Thinking About Fear On My Oprahversary
My Oprahversary* recently passed: it has been one year since I met Oprah Winfrey at Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend in Washington, D.C., in September 2014. Meeting Oprah was surreal and truly a dream come true, and listening to her speak for almost two hours was captivating and empowering.
What has really impacted my life on a day-to-day basis though was one specific thought I heard during the weekend.
In addition to Oprah, four other thought leaders joined her for the two-day event and each took the stage individually – Pastor Rob Bell, author Elizabeth Gilbert, poet Mark Nepo and life coach Iyanla Vanzant.
It was both Oprah and Rob Bell who spoke about a concept that has made the biggest impact on my life. Marianne Williamson talks about this idea in A Return to Love, and it’s part of A Course in Miracles.
Anyone I’ve talked to about the Oprah event has most likely heard me share this concept, and I’ve thought about it almost every day throughout the past year to examine myself and to process and understand the actions of those around me.
It is simple, but life-changing.
Every action is based either in love or in fear.
Grace, respect, kindness, forgiveness, openness, cooperation, collaboration and positive feelings are based in love.
Negative emotions, anxiety, disrespect, anger, jealousy and hopelessness are based in fear.
I think about this with my own behavior and feelings; when I feel stressed or when something really bothers me, I try to ask myself why and identify what it is I am really feeling. If something’s affecting me, why is that? Of what am I afraid? The fear is always there – sometimes very deep – and I find it when I take the time to really think it through. Occasionally this process is quick for me; other times, it’s longer; and sometimes it does not happen at all. It’s a work in progress. Michael Singer (author of The Untethered Soul) says, “Problems are an opportunity to really look at what’s going on inside.” I think fear is this same opportunity.
Understanding this has helped me in my connections and interactions with others. Previously, I may have taken something personally in a moment with a friend or a colleague that now I will often (not always…) see very differently.
When someone is operating out of fear, I know it has nothing to do with me. I may be in the crossfire, but it’s not personal. This has been liberating in another way too: realizing that it’s my choice who’s in my life – with whom I spend time, with whom I communicate and with whom I interact. I have learned that operating out of fear creates stress and tension not only for the individual in fear, but also, on a different level, for everyone around him or her.
I do not want to operate out of fear, and I try hard not to.
I do not want to be around people who operate out of fear. It is unpleasant and tense, and I don’t want that. I can make a different choice.
Marianne Williamson says, “If you know what changes a heart, you know what changes the world.”
I know for sure it’s not fear.
Over a year later, I still feel so much gratitude that Washington, D.C., was one of the eight cities on the Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend tour. It was an incredible experience – for the insights mentioned here – and so many others. Since then, I’ve also had the opportunity to meet Rob Bell and hear him speak again. When I think about Oprah Winfrey, I think about all that I’ve learned from her and because of her, and I know for sure I am a better person because of it.
*Thank you, Emily Peterson, for coining the “Oprahversary” term! ❤