Have you heard of pachad and yirah? I hadn't either before I read "Playing Big" by Tara Mohr. It is a book that encourages women to play - and dream - bigger, and to trust in our own abilities and voices.
Fear isn't just fear
Fear is often the one thing that keep us from playing bigger, and in the book Tara Mohr talks about two different types of fear: pachad and yirah, and it actually makes great sense to distinguish between the two. She describes pachad as the fear of projected or imagined things, while yirah is quite different. It is the feeling we have when we:
- suddenly come into possession of more energy than usual
- inhabit a larger space than we are used to
- are in the presence of the divine
Lizards and awe
So what does that actually mean? Pachad is the lizard brain, the one that kept you alive all those thousands of years ago. Today, rather than keeping us safe from wild animals, it wants to keep us safe from embarrassment, failure and hurt feelings. And yirah is the life-giving fear or awe you might feel when you plan something big, like a career change or a big move. An exciting fear that, although it might seem scary, moves you towards a higher goal or make you do something you have been wanting to do for a long time. You should lean into the yirah, because it fuels you, and make you do big things.
I feel both pachad and yirah when I share my work online. Either my photography, my drawings or my words. I am feeling a lot of pachad right now, as I am typing this. What if people think what I write is rubbish? What if my English sucks? What if people think I'm stupid for even writing this? For even writing at all? And then at the same time the yirah: "this is so exciting, I love the idea of two different types of fear, and I want other people to know about it too, it would help them know how to deal with fear better, I must share it with them, and help them". Talking about the topic is exciting, and although the pachad keeps asking "who are you to be talking about this, what do you know? You'll embarrass yourself", the wish for sharing useful knowledge makes me push through and share it anyway.
And sharing my work online is only one of the things that makes me scared. I am scared of not being able to come up with anything creative at work - pachad, we are looking at houses and might move, which makes me nervous and excited - yirah, I am scared of driving when it is cold and icy - pachad, and being a good role model for my daughter scares me to death and is the best thing ever - yirah.
Know the difference
Knowing the difference, makes it easier to deal with either version of fear, and for yirah, you need to lean into it, to savour it, and let it move you forward. For handling pachad, Tara Mohr has several suggestions, and my favourites are: "be the love" and "talk to your younger self", what is this version of yourself telling you about the fear you are feeling?
If you think this sounds interesting I encourage you to read Playing Big. And if you are even more intrigued you can take Tara Mohr's online course where you walk through the principles in the book, get help, feedback, and support from a bunch of amazing women. And just for clarity's sake, I am not an affiliate in any way of the book or the course, I have just found them most helpful and want to share the resources.
So, when have you felt pachad and yirah? What are you scared of and what will you do about it?