General, The Journey

Learning to love my fear


Recently I was asked to complete a short introduction of myself, and share that document with a group of others, who were signed up to attend a weekend personal development workshop. A kind of a “check-in” to help us to build an understanding of where each of us was at before we began the journey.  One of the questions was what’s your old story?

What’s your old story?

This brought up some discomfort in me, a kind of like an “ahhh shit, not this crap” feeling.

Part of the process of the weekend is to look beneath that story, so this is a little of the story of me and maybe why I reacted in the way I did…

I have a communication disability – dyslexia. More specifically I experience dysgraphia defined as:

“Dysgraphia is a deficiency in the ability to write, primarily handwriting, but also coherence. Dysgraphia is a transcription disability, meaning that it is a writing disorder associated with impaired handwriting, orthographic coding (orthography, the storing process of written words and processing the letters in those words), and finger sequencing (the movement of muscles required to write). It often overlaps with other learning disabilities such as speech impairment, attention deficit disorder, or developmental coordination disorder

This condition was a barrier for me in school. During a class I could read and understand the subject matter clearly, however when I came to write a story or an essay or draw a picture, I would happily produce a piece that had all my best efforts involved. When compared to my peers it contained spelling mistakes, words in the wrong place causing grammatical errors or failed to make logical sense, ie the syntax was all wrong.

This began as no major problem, no marks are given on drawings and everyone learns to spell and use grammar by making mistakes right?!  It started as an issue for me was when I was graded or marked on my ability to produce written material when compared with my classmates.

I would have my handwritten work returned to me, with errors highlighted in red pen, question marks around areas that were incorrect. The meaning of what I had to say was lost in the detail of the language on paper. And the marks I got were rarely matched with how I felt I understood the material produced.

I now understand that I developed a habitual belief that I was not understood, that my writing was not good enough, that I was less than my classmates, that I was not enough and would never, no matter how many lines I had to write as punishment, or no matter how many times I re-wrote an essay, no matter what I did, I believed that “I would never be enough”.

“I believed that: “I would never be enough”

I feel the way this manifests in my life in more ways than when I put pen to paper, or fingers on a device. In particular to have my ideas seen and judged by others.  So when I was asked to write something about myself what really happened was my fear was brought up.

This would get worse when doing essays or exams under a time of stress, as I would fear the mistakes that I was making were going to be judged and this would mount as I was under time pressure to deliver my ideas to paper. My body would experience this fear in a physical way, leaving me anxious.

This triggered my old story as this was a really big problem for me, during those years I had a constant struggle to express myself via any handwritten work, for fear my mistakes would be highlighted.

These low marks compared to my classmates led me to me to believe that I was less than average, not as good, or stupid. Now I see that that the importance that I had placed on being seen an “average Joe”. This has led me into a habitual self-limiting belief about who I am.

A thought pattern which has been with me for perhaps 30 years now. What’s becoming apparent to me is that this shows up in my life in ways that are not at all related to my ability to communicate via letters on a page. That all this time I’ve believed that: “I will never be enough”.

the thinker
the thinker


So when I dropped into what feeling was behind that, I remembered that a wise man once shared this concept with me, and a year later it has cemented itself in my understanding, because he asked me this question:

“Is it coming from fear or love? because that’s the only two things that drive us”

Writing and posting this blog is my way of doing my part in a process of stepping through fear, and into love. When I say love it’s not necessarily the love that we may automatically think of, such as the love in movies like  “love actually” or in “the notebook” love, although those relationships are amazing!

I’m attempting what could be one stage before this, an acceptance of love for yourself or of yourself. A love for myself.

Do you remember the start of this blog? “What’s the old story?”  Here is the second question that was proposed “What’s the gold that you bring to this weekend?”

“What’s the gold that you bring to this weekend?

