Fear About My New Life: A Personal Essay

I am full of fear about my new life.  I am planning, with my friend Fred Timm, to start a not-for-profit organization called Conscious Community — a hub, online and also in-person, for people interested in and dedicated to becoming more conscious.  This is the first time I have spoken publicly abdaniel chillin in africa_smallerout this group.  We have been working hard on formulating its principles for some time and it’s almost ready to go.  I don’t want to say much more about it right now, beyond that its ideas are in synch with the values I have been espousing for the last ten or so years.

In framing this essay, I’d like to ask myself some questions about my fear.  Sometimes I find interviewing myself to be quite helpful.  So here goes.

To start, why do you have so much fear?

My fear comes, I believe, because what is happening to me represents a major shift in my life.

But if you’ve been publicly sharing these ideas (like “don’t have kids, it’s a terrible idea”) for ten years, what is different now?

I think the big difference is that I’m talking about it less and living it more.  My life is becoming more integrated.  A big part of what’s so difficult about this is that a lot of people I’m close with, in one way or another, do not share many of my values.  So there’s tension in many of my relationships.

Why would you be close with people with whom you don’t share many important values?

I think a big part of this is that not all the work I’ve done has encompassed the totality of my values.  For example, this holds true for the films I made about recovery from psychosis without medication.  Through that work I have connected deeply with many wonderful and inspiring people, but that doesn’t mean we share the same range of values.  Some values yes, key ones even, but not all.

And now?

Now things are changing.  I haven’t felt the sense of satisfaction that I once did with focusing my energies in areas in which all my values don’t line up.  It’s just not working for me anymore.

But that sounds healthy.  Why would you be scared?

I am scared because it’s not easy to say goodbye.  It’s not easy to make a shift in my life.  It’s not easy to know that I am standing up for things that contradict basic values held by others people who have been such important allies in one part of my life.  But on a deeper level this ties in with my history — my childhood.  I was rejected by my family, my parents, for being myself.  When I became more open and direct about how I felt about them and their actions, especially their past actions toward me, they attacked me, and on a psychic level tried to destroy me.  That shocked me to my core — and also taught me a thing or two about people who have a lot of denial to defend.

Yet it wasn’t entirely unexpected.  Deep down I pretty much always knew who my parents were.  I knew the stakes of the game into which I was raised.  And the stakes were this:  you play our game, you silence the parts of yourself that don’t fit in with our denial, and if you don’t we will reject you.  As would be true for any child, that rejection spelled emotional death for me.  I simply could not tolerate this overwhelming possibility, which is why I became like them for so long.  I had Stockholm syndrome — a great defense against fear and rejection.  That’s how deeply my rebellion was buried.  But as I grew older and more independent, certainly into my 20s and 30s, my true self began thawing out and my breaking away, though terrifying, became inevitable.

But again, how does this connect with what you’re going through now?

Well, I have a history of deep pain associated with growing and changing.  I have learned the hard way that allies don’t necessarily appreciate me standing in the light of values that contradict theirs.  My family certainly didn’t.  So in a sense I remain traumatized by that familial rejection.  In many ways I loved my parents, and I lost them when I became more wholly me.  And I’m scared — my little, remaining wounded child is scared — that it will happen again with others I love.  And I’m scared that it will hurt.

So part of you is still a wounded little child?

Yes.  That little wounded child has grown up a lot, and many sides of him have matured into adulthood, but remnant parts of him remain.  He still exerts some influence over my life.  But I don’t want to put all the focus on him.  Rather, I think it’s just as important to realize the radical nature of what I’m doing — and attempting to do — with my life.  I’m sticking my neck out pretty far by saying some of the things I’m saying and doing some of the things I’m doing.  I think so much of what people do — even what many of my partial allies do — is rotten.  I think people having kids in this modern world is rotten.  It’s bad for the kids, bad for the growing adults, and bad for the world.  I also see people doing so many other things to avoid growing, healing, and being altruistic.  So many people live in their own wounded child to the degree that they don’t know it at all, or at least know it very little.  In a way I relate to them, because I was there.

But their lack of evolution doesn’t leave me with many great allies.  I wish I had a lot more.

Is that why you’re doing this — this ‘Conscious Community’ idea — to find more real allies?

