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  • Writer's pictureLucy Qian

Honor your soulful longing (1/2) : a beautiful moment to live in

Updated: Apr 23, 2022

“It feels really scary to say these things. My voice is shaking. I’m terrified!”

Have you experienced this before? Perhaps when you first tell others something that you’re really passionate about, when you identify an opportunity to step into your authentic dream, or when you realize what is truly driving you and what is not …

A couple of days ago, I read Tara Mohr’s book “Playing Big.” Her introduction to two different words for fear really got my attention. The first word is “pachad,” the fear of projected or imagined things. It appears in our everyday life, for example, “the plane is about to crash,” “I’m going to strew up the presentation,” “I will not be able to transfer my successes to this new role…” … “Pachad” is the irrational fear stemming from worries about worst case scenarios we imagine.

Yet I want to draw your attention to another word about fear, which is “yirah.” In her book, Tara describes “yirah” as the feeling we experience when we suddenly come to into possession of a considerably larger space and more energy than we had before. It feels like we have come to a place where we can truly connect with our authentic self. It is a totally different energy and space than what “pachad” provides. It is driven by who we are versus what we are afraid to see.

It sounds like “yirah” is a good place to be, but how can it be related to fear? Why does that place feel scary? Let me use my personal story.

I shared with a few friends and colleagues that the click moment for me to decide to leave my Talent Development job and become a full-time coach happened in a coaching session with my own coach. I was sharing my dilemma of wanting to pursue my passion in coaching but felt tremendously insecure about leaving a career I had been in for over a decade.

In the early part of that conversation, I experienced variations of “pachad”: what if I failed my coaching career? What if I was never able to come back to corporate? My coach held a safe space for me to express all my “pachad” while at the same time invited me to recall what I experienced when I was coaching others. She asked really powerful questions to explore what it was about coaching that made me feel connected to myself.

After a few minutes, we uncovered what I really wanted: to work as a life coach and contribute to individuals’ happiness and fulfillment. I had accumulated a decade of experience in leadership development, so it felt natural to focus my practice on coaching leaders. Yet, what I really wanted was to serve a broad range of individuals and treat them as a whole, unique person, regardless of their titles and roles.

To be honest, when I was saying those words my voice was a bit shaky and my heart was beating quickly. At the beginning it felt as scary as I experienced my “pachad.” But as I continued to express myself, my voice gradually slowed down, I placed more pauses, and I felt a burst of emotions mixed with relaxation, calmness, and joy. My coach asked me a question “what is your energy like to be in this space now?” “It feels I’m powerful, there’s no limitation, and I am empowered,” I said without thinking.

This is the exact experience of “yirah.” Tara provides three definitions of “yirah”:

1. The feeling that overcomes us when we inhibit a larger space than we are used to.

2. The feeling we experience when we suddenly come into possession of considerably more energy than we had before.

3. What we feel in the presence of the divine.

I was experiencing all these things in that conversation.

Today, 12 months after that coaching conversation, I re-listened to the recording. When I heard the exact moment of “yirah,” my eyes were still teary and my heart was still beating fast. I am so glad that I made my choice, following “yirah” rather than “pachad.”

So “Yirah” can feel very much like “pachad” in the beginning. It can mislead you to believe that you are not ready for your authentic dream because you feel discomfort even just expressing it.

Give yourself a moment to experience what you are experiencing, just like my coach offered me in that conversation. Ask yourself:

1. What is that energy like in the current space as you express yourself?

2. Do you feel more expansive or more constrained?

3. Are you thinking what you CAN possibly be or what you’re afraid to see?

4. Do you sense more connection with yourself or with a future consequence?

If your answer to those questions are positive, chances are that you have stepped into “yirah,” where you’re sharing your true voice, honoring your soulful longings, and exposing your creative self. It is a beautiful moment to live in.

I’d love to hear what your experiences are with “yirah” and “pachad.” What differences can you find between the two? In my next post, I will share some practices about how to respond to “yirah” and “pachad,” especially when we feel torn between the two, just like I experienced 12 months ago.

If you like this post and would like to receive such lessons and insights drawn from real life stories, you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Your email address will NEVER be rented or sold.

Lucy Qian, Life Coach, PCC (ICF)


About Lucy Qian, International Life Coach

Lucy’s clients say that she has a superpower for helping them see clear direction and next steps, no matter how confused they are in the beginning. Through coaching with Lucy, they become clear about who they are and know what they really want.

Lucy is a certified coach in different settings: Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Certified Laser-focused Life Coach by the Life Coaching Group, and Organizational Coach by the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership.

In her blog, A Journey to Clearness, Lucy shares life experiences and lessons from her practice as an international life coach.

Learn more about Lucy Qian.

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