The original title I had for this blog was “Fear v Love” and that I suppose explains the concept of the feeling that is most alive in my life right now. There are two competing forces in my life. One that comes from the heart and is the creative force of life like the blood that courses through our arteries, and one that holds us back from a true expression, like the tightness in our tired overworked muscles.

As I sat and mulled over my first draft and this question,  it came to me that that for me it was about changing the relationship that these two forces have. That maybe there wasn’t a competition between the two, that one would not win against the other in a zombie vs dragons epic battle. The force that I am backing to win is love and I need to accept that I will always have this opponent and that I need to learn to love my fear,  that my opponent might actually be an ally.  A wise friend recently gave me a piece of gold and said that everything we want in life sits on the other side of fear.


“Everything we want in life sits on the other side of fear’


What I know is that for the last 30 years that I have been afraid to write anything like that reply to that email. And have my written word seen, or be seen. To appear to be vulnerable to anyone but certainly by people who I respect.

I have been scared to ask for help, afraid to let true relationships build, afraid to trust, afraid to love or be loved. I have lived in fear, been anxious, depressed, exhausted, overtrained, driven to break down.  All because I was never seen as enough, by the most important opinion in the world, by me.

This idea and habitual thinking pattern has perhaps driven my actions, affected my choices, words and most importantly my relationships with myself and others subconsciously for most of my life. Now that I’m becoming aware of this, now that it’s becoming part of my conscious “awake” self what do I do about that now?

I am learning to love my fear, to change my story, to trust, to ask for help, to love and to be loved.

I’ve blamed others for my feelings, for their ability to get or understand me, instead of being aware and owning that belief which is at my core of my being that truth which is actually my gold: right now, I am enough.

“right now, I am enough”

I am discovering the belief that instead of “not” actually I am enough, enough to respect and honour myself and accept my own love.


Love is the natural in between

I’m able to be vulnerable and share this after being supported by many who have helped me along this path. I am enjoying a massive feeling of gratitude to all who have helped me on this journey so far. Now I know I can use this to help others.

With Gratitude and love (and fear),  for all those who have held space for me in a circle.  To my family who has stuck with me through the ups and downs of my life. And to my growing tribe, we do this work for the future generations to come …

Joseph Devlin

October 2018

If you are considering writing a blog but are held back by your grammar or spelling, Try using google docs their spellchecker is helpful.

“Grammarly”  is an awesome free program that runs in the background & pops up suggested corrections as your composing. I used them both when publishing this, thanks google docs & Grammarly.

If you’re interested to find out more about dyslexia check this out …


Wikipedia dysgraphia link:


6 thoughts on “Learning to love my fear”

  1. Lovely read and emotional knowing you and the fight/struggle you faced. You were always and always will be a huge influence on my practice…. from listening to your anecdotes to watching your skills. Judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree isn’t fair, judging a person by the imprint they leave… and you sir leave a generous footprint everywhere on your journey through life… keep on keeping on JD!!

    1. James ! Thanks for this reply to my blog, Im grateful to hear this feedback that I’ve helped your journey and that you have learnt from my experience I trust that you’re continuing to inspire and heal over there in Scotland !

      Big Smiles from across the Irish Sea 😀

  2. Wow Joseph, so beautiful, clearly and bravely written. I’m so delighted for you and all of us when we realise that actually it’s us who doesn’t believe in ourselves. I think I need to learn that over and over again which I guess just means that again and again I get to experience that sense of freedom that comes from knowing that my happiness is in my hands (also scary). My phrase at the moment (which I’ve stolen from Brené Brown) is Daring Greatly and it seems to me that even my post this blog that you have Dared Greatly. And my bet is you have felt both love and fear since pressing ‘post’. Well done and I hope you’re feeling plenty of self love right now!
    Highest regards

    1. Hi Vannessa, Thanks for this beautiful and supportive comment, I’m just seeing it now.
      Your new favourite saying greatly resonates with me “Daring Greatly” I love It !
      I hope that you are also giving yourself some of that self-love!
      Big Smiles
      Joseph 🙂

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