We are not alone-notes from a workshop on fear and failure

“The thing I realized,” she said, “is that I’m not alone. I feel so much better than I did when I got into the room. When everyone started shouted how fear feels to them I knew I wasn’t alone.”

As I mentioned yesterday I had a workshop on the fear of failure at a local co-working space. The room was filled with entrepreneurs. It might sound fancy but these are people just like you and me who are bucking the trend of working for someone else to blaze a trail that (often) gives back and gives them more meaning in their work and life.

It’s not always an easy path to choose. Yes it has its upside but like all upsides it has it downside as well. One can feel lonely in the world and the mind might tell you that you are the only one who feels like this.

This doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurs by the way.  There’s likely not a single one among us that hasn’t felt alone at one time or another, especially likely if you are here reading this, you are a sensitive soul that feels so much.

Yes, some of us feel it more that others for sure.  And for the sweet soul on the other end of the phone yesterday, she was one who was feeling terribly alone, meanwhile life is throwing down gauntlets and challenges in her path.

Then we found ourselves, this sweet soul, me and about another 15 sweet souls, in the same room.  I had asked the question, “What does fear look, feel and taste like?”  After 30 seconds of scribbling down their words, I asked them to shout out their answers…

And they did, one after the other, one over the other, this thing we call fear has a lot of tastes, feelings and sensations…but more than that, that one exercise showed us all that we are never alone.  Most of us had never met before, yet here we were united in the feeling of fear, yes the things we fear are unique and personal to each of us, but the feeling, that is universal.

And as the sweet soul said to me, we are not alone. What a relief it can be to realize you are not the only freak on the planet.  You are not the only that feels the way you do.  In Buddhist Tonglen teachings this very thought would be taken as a practice-very simply put, when you feeling the feeling of being alone you acknowledge that others feel the way you do, that there is a common human-ness in this very connection.  And that is  super simplification of the practice but hopefully you get the idea.

And what better way to remember, other than being among like minded people than to recall this quote when you feel lonesome in your thoughts and feelings?

I’ve always loved the image this quote brings to mind. I imagine all of us howling to the same moon, what a cacophony that would be to behold.

In truth we are all howling to the moon, we just don’t (necessarily) know it.  It can be easy to think we are the lone wolf out there in the world of “others”. As a lone wolf we (often) feel like we are deficient, somehow broken or missing a vital ingredient that the “others” seem to have.

You are not broken, you don’t need fixing, and you most certainly are not alone.  I’m saying this as much to myself as I am to you.  It is easy to say we are not alone, and to believe it most of the time, but in the time of deepest challenge, when you knees are grazed and you’re spitting out dust, it can be easy to forget that it is ALL part of the process.

For the past 18 years I have hung onto a mantra that came to me in the midst of my biggest challenge: I am where I need to be in order to go where I need to go.  Perhaps you want to tuck this mantra into a fold in your heart so it will be close when you need it.

And the next time to feel lonely take a look over your shoulder and see me howling at the same moon with you, I am not alone, you are not alone and we are not alone.

Alone we can do sooo much, together we can do so much more.  Keep howling my love, I am right there with you.

Always in love, see you tomorrow.

Sat nam

Shiv