In part, yes, I am doing it to find more allies.  But I’m also doing it for reasons of altruism.  One thing I’ve learned as an adult, especially in the last ten years, is that what I do can really help people.  Tons of people have reached out to me in that time and told me so.  That feels good, and is yet another reminder from life that I’m on the right track.  So I keep doing it — in new and improved ways.  I want to help our world heal.  I want to help others grow.  I want to be more honest about who I am and what I stand for.  And I want to share ideas that I wish I had come across earlier in my life.  And if I can create an organization that really does good on a broader scale, then I’m willing to make some sacrifices.  And one sacrifice is that I’m scared a lot.

Do you think this fear will go away in time?

I think, yes, it will.  I’ve learned that whenever I’ve stuck my neck out, whenever I’ve taken a healthy risk in my life, I feel fear.  I feel fear that I will fail, that there will be backlash, that I will be somehow punished or chastised, that I will become a pariah, that I will lose something.  And often most of these, to a degree, are true.  But failure — real failure — no.  I haven’t yet failed.  That has never come true.  I think that is because real failure, if you just make the effort and don’t hold back, if you really go for it and give it your best shot, is impossible.  I’ve always learned something from trying.  So even if my new project doesn’t come to full fruition and if my hopes and dreams about its success don’t come true, there is gain.  Learning is gain.  Experience is gain.  And that’s just the minimum — because sometimes a project takes on a life of its own, far beyond my expectation.  That happened with my film “Take These Broken Wings.”  In the seven or eight years since I created it, it’s grown beyond anything I imagined.  It’s now been translated into more than 20 languages and it’s free on Youtube, where it gets watched nearly a thousand times a day.  And oddly one of its most popular audiences is Arabic viewers across the Middle East — who watch it with Arabic subtitles.  And to think, eight years ago when I was going to fly out to Colorado to film an interview with Joanne Greenberg, one of the film’s “stars,” I had an urge to back out — to find excuses to cancel.  I was so scared that I didn’t want to get out of bed.  The voices in my head were screaming “failure, failure!”  And they had their reasons.  I barely knew how to operate a camera.  I’d never before interviewed a famous writer.  The project was costing me a lot of my savings.  I had to take off from work.  There were so many things that could go wrong.  I would be out of my comfort zone.  But I did it — and I’m glad I did.  It changed my life.

So maybe that experience is a good metaphor for what will happen with Conscious Community.  I definitely feel what I’m doing now is new.  And I definitely feel the fear.  Yet I move forward anyway.

31 thoughts on “Fear About My New Life: A Personal Essay

  1. Hi Daniel, I found your blog this morning via Youtube. I spent the whole day going through some amazing content and I can absolutely relate to 90% I’ve seen/read so far! I was born to narcissistic parents, who did their parenting job kinda right but were never emotionally available – let alone ready- to have children. Since my teenage years I’ve started the painful but necessary process of breaking away from them. Some books that helped me tremendously in the past few years are “The Fantasy Bond” by Robert Firestone and “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” by Lindsay C. Gibson. I am lucky enough to have good friends who also happen to have messed up parents and we are very supportive of each other. That is really helpful when it comes to releasing the nasty socially-conditioned guilt associated with the decision of breaking away from family.
    I don’t know where you guys are with that community project but it feels like a wonderful idea. I read about a similar kind of community in Robert Firestone’s book but couldn’t find much information about it online. I agree that self-therapy might be the best way to help oneself, and I believe there is a need for a community, especially for people who do not have friends/partners to support them in their decision.
    Last thing I will add here, I have been living in Asia for a couple of years now, I can also see a need for support in countries that place family as the ultimate value (vs how potentially stigmatised an individual can find himself/herself for rejecting their family over here…it is definitely not something acceptable). But parents who are unfit for parenting are everywhere, and I can’t yet figure out if it is just a matter of time before these cultures realize it, or if they already have found a different way to cope with the issue and I am just unaware of it. An international community (online would probably make more sense then?) would be a great place for exchanging ideas.

  2. Hi Daniel,
    I came across your videos and your blog years ago. At that time it gave me hope. Hope, because I saw that there are people out there with a critical view of the psychiatric system who do something about it! Now, years later, I am standing at crossroads in my life. What I plan to do will also mean a major shift in my life. And it scares me a lot. Well, at exactly that point I came across your book “breaking from your parents”. Although I do not intend to break with my parents, I will need courage to live my life according to my principles and give more power to that inner voice of mine. And now I am reading about your plans to start a “Conscious Community”. I love that plan and I wish you the best of success with your project! I need to say thank you for your courage and your great work. Your films and your words have given me hope, and now they help me not to lose track and give me courage to take the plunge.

