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The War: Faith vs. Fear

Lissa Rankin's picture

war faith fear

From Lissa: I wrote this post yesterday, before a massive tsunami hit Japan this morning and made me wonder if the story of my internal war was too self-absorbed to post on the day a worldwide natural disaster strikes. I thought about taking it down. But then I realized it's perfect. We are always at war in some way- globally, internally. The secret lies in finding peace in the midst of war, for this is achievable, even when natural disasters, injustices, and war are unavoidable. May we pray for victims of the tsunami, but also for those of us who find ourselves at war with ourselves.

Something in me is trying to come out. I can feel it like this alien in my belly, a twisting and turning devil fetus with sharp claws. My life is not roses and violets right now. It’s dark nights of the soul mixed with moments of deep spiritual connection. It’s glorious triumphs and heart-wrenching disappointments. It’s heartfelt new friendships and tragic relationship losses.

It’s the best of times. It’s the worst of times.

Which is SOO not me. I’m the eternal optimist. I’m Pollyanna. I’m peaches and cream. I can find the good in every situation.

But something about this feels necessary. It feels like a power struggle between opposing forces within me. It feels like WAR.

I don’t think of myself as the warrior type. I resonate more with Kwan Yin than Kali. But the Gremlin deep within me is sick and tired of peace and strawberries. The Gremlin is fed up with needling me with little prickers and has resorted to swords. The Gremlin is trying to slay dreams and tackle my calling, and this calls for action. Because I have not come this far to back down.

The War is not happening in words. It’s happening in my body. It wants to dance its way out more than talk or write about it. It doesn’t want to do yoga right now. It wants to karate chop and grind in hip circles and GET. PISSED. OFF.

I’m not exactly sure why. But I’m going with it for now.

I feel much like the women I have spent a decade assisting when they give birth. The ones without epidurals. The ones who are fighting to bring this baby into the world with every fiber of their being. The ones who scream and cuss and sweat and writhe around, undulating on their knees on the floor because they can’t stand to lie in a bed.

I don’t want to meditate. I want to move. I don’t want to pray. I want to cry.

And at the same time, I feel compelled to laugh out loud at the pure beauty of the aliveness I feel.

The weird thing is that I have a strange peace in the midst of all this. This feels very temporary. Like labor, you know it will only last so long. You can’t really even medicate it away, because in the end, the drugs don’t keep you from noticing that a bowling ball is plopping out of your pussy.

And like labor, The War feels very necessary. You just can’t skip it, so you might as well breathe through the process, having faith that, when it’s all over, you will look back and realize that it was all worth it.

I feel like I must wrangle this beast because something big is about to happen. Some big change is coming soon and I must be ready for it.

Either that, or I’m merely delusional. Which I must admit I sometimes consider.

You might think I sound a bit like Charlie Sheen right now. But really, I’m not. I promise, I’m not failing to medicate some undiagnosed bipolar disorder. This doesn’t feel like mental illness.

It feels like LIFE. It feels GROWTH.

I’ve faced The Gremlin many times while creating the Get Out Of Your Own Way e-course. And I fought The Gremlin again in learning how to authentically market it. In fact, I credit my marketing coaching Angela Lauria with being my midwife to whatever it is I’m birthing, because she has helped guide me through this painful process. And even though it’s been messy (as you can read in the comments here), show me any beautiful birth that didn’t leave blood and poo on the sheets.

So things aren’t easy right now. And I’m walking through the shadow, but perhaps that’s good for me -- and good for all of you to witness. My friend Sheila once told me she had trouble trusting me until she could see my shadow.

I had my doubts about sharing this with you. Especially after Owning Pink’s editor Lauren wrote this in response to reading it:

Honey, what the f-ck are you so upset about??

You are ROCKIN IT. I don't want to define what success is for you -- but as far as I can tell, you are making a living BEING YOURSELF. You are the living, breathing proof behind the pudding of Get Out Of Your Own Way (ok, perhaps still working on it, but you know what I mean). You have zeroed in on a f-cking fantastic and powerful Owning Pink tag-line ("because women are friggin' powerful"). You are writing from the heart in a way that I understand to be both easy and pleasurable for you, and being rewarded for it with increased traffic. You write a letter each week that boatloads of people have opted in to receive. When you are just being you -- doing what you do, writing what you want to write, collaborating with folks who inspire you -- you seem happy. And then honestly, the labels kick in and scare the shit out of you. You can't just be writing blog posts -- you're suddenly Leading A Movement, Alone. Or when people respond to your newsletter with support, you are threatened by The Bigness Of Your Calling.

Now, I don't doubt the bigness of your calling. Nor the caliber of your leadership. But it seems like you only get upset when your brain starts floating to those buzz words. On a daily basis, you love what you do. You stripped off the white coat. You wear pigtails and rock cartwheels. On the whole, you are loved and loving, supported and supportive. Why does it feel so hard?

I had my doubts about posting this, but I’m doing it anyway. I told Lauren I don’t expect her -- or you -- to understand. Sometimes life is hard even when it doesn’t make any sense. I know it might look like everything is going great in my life -- and it is. But it’s still uncomfortable. And I don’t feel the need to explain it much further.

