"The things you fear happening are also the things that will help you grow"

One of my first memories growing up in Rwanda was when the village decided to cut down two huge Kapok trees. Just before the trees were felled, someone realised that they were going to land on the chicken coop (and much more importantly, the chickens).

My heart was beating as I watched a man risked his life to rescue the chickens, literally just before the trees destroyed them.

Looking back, so many of my childhood memories centre on moments of drama; the falling kapok trees, getting run over, falling into a trench of molasses (treacle), getting lost in an airport etc. Those were the moments (and there were quite a few) when my brain was swinging into flight and fight.

As I got older, these defining moments tended to be less about danger to my physical body and more about threats to my sense of self and my ego. That didn’t make them any less painful. Quite the opposite.

Being rejected by friends, passed over for promotions and later living through a divorce all felt like existential threats that struck at the core of whether I was of value to the world.

If I could go back, I would say to my younger self, "hey, the things you fear happening are also the things that will help you grow and that your own sense of value can only come with practice of self-acceptance."

I would also say "hey, there is no script you have to follow. You can make it up as you go along and it's more interesting that way!"

And that "if you keep giving yourself to the present moment, you can loosen the tentacles of anxiety and self-doubt and find the beauty and joy in being alive – even when the trees are falling.’

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