Fear: Friend or Foe?

Pachad and Yirah

Tara Mohr’s book continues to impact me and push me to grow!  It’s as if every time I pick up Playing Big, I flip to the exact page containing a message I really need to hear.

Today’s message: Fear has more than one face — There’s a stark contrast between the fear you feel when your life or person is at risk and the fear you feel when you are taking or contemplating a risk.

Pachad (pack-add) and Yirah (yee-raa)

Most people’s lives are largely dictated by pachad, which is unfortunate because it can be all-consuming, with the potential to hold us back from greatness and life-changing experiences. Here’s an acronym I’ve recently come across for FEAR which really hits home for me:

  • REAL

Now isn’t that something?!? Seems we all deal with this false evidence creeping into our realities. So how does one learn to live with yirah as the guide? I don’t know the answer to that, as it is very subjective, but I do know there are a lot of helpful tips out there! I also know that when I lean-in, meaning I listen to my intuition and slow the head space to grow the heart space, some amazing transformations take place in my world. As an example, while I am still battling pachad every single time I am at the climbing gym, I am learning to lean-in by continuing to push past my FEARs and trust that the risks are worth the efforts. And guess what, all of us have this constant battle within us. Whether it be interpersonal relationships, professional development, work/life balance, exercise, nutrition, health, etc….no one is immune to FEAR.

“I often feel a great deal of fear when I sit down to write,” she says. “If I’m saying something that is controversial or even just really vulnerable and bold, it becomes really hard to overcome it and press send. If I think of it as yirah, as a kind of sacredness that is part of my creative process, as awe of what it is to share what I think with the world, then I’m able to actually enjoy it and get a little excitement out of it and even want to write the kind of pieces that bring out that feeling.”

OH MY GOSH, did Tara Mohr just say that?! It’s like we’re twins. LOL! Anyhow, drafting blog posts may seem like an easy task, however the vulnerable nature of sharing one’s ideas, thoughts, ramblings, etc. is terrifying, I promise you that. However, without even knowing it, I have become aware of yirah as part of this whole blogging process and my development through this. I do mostly feel excitement and relief from expressing my creative process, and have learned the fears are there to encourage me on this path despite self-doubt.

I’d like to leave you all with Tara Mohr’s thoughts in conclusion of the chapter A Very Old Way of Looking at Fear.

“The Big Ideas
1. In the Old Testament, there are two different words used for fear. Pachad is the fear of projected or imagined things. Yirah is the feeling that we have (1) when we suddenly come into possession of more energy than we are used to, (2) when we inhabit a larger space that we are used to, and (3) when we are in the presence of the divine.

2. For many women, playing big — whether we’re just considering an action or are in the midst of one — evokes both pachad and yirah.

3. Playing big is, in part, about shifting away from pachad and toward yirah. This means when we experience pachad we take a moment to intentionally change our state of being. We aim to live less affectedly by our pachad-type fears. At the same time, we seek out and embrace experiences of yirah.

4. Pachad arises when the ego perceives something that could threaten its fragile self-concept. Yirah arises when we step into something — or contemplate stepping into something — that transcends the ego and moves us into the higher self.

5. Our work with yirah is to notice it and welcome it for what it is.

6. Our work with pachad is to quiet it and manage it, because pachad-type fear often misleads us, causing us to retreat from an emotional risk or potential harm, thereby preventing us from sharing our voices, stretching out of our comfort zones, and pursuing our dreams.”


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