    • thank you melanie. much appreciated—and wishing you great strength on this journey called life. i think great strength is required to grow, more and more every day…….. daniel

    • thank you melanie. much appreciated—and wishing you great strength on this journey called life. i think great strength is required to grow, more and more every day…….. daniel

  3. Hi Daniel,
    Really resonate with what you and Anna shared about being courageous to fight the loneliness and fear and press forward in seeking truth and allies in truth. Looking forward to this community and the opportunity to connect with other people on the journey through the valley (is that what you called it–maybe in another article).

    It is a matter of faith to believe that truth, love, reality and honesty triumph over fear, shame and comfort. But reaping the rewards of that faith, as you explained, can be ever so sweet–seeing a ripple effect of healing and awareness. The giving of ones life force for the greater good and seeing that good grow and multiply.

    As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

    Looking forward to seeing your new project launch and participating.

    -Rachel in Seattle
    (same gal that commented your videos recently)

    • thanks Rachel 🙂 and good to see you here. i plan to be starting (in some way) this new community soon…… getting closer. and yes, scaaaary!!! thanks for the john wayne quotation———-daniel

      • And, it really is challenging to start something new.

        Would love an update on how it’s all going, whenever (no pressure).

        Today I came face to face with some of my biggest creative blockages (anger at my parents) and just pleaded with God to take the blocks away so that, for the first time in 30 years, I can start vocalizing the millions of creative ideas and dreams I keep on the island I live on in my mind. May sound weird, but that’s the best way I put it! I finally realized that I’m tired of continuing my parents’ abuse/neglect and punishing myself in order to not have to deal with the crushing reality that neither of my parents loved me.

        I think God heard me.

        Its hard to start though. To fight back the persistent lies screaming at me to continue believing them, to stay moored in fear.

        I’m ready though. To give the pain of courage a try again.

        I’ve been listening to a few lovely bands, which are helping me to build up that courage. My favorite at the moment is Typhoon. If you get the chance, check out their song, https://youtu.be/cQu7udjsins

        Hope you don’t mind me sharing music! Have a great week!

  4. Dear Daniel,
    I feel exactly the same things that you describe, and have been for the last couple of years since I started dealing with my childhood. Connecting with others is so difficult in the world were living in. To a large degree you have difficulties because you KNOW what real connection is like, and you’re starved of it surrounded by people who probably have never experienced it and who think you’re strange (that’s if you’re lucky). Add to that all the really damaged ppl who become enraged and get in the way of any real conversation. Taking this path is so difficult, but every time I think of giving up, I think, what’s the alternative? To not really live at all? To live in a daze, drugged on approval? Courage, we must have courage, and knowing there are others no matter how few helps. I wish you well with the community, take courage. What we’re taking about is either the choice to retain choice, or to kill our own selves and our ability to make choices.

    • greetings anna — good to hear what you write. it makes sense!! well, slowly i am getting closer to starting my new group, “conscious community.” pretty close, in fact. maybe in a month or so i’ll get it going, with my friend fred. maybe it will appeal to you? check back soon! greetings from nyc, daniel

    • Wow…I’m glad I stumbled on this blog!…Yes…it’s truly frightening to be honest and real….I’ve experienced many slaps in my face (metaphorically) whenever I try to be honest and speak my own truth…Practically, no-one affirms what I say…instead I get labelled as a weirdo…even a heretic….

      Anna says to have courage…yes it takes hell of a lot of courage to deviate from the norm…I’m not a brave person… I must admit that many times, just to get accepted by my community, I kept silent.. I did not dare speak my true thoughts and feelings…otherwise I risk total ostracism and even attacks from people around me

      So I’m really looking forward to Daniel’s new Conscious Community and looking to read more comments in this blog…It makes me feel less isolated.

      So thanks to Daniel, Anna, Rachel and all the other earlier comments.

  5. Daniel,
    I’ve some quetions for you:

    – Do you think it’s possible to learn to live with some uncertainties in live?
    – Is it impossible to coöperate/ live with people with different values than yours?
    – Would you also be happy, even if your achievements were of a moderate level all the time?
    – Do you know what ‘love’ is?
    – Can it be that you’re scared of financial and career uncertainty?

