Can Fear Be Your Ticket to Growth? You Bet.

Don't tell anyone, but I was really scared.

It's a pretty straightforward procedure, not without risks by any means but one that many people suffering from atrial fibrillation choose to undergo. It's called electrical cardioversion, a process of shocking the heart back into normal sinus rhythm, and I was having none of it. No way! I decided in all my wisdom and profound knowingness that after a five-day hospital stay, I would remain in active afib, as well as active misery, for another 46 days.

That was bright, wasn't it?

But I was scared.

So I resisted.

And resisted. 

And all the while I had this nagging feeling that I needed to do this, even though I didn't want to.

When You're Hanging out in the Pit of Stagnation AKA My Life Has Come to a Complete Stop

I don't want to go too metaphysical on you here, but what ailed me was not confined to my heart issue. I had a life issue, a big one at that, and I wasn't dealing with it.

Now, we all have issues, I mean, who doesn't? (Well, maybe Dr. Phil and Pope Francis but the rest of us...) And the biggest, most monumental one for me at the time was stagnation. There was no inner or outer movement in my life, no progression or expansion. I was stale.

Growth Is Not Optional, It's a Requirement

A dear friend who knew of my state of stagnation–because I droned on about it incessantly– suggested that perhaps the cardioversion would not only reset my heart, but it would also reset me and offer a symbolic "fresh start."

Wise man.

I knew he was right. There was a new path waiting for me if I would just take this next step.

Whatever phase of life we're currently in, our next step is always growth. We're here to learn, to try new things and let go of old things, to succeed and to fail, to make some noise in the world. We're here to keep moving forward even when we don't feel like it, even when we're afraid.

"But I don't want to."

I was beginning to sound like an annoying five-year-old.

And so...tick tock, tick tock, the days were passing, and I was waiting for my heart to do what it had always done before: convert itself.

But not this time. My heart had other ideas; while I was waiting for it, it was waiting for me.

And somewhere around the 47th miserable day, it dawned on me that life was waiting, too. And she wasn't waiting patiently:

You don't want to do it. So what?

You do it because you need to.

You do it because you have to.

You do it because it's the best thing for you.

You do it in spite of your fear.  

I was standing at the edge of a new precipice, and I could jump, or not.

Are We Supposed to Do the Thing We're Afraid Of?

Not always. 

Fear can be our protector and savior, shielding us from danger. It's a "gift," warning us of violence, according to Gavin de Becker, author of the best seller The Gift of Fear.  

In my mind, maybe fear was preventing a scary outcome, the scariest of all scary outcomes: death. But that was a remote possibility and highly unlikely. And I knew it. Still, I wanted to believe that fear was keeping me alive. What I didn't realize was that I was keeping fear alive–and it was out of control, paralyzing me, leaving me unable to do what I knew deep down inside was required for my well-being.

And so, stagnation remained the order of the day, and feeling wretched became my new normal. 

Was this one of those feel the fear and do it anyway situations? 

Kind of. But this was really more of a you're-super-sick-and-the-benefits-outweigh-the-risks-so-do-what-you- gotta-do situation. I simply could not continue to function at 25 percent capacity. Lying in bed every chance I got was not exactly the vision I had for my life. Once I acknowledged the reality of my condition and the nature of my fear, I was ready to proceed.

My heart needed the electrical shock–and so did my life. I needed the outer movement in order to bring about an inner shift. It was time to break the standstill, time to do the thing that I thought I could not do so that I could get back in the game. It was time to grow.

I'd Like to Thank Steve Harvey...

So, on the 52nd day of this journey, my friends got me to the Cardiac Procedure Unit.

Steve Harvey also got me there.

The night before, I caught him on TV and, lo and behold, he was talking about facing your fear. "When you don't address fear, it's behind you and you're afraid to turn around."

I knew he was talking to me.

Mr. Harvey recommends that as soon as we become afraid, we "turn around and address it."   

I did.

Thank you, Steve Harvey.


*P.S. And a big thanks to my doctor who also got me there. Not only are you an ace, but you listened to me when I needed it most.