Fear - Lessons Learned from Running Rabbits

Old 08-10-2016, 03:55 PM
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Fear - Lessons Learned from Running Rabbits

Lessons Learned from Running Rabbits
By Kali Hawlk

When I think of my Dad, I think of him outside. One of the things I love most about him is how he’s full of knowledge about the natural world.

It’s not book knowledge, either. It’s the kind of knowledge that only comes after years of spending your days outside, running barefoot through grass, climbing trees and rocks, swimming in streams, wandering through woods.

Dad shared a lot of that knowledge with me. He taught me how to tell the difference between white and red oak trees. He explained all the ways you can tell a poisonous snake apart from a harmless one (and how to identify a number of each). He demonstrated how bats use echolocation to jet around by throwing rocks in the air and letting me see how the bats would swoop toward the rock to investigate.

And he told me about the rabbits. My Dad explained that when you startle a rabbit, he’ll bolt from his hiding place and take off running. It looks like he’s running away, but eventually, that rabbit will run in a circle right back to where he started. The rabbit does this because he’s returning to the last place he felt safe.

The memory of my Dad telling me about the rabbits kept swimming back to me over the last few months. I thought about it so often I started questioning whether or not I had made it up entirely.

But one night the realization of why I kept picturing running rabbits hit me right in the face: I’ve been the frightened rabbit for a long, long time.

I spent a lot of time and energy running myself (and the people around me) in circles. I was scared and didn’t understand what do to about everything I found to feel afraid of.

I got spooked and took off looking for — what? I didn’t even know. So I ran those circles, endless and without resolution, always starting back over where I took off from.

Plenty of people go through life like that — like me, like that frightened rabbit. You get spooked and you start running. You run through the same routine day after day. You make no progress, even though you produce so much energy to keep running back to the last place you felt safe.

You bolt, but eventually find yourself right back where you started. And this is a tricky loop to get yourself out of, because all that motion makes you feel as if you must be getting somewhere.

How confusing, then, to poke your head up when you pause to take a breather and realize that the scenery around you looks so familiar. So similar to what you’ve always seen.

What causes you to take off willy-nilly in the first place? For me, I ran my circles out of frustration — frustration from feeling like I didn’t know how to figure anything out, frustration from feeling stuck, frustration from feeling to scared to do anything about the situation.

I was afraid of the unknown that existed beyond the little closed loop I was furiously burning up.

Ultimately, that’s what this all comes back to: fear. Feeling scared and afraid. The differences we experience depend on what is we’re each so afraid of.

Perhaps you’re trying to outrun the fear of failure. Or maybe it’s the fear of actually succeeding that gets you running scared. Maybe you’re scared of trying to be great but coming up short. Fear of embarrassment or rejection could send you running in those circles, too. Or perhaps you’re scared of being wrong, ignored, met with indifference..

The list goes on and on.

If you can’t find something bigger than these fears, you’ll take all that bundled energy you have inside you — energy that could be spent doing extraordinary things with your life — and you’ll waste it running in circles back to the last place you felt safe.

That’s the best-case scenario for your inner frightened rabbit. The worst?

Your spirit, your creative self, the part of you who knows you can do great things, won’t be able to take the constant running. It will give out. There won’t be any more energy or effort, not even the wasted kind that goes into running those endless circles.

I finally, finally stopped running when I realized a scared rabbit in new, unfamiliar territory is better than a rabbit who, in all the efforts to get back to the last place perceived as safe, keeled over dead from exhaustion.

If you’re running yourself in circles, channel that energy into one direction. Hit escape velocity and rocket off into the distance.
Fear can drive you in endless circles if you let it take the wheel. Who’s steering your ship?

You’ll still feel afraid. And you must understand that fear is not an excuse to keep seeking the last place you felt safe. Instead, accept that fear will always ride along with you no matter how much you do, achieve, accomplish, or make.

Which means we all have two choices.

The first: we can feel scared and all the negative, unproductive things that come with fear and channel that nervous energy into pointless circles that get us no where.

The second: we can feel scared and all the negative, unproductive things that come with fear — and shrug and say, “well I’m doing the thing anyway.”

Life is new and different and super scary when you stop seeking safe places. But people don’t do extraordinary things in safe places.

So it’s down to you to decide: are you going to let fear dog you and ride you in circles into the ground?

Or are you going to slam the breaks, buck fear off your back, and start making the decisions about which direction you want to go?

This post is dedicated to my Dad, who taught me about the natural world — and about how to find and orient myself in every sense.

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Lessons Learned from Running Rabbits
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Old 08-10-2016, 04:14 PM
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This is absolutely wonderful ~ enlightening and powerful.

Thank you. ♥
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Old 08-11-2016, 03:53 AM
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Awe inspiring brother
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Old 08-11-2016, 04:44 AM
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Thank you, Dee!

Inspiring indeed.
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Old 08-11-2016, 05:09 AM
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Thanks Dee. Want to read this later, not able to keep up with anything today.
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Old 08-11-2016, 10:41 AM
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thank you for sharing that...
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Old 08-11-2016, 08:36 PM
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Really, really good - thanks.
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Old 12-16-2016, 02:26 PM
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