    To me it seems that your trauma’s constantly motivate you to change yourself as a person (becoming a ‘better you’) and create a better world (transforming anger in positive projects for the world).

    Could it be that a stronger focus on a nice live for yourself would make you feel happier?

    p.s. I agree with you in 85% of the cases in your video’s! Nice work 😉

    Grtz Simon

  6. Daniel, this is is inspiring. I have the same instinct, if that word resonates with you, that people need to stop having kids because we need to slow down the growth and work on ourselves and society. I am very interested in your Conscious Community. And like you I have wanted to make the change and live what I preach, but am scared to leave the comfort of what I have now for fears that i know some of and other fears that I don’t know that might happen.

  7. Daniel, you speak the truth as many do, but not enough people. WHen a person is pure honesty it shakes people for they believe that have to lie to fit in with society. Keep speaking your truth, and maybe a kckstarter campaign would help you start this awesome website of which you speak.

  8. Great idea. I think that you two would make someting great together. I can understand your doubts, but who knows better than you, that your inner voice is right and speak the truth and you can believe in it.
    I wish you courage and luck materializing it.
    Greetings from ACoA.

  9. Hi! I found you today. Just stumbled upon your video on youtube having searched for critiques of current psychotherapy education. I watched the two hour-long videos and a recent interview on your website, non-stop.

    I am overwhelmed… If we aren’t soulmates 😉 we must have so much in common! It’s the first time in my life that I feel and understand a person so well. Listening to you was as if my own hard-thought thoughts were speaking to me. My instinctive or intuitive understanding of these matters has seemed logical and natural to me but it has faced either a vehement opposition from my colleagues, teachers, supervisors or a passive semi-conscious sabotage in common people I’ve met in my life. My clients being the only ones to appreciate my genuine wish to connect with them and ‘hold the lamp’ for them to lighten their path until they realize that they have the strength to hold it themselves, have always had. My supervisors also taught me to keep my boundaries which to me more resembled building a fortress to protect myself from the people i am supposed to help, they taught me wisely drawing on their experience to abandon hope to help ‘psychiatric patients’ in any significant way as i cannot compete with drugs.

    I’ve been in therapy all my life, in self-therapy ;-). Observing, reading, thinking, analysing, checking with my guts if my head is right. I could never understand why people generally agree about the value of openness and true intimacy in a relationship but do everything not to live it. Why fake confidence is preferred to sincere doubt? Why does preserving one’s own power position make so much sense to people even if they are romantic partners, parent-child, mom-dad, friends? Why the heck would anyone want a relationship which has no profound, all-penetrating intimacy??? Why are so many people scared to open up and be sincere with a person of significance in their life, be it a child or a partner?

    As you do, I ask many questions looking desperately for answers that would resonate with my inherent worldview and the system of values. I respect and employ scientific thinking but resent the God of statistics, I admire ancient wisdom of Eastern philosophies but get frustrated by the simplified dogmatism of New Agers. I’ve developed radars for fanatism in any disguise, the quality for which I am grateful to one of my earliest teachers, Erasm of Rotterdam.

    Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I am 38, originally from Moscow, hold a psychology MSc, mental health (UK), trained in hypnotherapy (USA), residing in Austria and struggling with requirements for psychotherapy trainging here which just leave no choice. I’d rather contacted you per email as there’re so many matters to share but this seems to be the only way available at the moment. Please do email me if i made any sense to you 😉

  10. I can only congratulate you on deciding to try and create a community/retreat for people seeking truth/enlightenment/consciousness. I remember suggesting this to you years ago and how it wasnt on the top op your list at the time, so even though I myself have given up on my journey, the pain and loneliness just became unbearable, I wish you and and your fellow allies, present and future, all the best.

    • Hi there,
      Just wanted to comment and say that I also had given up on my journey, and had given up on finding true allies. I felt insane most of the time, and just let me heart and mind grow numb and dull. But I just recently, even after a lot of immensely painful losses and experiences, decided to keep trying. For me, it started with my diet, because I couldn’t think straight because my body and endocrine system was so unbalanced. But I really had thought my life was over, I felt like I’d spent everything I’d had on life and come up dry. But somehow, there was still life my dry bones.

      I don’t know your story, but just wanted to share that on a general level, you’re not alone. And I believe there’s hope, for each and every one of us. I hope you find allies and a wellspring of motivation to keep going and growing.