All I can say is this is WAR: a war between my faith and my fear, between my calling to Bigness and my tendency to curl into a ball and shrink, between my certainty and my doubt.

It’s hard. But that doesn’t make it wrong. And I don’t need sympathy or advice. While I appreciate the guidance of those I trust, I also realize that this spiritual grappling is something I alone must do.

And sometimes things really do get darkest just before the dawn.

What about you? Have you ever felt like this? Do you wrangle your demons? Can you make peace with your shadow? Show us your dark side, my friends. Tell us your stories.

Channeling Kali so I can fight The Gremlin,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.



Lissa Rankin's picture

Monica, I love that...

The spiritual slide. Makes so many images come to mind. A children's slide, a slide to the edge of my seat, a slide backwards down the stairs. But it all means MOVEMENT, right? So I'm moving. And I'm OWNING it.

Thank you for getting it!
SO much love

Monica's picture

Owning Your Gremlin

Yes, I went through what I call a "spiritual slide", meaning my learning curve had peaked to the point it threatening to cave back in on itself. For 2 years I felt frustrated, lost, crazy, confused, and absolutely heart broke. There were entire weeks when it felt as if deep sadness was waterfalling out of my chest.

When I realized the depth of what I needed to go through and understood it would take awhile to work itself out, I turned to God and said, "MAKE THIS WORTH IT!! If I'm going to go through this misery, then let me learn as much as I possibly can. Let no stone go unturned."

I wouldn't give up a single second on that spiritual slide. It completely changed my life and the lives of those who helped me through it.

So your having a slide of you own. How empowering to see you own your Gremlin and validate the unpleasant truth. Eventually, the slide will slow and you'll find yourself in a glorious new territory. :)

All my love and support!!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Hi Lisa

See, that's the thing- I am ALL that. I am sweet. And I am fierce. And I can be bitchy. And I'm incredibly loving. And it just happens when you catch me. And in what circumstance (being on stage in front of a roomful of people isn't necessarily the same as when I'm sitting alone with my computer, writing).

But yes, we must embrace ALL those parts to be truly, deeply whole.
Thanks for noticing Lisa!

Lisa Sanchez's picture

There you are...

When I met you in Austin, I was so confused. You were so much...sweeter than I thought you would be. And I don't mean that in the best way possible, UNLESS it's who you really are. Whenever my friends tell me I'm sweet, I tell them they don't know me very well, or they're just projecting ;) Sure, sometimes authenticity is sweet, but what I like and relate to about your brand of authenticity is the FIERCENESS of it all!!

Another thing I love about your blog is your uncanny ability to express yourself. In the end, you often give me the words I need to articulate what I'm feeling. I aspire to this level of openness and eloquence. The uncanny comes in because you are so effing tapped into the whole. No matter what I'm personally going through, I can always relate at least a little, usually a LOT, to your posts.

To me, this war you describe feels like coming into your (my) own. It's not wrangling demons, it's making friends with them, then letting them do what they do best: create real change in this world.

Pollyanna is a perfect archetype for preserving the peace, or the status quo if you will. Make no mistake, she serves me well. But damnit when something's gotta give, she's gotta go. That's when I call in my shadow/demon. It's the side of me that isn't afraid of the dark - isn't afraid of going to war with other demons.

That said, a happy, successful existence makes me the PERFECT person to fight for a cause - my internal resources are intact and full, Pollyanna and Shadow alike.

Michelle Medina's picture

Loving You Lissa!

Thank you for sharing as always Lissa!
I hate it when people say: 'Oh, you've got everything! What are you crying about?' HATE it! Nobody knows what another person goes through, or even why their going through it, unless they've walked in that person's shoes. Then and only then, can they even remotely begin to 'get it!'
I'm standing behind you 110%!!

Lissa Rankin's picture

Thank you all so much for getting it

I so appreciate the support.

Tracy's picture

You Blow My Hair Back!


Thank you for being ALL YOU. Your honest, gritty posts help me so much. I realize that I'm not the only one who has these feelings. I get to see another perspective to help walk through those feelings. Your authenticity gives me the courage to share me, all me, with others.

I wrote a poem recently on what my fear looks like:

The Beast Within
In the dark swamp of my thoughts
there lives a behemoth beast
covered in bristly hairs that would melt tweezers
and I named him

Keep on keeping on Baby Cakes!

Kate's picture

Dark Side

You are definitely hitting on all cylinders, Lissa. That blasted Dark Side jumps out and tries to beat us back to where we were. Maybe this bit of enlightenment that I experienced a couple of weeks ago will help. The inner voice of light spoke up, as it occasionally does, and said "It doesn't always have to be hard."

Amy Miyamoto's picture

I'm right there with ya sister!

It is a bit surreal to read your description of your current transformative experience...mine is so parallel in so many ways...it's a bit freaky really! In fact I recently had a shamanic journey done where the birthing imagery was so strikingly aligned with what you recount here:
"Something in me is trying to come out. I can feel it like this alien in my belly, a twisting and turning devil fetus with sharp claws."
The details and flavor of mine are slightly different, but the essence of this spiritual birthing experience are so familiar and unfortunately not a walk in the park for sure.

