“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”~ Scarlett O’Hara
If ever there were a mantra for the Fire Fleer, Scarlett’s quote would be it. When life is too painful, the Fire Fleer, according to Dr. Martha Beck, wants to avoid letting the feelings … the knowing … the thoughts land. A Fire Fleer tends to be in perpetual motion, engaged in lots of activity, and possessing an outward focus. Looking outward, rather than inward, is much easier and accomplishes the Fire Fleer’s greatest desire — avoidance of experiencing pain.
I have gold medalled Fire Fleeing.
Fire Fleeing has been my go-to choice for weathering life’s storms. And, as an over achiever, I have found ways to make my Fire Fleeing to be not only socially acceptable, but also a handy avenue for getting lots of shit done. Like all unhealthy behaviors, though, the time came when the bill was due, and my once-tried and true defense mechanism became an albatross on my life and on my creativity.
The Fire Fleer lives by the notion that one’s fleeing is a sure fire way to remain in emotional safe harbor. That’s the whole point, right? Stay “safe.” I know you already know the punchline: what you push down in one area of your life comes popping up somewhere else — it is law. Like a malicious line of code in a software program, all of those trapped/unacknowledged emotions and feelings are running in the background, draining you of available bandwidth, energy, freedom, and joy.
The majority of creative blocks stem from neglected feelings. In fact, the false notion that many of us hold, “I am not an artist,” is a product of the same, untended, emotional malware.
So, how do you stop being a Fire Fleer? Martha Beck says first, we must stop doing, running, and avoiding. And then, we are to walk right into the Ring of Fire — that is, walk right toward the very thoughts and feelings we have so cleverly avoided — and FEEL EVERYTHING.
Let’s do a quick inventory.
Get your journal and a pen and place both next to you. While seated, close your eyes and do a body scan while asking yourself the following:
Am I feeling guilt?
Am I feeling shame?
Am I feeling insecure?
Am I feeling the need to control?
As you ask yourself these questions, let each seep into your body and just sit with what comes up. If you are like me, you may want to downplay anything that comes up, immediately begin to rationalize it, or go right into some kind of action to avoid letting the awareness fully land. Do your best to just sit there and feel the feelings all the way through. Set a timer for 20 minutes and ask your Artist (that’s you!) where you feel the majority of your energy is flowing.
After 20 minutes, reach for your journal and pen and begin writing. What came up for you? What was happening in your body during this process? Where are you noticing your energy is currently flowing toward?
If you are a longtime Fire Fleer, at first, this is going to feel like Hell on Wheels. Hang in there and don’t turn back. It does get easier.
Your reward for a more conscious, fully-felt life is not only more peace, but also a truly precious connection to yourself and to everyone else. The creative energy that had been slowly draining out of your life returns like crocuses — bursting with color — in spring.