      Every ending is a new beginning of sorts.


    • Also, I’m sorry if any of that was unhelpful to you. And thank you for your honesty and for sharing; it made me feel less alone and like other people out there understand.

      Take Care,

  11. Hi Daniel, keep up the good work. Your books and videos have been of tremendous support to me and surely many others too. There is sadly very little out there that touches on these topics with as much honesty and sincerity as you have done. If your next venture is in that same spirit then you are on the right path. You have my support. Cheers bas

  12. OMG! I LOVE THIS IDEA….a place where people can go get consciousness…..perfect.
    Because people in most need of it, probably won’t have a clue about how to enlighten themselves at first….I love it Daniel…really…a consciousness launching point. It’s resonating with me because I’ve trying for a couple of months to formulate a letter to my estranged family (very old mother) because after 3 years of no contact….there always seems to be a nagging part of me that feels invisible and unvalidated. Every time I attempt a revision on the letter, I remember back to when I was where they are….I don’t thing they will understand where I’m coming from. One of my revisions ended by telling them I don’t want any phony apologies, but my best case scenario would be to see all of them (middle aged and older) on a path of facing the truth and growing to ever higher levels of consciousness.

  13. That’s great Daniel, I miss something like this since Alice Miller’s internet forums, it will get all the people together and reduce this painful loneliness of living ina society were people are emotionally distant and limp.

  14. I’m so happy to hear about your amazing new project and wish you the best of luck. I’d love to visit it some day. I’ve been a long year follower of your work and think you’re one of the most brilliant persons alive today.
    I know exactly what you mean by values not shared by others and how you find yourself in a position of fear to speak out about certain values in your environment, especially to those close to yourself. I’m struggling with these feelings myself as well currently and it really is quite a dilemma and I don’t know how to get out of it yet because the fear of loss is very much real and strong in me and I’m struggling to overcome it. Btw. have you heard of Tamera? They have build up a similar healing project down in portugal (the whole thing originated in germany back in 1978) and even though I don’t fully agree with some of their focal points (they don’t go deep enough like you do and some topics are misplaced in terms of their importance) it might still be a good starting point to get some inspiration for your own project. Here is a blog written by many of their members which shows their degree of conciousness on these topics (I’m not affiliated with them in any way except having discovered this essay/blog on facebook this morning and having seen some interviews by some of their people recently which was quite interesting to read and watch): http://terranovavoice.tamera.org/2015/05/dissolving-fascism-2/3420 ; http://www.tamera.org/index.html

  15. Hi Daniel,
    This sounds like a fabulous project. I am in admiration of your bravery in making and sharing your fears. I am there’s an online component for those of is scattered around the globe.

    • Sorry about the typos! It should read I *hope* there’s an online component for those of *us* scattered around the globe.
      PS Really enjoyed reading your values. Most really resonated.

      • Oh dear and that should say *naming* and sharing your fears. I am going to stop typing these replies on my phone!

  16. In an amazing way it feels to me as if you are creating your conscious family- much as I was taught to do in recovery, though I did not break from my family, I certainly have found my spiritual parents and my spiritual children. Our roles are fluid as needed with the hope being, we relate to each other with a deeply personal tribal-like connection. A Tribe implies loyalty and from my research, those tribes that achieved endurance and healthy outcomes (where each individual is valued uniquely yet when appropriate interdependently) are still to be found.

  17. Wow, Daniel, this could have been an interview with my inner reticence to step out of my box and do something different. I’m experiencing something similar, losing people from my life as I change my beliefs and start living closer to my values. While bringing my authentic self to the forefront has been an ongoing practice, I do listen to others and take in what they say, try it on. Sometimes I’m changed by it. I’m very interested in following this blog and seeing what others say about the risks and the losses associated with taking on new ventures. The question for someone who was raised with a follow the rules mindset and the shaming, rejecting, disapproving family and culture related to that is the toughest of all, “Underneath my appropriate social veneer, am I basically not loveable?” For me, that’s the fear.

  18. Hi Dan.

    Thanks for being so honest one more time.
    Hope u will have a good time in that project.
    I live in a community project and despite there are some difficult times, it deserves to do it.

    I have had similar thoughts living my life with people who don’t share my values, and it is definitly worth trying to live your life with people of your vibe.

    So nice one, mate. I just wish you won’t stop writting. It is a great pleasure to read you once in a while.

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