In the inner work I have been doing over the last few months I have become firmly resolved in my personal and business missions, it has also become clear that I have been holding on to some layers of energetic sludge that have no place in my present or future. Yet time and space has been needed in order for me to do the necessary "clearing and prepping of the land" in order to provide the seeds of these powerful, vibrant, and fulfilling missions to take root on a firm fertile foundation and grow to abundance. Unfortunately patience has never been my strong suit so spirit is arranging for me to get a little practice in that department as well. ;)

As for the Kali energy - I have also never viewed myself as a warrior yet I recently had my business Soul Languages identified and one of my three languages is the Graceful Warrior. As soon as I saw those two words juxtaposed together I instantly felt the divine fit of this. Because for me the Graceful Warrior represents the harmonic and integrated union of the divine masculine and divine feminine energies working in unison...which is what I am all about. So keep leaning in my dear. I believe you are right on target about this birthing process and as uncomfortable as it is it is both necessary and temporary to produce profound beauty on the other side.
I delight in your courage, vulnerability, and power my friend - that is true beauty!

Amber's picture

Standing with You

I hear you, Lissa. I'm coming face to face with my own shadow self right now and am fighting too. I am at turns ANGRY and desolate. And I have realized that my anger and depression at feeling caged only keeps me in the cage that I have imposed on myself in exchange for "safety".

I don't have any words of wisdom, just wanted you to know I'm standing there with you in the Darkness knowing the certainty of our Light.

Rian's picture

Absolute truth

Lissa, thank you for your blood and bones and sweat honesty. I have these times, boy do I have them! I can't even say what it is that is happening for me during them, but it is dark, it is descent, it is hanging on the hooks in the underworld like the great Inanna did. You bring an eloquence to a feeling that I'll bet alot of us encounter, especially those of us who are trying to hear the calling, and act on it, instead of staying in the daily routine of waking, working in a job we have no passion for, making dinner and sleeping.
A huge thanks for this very raw and honest post!

Lissa Rankin's picture

We are always students

You know Laurie, they say we teach what we need to learn. We are all students- and we are all teachers. Just because we are still growing doesn't mean we can't teach what we've learned along the way.

In fact, I have a strict un-guru policy. I never claim to have it all figured out. I just lead by example- and sometimes that means going through the muck and teaching what I learn in the midst of the process.

If you're curious about how I do that (and how you could too) I'd love to have you be part of the beta-launch of the e-course before we go wide with it!


Thank you for being here with us, sweetie.
Big hugs

Lissa Rankin's picture

Thank you Laurie, and I hear you Dana

Yes Dana, I am ready to take on Kali.
And Laurie, I appreciate the validation. In defense of Lauren, we've been having conversations that go beyond what was in this post, so she was referring not just to this post, but to the whole shebang, and much of it is about me facing my own fears of success, change and the unknown.

In fact that was my homework for today, to finish filming an hour-long coaching session about facing our fears of success, change, and the unknown for the Get Out Of Your Own Way e-course I'm developing. So I just spoke to a camera for an hour straight about this very topic and offered all my best tips for dealing with the fear of the bigness.

Time for me to take my own advice!

Laurie's picture


Lissa, I would love to watch your video and hear how you face these fears. Congratulations on owning and redirecting your gremlins.

Your eCourse sounds FANTASTIC (and like something I could use!). And more congratulations to you for having the courage to use your own material and to teach something you're working through. That's a challenge of mine ... teaching before I have things figured out. Perhaps your example will inspire me!

Glad to be connected with your work and everyone associated with Owning Pink. Have a fabulous weekend!

Laurie's picture

"Sometimes life is hard even when it doesn’t make any sense"

Hi Lissa, I am new to your blog and so grateful to have been referred to this post. Your words and your editor's response touched something visceral in me.

You wrote: "Sometimes life is hard even when it doesn’t make any sense." This has been my experience as well. Amazing reminder that our emotions are not rational. They just are. We have to name them and sit with them to move through them.

Although I imagine your editor meant well by acknowledging all of your incredible accomplishments, she also questioned what you're so upset about and why it feels so hard. Her response reminded me of something Marshall Rosenberg, founder of NVC, calls "life-alienating communication".

When we question people's feelings we are not seeing them or hearing them. Seeing our outside accomplishments is not the same as seeing our insides.

Thank you for taking the risk and posting this anyway.

Your story reminds me that success is as scary as failure. And that external success can coexist with our dark night of the soul ... and that perhaps this is normal. Enough people don't talk about that.

We see movie stars, athletes, and politicians fall into drugs, sex, and addictions at the height of their success ... we see the external manifestations of these "dark nights of the soul" ... but rarely do people talk about what's happening internally while it is happening.

Thanks for your courage. You have inspired me.

Dana Theus's picture

Get used to Kali

Yes. She's in me too and has been making herself known of late. I am working on channeling her energy to give me strength and she's much easier to live with that way. Good luck bringing her to task.


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