Liberté Free to Be in conversation with mental health expert, Miranda Arieh.
One of the key subjects that came out of our conversation was the theme of how to face our fears and do it anyway. How can we let go of past thought patterns that so often hold us back in midlife?
I first met Miranda Arieh as we both stood nervously outside BBC Radio Leeds before we entered another round of the “New Voices” presenter competition. I managed to make it to the final 5 but they were only taking 2 presenters and it wasn’t meant to be. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the world of radio and presenting and whilst some may have seen it as a failure, I saw it as a great opportunity and I'm now on my 134th podcast interview so I think it turned out ok. Miranda is now regularly heard on Radio Leeds sharing her work around mental health and I have loved following her ever since.
Miranda Arieh is an award-winning mental health activist, public speaker and spiritual coach from Leeds, UK.
Following a lengthy stay in an adolescent psychiatric unit at 14 years old, Miranda learned first-hand how cold the world of mental health treatment can be and set out to learn a better way to alleviate her suffering. She went on course after course, devoured books by spiritual teachers, and decided to dedicate her life to transforming her attitudes, trigger reactions and life-long patterns. Sure enough, she started to recognize that all the triggers she felt were an opportunity for spiritual growth and began to enjoy the process of learning of getting to know herself, befriend herself, hold herself.
After over a decade of finding her feet and securing roles at some of the country's leading mental health charities, including Mind, Community Links and Time to Change, Miranda started to be invited to share her story up and down the country at mental health conferences, awareness-raising events, and on radio and television.
The foundation of all the work that Miranda does has self-compassion at the core as a ‘bridge’ to practising presence and being able to live in the present moment.
Practising presence is the essence of inner peace.
One of the key subjects that came out of our conversation was the theme of how to face our fears and let go of past thought patterns that so often hold us back in midlife.
How Miranda faces her own fears
“I'm living within a theme in my life at the moment of feeling the fear and doing it anyway, and I'm living within this theme in my life of acknowledging that courage is not the absence of fear. So, I could feel scared every day, but I do it anyway. It's this acknowledgement of acting, taking the steps towards what I want to do and what I want my life to look like and how I want to be and show up in this world.
Regardless of how scared I feel. For so long in my life, I lived with this so called protector in me, holding me back from doing what I really want. It created the illusion that I was safe in my comfort zone, that the comfort zone is very overrated.
We need to step out of that if we really want to expand in this world.
And it's not until I've hit my 40s and now, I seek out opportunities, even though it scares the hell out of me sometimes, but the rewards if you've done it are definitely worth. Facing my fears and doing it anyway.
Here are some of Miranda’s tips on learning how to face our fears and do it anyway, with self-compassion.
In the complicated tapestry of life, there’s a recurring theme that we all encounter: the dance between fear and action. In this midlife transformative phase, marked by wisdom and experience, we find ourselves at a crossroads — the crossroads of feeling the fear and doing it anyway.(If you haven’t read the back by Susan Jeffers, I definitely recommend it)
Miranda reminds us that courage, as we often hear, is not the absence of fear; it’s the audacity to proceed in the face of it. Miranda eloquently unravels the essence of this mantra. With her insights, we explored how midlife becomes a canvas for untamed aspirations and boundless potential, fuelled by facing our fears head-on and embracing new opportunities.
Acknowledge the Fear, Take the Leap
As we embrace our 40s and beyond, a realization dawns upon us — the comfort zone acts as a cocoon, and the real magic unfolds beyond its cosy confines. The tapestry of life becomes richer when we dare to unravel the threads of fear that once held us captive. Miranda reminds us that every aspiration, every dream, every longing resides on the other side of fear.
The Courageous Act of Letting Go
Midlife unfurls not just as a quest for new knowledge, but as an awakening of self-discovery through letting go. It’s a time to peel back layers, an endeavour to become the best version of ourselves. Miranda encourages us to shed the remnants of past conditioning, to embrace the unravelling, to rediscover the essence that resides within.
“I love the word unravelling because it is almost about peeling back the layers of everything we're not. To be our best version of ourselves, you know, we hear this terminology, ‘be the best version of you’, we don't have to become anything new, we don’t have to acquire anything new, we have to let go of everything that we're not.”
