By Sarah Bird
“Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.” Bern Williams
Last week, at the funeral of a friend, I was reminded of the power of the human spirit. Not once did I hear her complain about her illness; in fact, it came as a big shock when she died, as she never let on how ill she was.
Her death brought to mind her immense courage and her will to live life to the full. Only a few weeks beforehand, she had been to the Heineken Cup Final in Edinburgh and cheered on her Leinster heroes. I can’t help thinking that she and they were made of the same stuff.
On the day of her funeral, I made a promise to live my life fully every day – to appreciate all that I have. Each and every one of us deserves that; it’s part of our birthright. And furthermore, to help us live a fuller life, each of us has access to incredible reserves of human strength and courage.
I have witnessed this all over the world. In 2006, I found myself on a hillside in Pakistan after the earthquake, where all that remained of people’s homes was rubble.
And yet, in the middle of this carnage, an 80-year-old woman, who had lost 35 members of her family, smiled at me. The smile lasted only a moment, but the spirit that shone out from her in that instant touched my heart as I saw her strength and willingness to go on.
I can’t help thinking that this most magnificent aspect of our human makeup is sadly lacking at the moment. Here in Ireland, we may not be facing war, famine or any major natural disaster, but we’re facing an even bigger foe – fear itself.
Everywhere you look, there are people who are fearful for their job, for their ability to keep paying the mortgage, for their ability to put food on the table. And while I don’t for one minute under-estimate the trauma of unemployment, the reality is that about 88% of the workforce still have a job – and most of those will continue to do so even if the economy continues to worsen.
Despite this, they’re being crippled by fear. It’s not a fear of what’s happening right now, but what they imagine might happen at some time in the future.
The antidote to all this involves two complementary actions. The first of these is to actually realize that you are being fearful. Have a look at your body language – are you withdrawing into yourself, have you suddenly become ‘smaller’ because your posture is controlled by fear?
If the answer is yes, it’s then a matter of overcoming your fears. Because when your fear has gone, you will inevitably get in contact with that part of your human spirit that can conquer Everest or survive an earthquake – or even face up to a terminal illness.
Much of the courage of the woman in Pakistan came from the fact that she no longer worried about the possibility of losing everything – it had already happened. And in being freed from her fear, she was determined to face the world with a smile.
On a smaller, though no less important scale, I treat hundreds of ordinary people every year who are seeking to overcome fears, phobias and trauma that are restricting their lives. I have unlimited respect for them the moment they step inside my door, as they’re making a statement that they’re no longer willing to be governed by fear and that they’ve decided to fight back.
There are a number of very powerful and very successful energy psychology techniques available that can help us overcome fear. Chief among those that I myself use are EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and TAT (Tapas Acupressure Technique). But whatever methods you use to address your fears, it all starts with the decision to be free and with a commitment to get back in touch with our true human spirit.
Let’s start telling ourselves how strong we are, how we have survived times like these before, how we will survive this meltdown. And let’s not forget that there truly is a hero within all of us who can help us do it.
Sarah Bird is a Personal Development Consultant, Mentor and leading practitioner of Energy Psychology Techniques and Non-violent Communication. For information on consultations and workshops, log onto www.sarahbird.ie