By birth, I had the privilege of being the “right kind of woman,” according to my religious family. From a young age, any shortcomings were promptly weeded out via a fundamentalist, evangelical doctrine that encouraged and spiritualized self- hatred.
By the age of 28, I came to realize I had been so well tamed by my worldview that I was perpetuating it on others. After all, oppression and tameness are systemized by compelling repressed people to perpetrate an even greater degree of oppression on scapegoats and "enemies." The system is generational, and the disillusionment I felt at this revelation was extreme.
I couldn't maintain the life I had been living. However, renouncing those old ideas about who the “right kind of people were," came with the risk of losing my family, my friends, and my marriage. I was terrified, but I had to ask myself what price I would pay to maintain the status quo.
Would I continue a legacy of racism, ableism, sexism, and all the other isms so I could keep an illusion of moral superiority?
If tameness comes through systems, then releasing what the old system gave you, be it security, belonging, status, or privilege, is the only way to set yourself free. That, my friend, is a long and ongoing process. I had to tear apart every mechanism for making meaning and purpose. I had to rip up my ideas and beliefs about who I was in the world, and what it means to be human. Nothing was safe on the road to rebuilding a more loving, just, and compassionate framework.
While some of my deepest fears came true, releasing the narrative of being, “the right kind of woman,” made me stronger, more loving, and more accepting. I ended the generational cycle of internalized and projected hatred. I became untamed.
How to Make A Courageous Choice
Acknowledge your Resistance
If you say an immediate, “No,” or “I can’t” to an idea, opportunity, or invitation, there’s a good chance you are scared. Fear avoids pain by blocking our access to curiosity which probes deeper into our reasoning.
Engage your Curiosity
Ask questions to help you determine the deeper reasons behind your resistance. Here are some examples: “Why do I believe I can’t do this?” “What am I protecting by saying no?” Sometimes it’s helpful to just keep asking yourself “Why?” until you find your real reasons for saying no. I know I’ve found my deepest reasons when the answer I give aches a bit.
Release the Uncontrollable
Fear craves control as a remedy for pain, but we cannot control everything, and using things we can’t control as a basis for decision making provides a false sense of security. Let those reasons for saying no go. That being said, if you have fears within your control, they become useful information for exploring ways to overcome your resistance. The act of releasing moves you from a decision based on avoidance and control to one based on possibility, joy, and courage—which is action in the face of fear.
Name your Conditions
Make a list of what you would need, not just to say “yes,” to the opportunity in question, but to say an enthusiastic yes. Give yourself the space to explore the potential positive outcomes. Find ways to alleviate the fears within your control while saying yes. Imagine what life could be like, research how to make these conditions a reality. Get really specific until you feel excited and joyful at the prospect of saying yes.
Make your choice
Now you have the full picture. Engaging a curious exploration of fear, releasing what you can’t control, and naming your conditions gives you access to what’s possible while weighing it against a realistic understanding of your responsibilities. With these data points, you can make a courageous choice—regardless of fear—that feels aligned with who you are, what you value, and where you want to go.
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Jen Brown is helping women overcome fear. With over a decade of experience, Jen’s learned the enormous freedom that comes from showing up in her most vulnerable, authentic way. She's discovered how following one’s fear leads to personal breakthroughs and harnessing courage brings deep personal healing. By connecting what a person says with the life they live and the stories they believe, Jen works with her clients to reframe their mindset and develop tools to set their souls on fire.