Many women in midlife years will suddenly start going, Okay, I'm full enough. I'm full. What do I want to let go off? What do I want to release? How do I want to unravel? It's this delayering, the peeling and shedding layers of conditioning and these protection mechanisms built to protect us. Like I said at the beginning, they don't really protect us at all. Part of that is embracing and stepping out of the comfort zone.’’
As we evolve, so do our relationships. Midlife beckons us to grow together or to part ways with those whose frequencies no longer resonate with our journey. Miranda highlights that reactions from others often mirror their own inner struggles.
“One of the common things that people say in my coaching is “I suddenly don't want to hang around my friends anymore, I suddenly don't want to be around the same people anymore as I used to’’, because they're shifting so much that they might not be aligned anymore.
I guess when it comes to other people's reactions, some people can have odd reactions, because they might feel bad about themselves. One of the first things is to recognise that it's not personal, that if somebody's having a bad reaction to you, they might be fearing that they're going to lose you because they see you growing and expanding. We don't have to take it personally to recognise that the other person might be in suffering on some level themselves.”
Boundaries are very important, and it is something that's kind of bashed about a lot on social media, like a buzz phrase, isn't it? I would always say that to put ourselves first or to hold self-compassionate practice is not selfish at all. Because the kinder that we are to ourselves, the more nourishing we are in that relationship to ourselves.”
The Power of Self-Compassion
Miranda extends a gentle invitation to embark on a journey of self-compassion. It starts with acknowledging the conversation we hold within, the self-talk that either uplifts or diminishes us. “All we need to do with this practice is become very, very aware of what we're saying to ourselves in our heads, we all have a voice in our heads that can either be tearing down, or building us up"
Through this awareness, we can start to transform, letting the light shine through the crevices of self-doubt. Self-compassion is far from selfish, it's a tool to empower ourselves.
‘’There's nothing selfish about self-compassionate practice, there's nothing selfish about putting yourself first.’’
Rediscovering the Self
‘’Amidst the hustle and bustle of life, we often forget to ask ourselves simple yet profound questions: What do I truly like? Which clothes do I like to wear? Who do I want to be? Where do I want to go with my life?”
I know that’s what I found when I went through divorce at 40, I had to spend time reconnecting with myself and really thinking about some of those seemingly basic questions.
Midlife invites us to reconnect with our passions, to find solace in our own company, and to venture into the realm of possibilities. Through the magic of rediscovery, we embrace the limitless potential that beckons us, echoing Persian poet Rumi’s poignant reminder that ‘what we seek is also seeking us.’
Embracing Fear as a Gateway to Triumph
Miranda’s own life experiences resonate deeply with those moments when we stand on the precipice of our dreams, hearts racing, palms sweaty, yet resolute in our determination to forge ahead. She shares her experience of diving into her long-cherished dream of hosting a radio show on Radio Leeds, which came to fruition during Mental Health awareness week this year. ‘Sometimes it's when we're getting our biggest dreams, we expect them to feel good in the body. Right? Great, which it does now, of course, but it felt so frightening. Even though of course, I was excited, I was elated, but I also felt so terrified. But I did it anyway. ‘
Amidst the swirl of nerves and exhilaration, she surrenders to the fear, recognising that fear need not be banished, but rather, embraced as a companion on the journey. The result? Triumph, elation, and a powerful revelation that we are indeed capable of achieving our dreams, even in the face of fear. I still remember that feeling when I took my first tandem skydive and faced my fear of heights. I was terrified as we sat on the edge of the plane ready to jump, but that feeling of pure elation and pride afterwards was so worth it, if only we could bottle it.
‘I’ve spoken to so many women who were afraid to take certain steps, because they're terrified of the beating they're going to give themselves if they fail.’
You tried, you did your best and that will always be good enough
‘If we know that if we fall over, we've got a self within us that's going to go "you tried, you did your best". If we can rely on that relationship within ourselves. When we can trust ourselves enough to know that we've got our own backs, we are a lot more able to try new things.’
In the mosaic of midlife, we find ourselves stepping into a realm where fear is no longer an obstacle but can become a guide. Miranda reminds us that the power to feel the fear and do it anyway resides within us all. As we navigate the uncharted waters of this transformative phase, let us remember that every step taken in the presence of fear is a step closer to the extraordinary life that awaits on the other side.
So, embrace the fear.
Say yes to new opportunities.
Let your midlife journey be a testament to the indomitable spirit within.
Feel the fear and do it anyway!
Listen to the full podcast episode:
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and faced your fears?
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Keep being fabulous