the nice guy)
Imagine the answers, what does your dragon say back? What is your reply? Tell it what you are up to now, what your dreams are and why they are so important to you. Remember you are talking to a 7 year old dragon, speak simply and from the heart. During the conversation you may come to realize that your dragon has been trying to protect you from any number of hurts and upsets, and we can stop fighting against it and start reassuring it. You are no longer that same person who made the decision, your dreams and priorities have changed and evolved, it is time for the dragon to grow up too.
Once we are in conversation with our dragon we can understand that it is really love misguided, and we can reassure it that we appreciate it’s help, and really are listening. Just like a 7 year old who is being ignored it yells louder to get our attention. Now it has our attention, and reassurance, and understanding. At this point most people feel a sense of relief, and are no longer so attached to fighting against their fears.
Setting new ground rules:
Your dragon has been running the show for awhile now, and it is time to take back control. We don’t usually get rid of our fears totally, but we can decide who sits in the driver seat, sets the destination and controls the GPS. We wouldn’t let our 7 year old drive our car, so the dragon sits in the back and enjoys the scenery. Now that we have reassured our dragon it will feel better sitting back and enjoying what is to come, it now understands what your goals and dreams are and that it may take some risk in obtaining them. Your dragon will still speak up from time to time, but it will talk and not yell most of the time. Again, in times of stress or fear, have a conversation with it, it is not you.
A new adventure:
Now it is time to create a new dragon. This time we are going to create a playmate, one that is fierce and loyal and ready to fly you to new heights. This dragon is of your own making, this one is made of new proof that you can do anything you set your mind to. It is more understanding that sometimes you will fall, and it will be there to pick you up and breath fire to remove obstacles in your way.
Both dragons will still sit in the back seat, as you are in charge of the destination and the route you take. Both are supportive in their own ways.
Life is full of adventure when we travel with dragons!