Steel Bars: How We Cage Ourselves Off From the Freedom to Begin

IMG_6765 Mike Pratt Architecture

Photo by Mike Pratt

There is something unimaginably powerful you hold deep inside, something secret. Something only you know about and, to be honest, even you are not exactly sure where it comes from or how in the world you would ever pull it off.

To acknowledge the existence of this wild thing, this dream, this ambition, even only to yourself, would be impressive let alone to share it with anyone else.

You love this mysterious thing though, just as we all love our little secret passionate things. We love them in the dark, we dream about them in the night, we meet up with them in the shadows of space between the regular stuff we do each day.

We love this formless thing because we believe in it – inexplicably – against all the odds, in spite of all the craziness we imagine people might talk about us if we showed them.

We have a thing for these things, these creative endeavors we have yet to begin. They are part of what makes us up and even if we never let them out into the world they are always in us; morphing our cells, warping our thoughts, tugging on our veins, shaping the very way we see ourselves and the world around us.

So incredibly powerful are these dreams and hopes we hold for our precious lives. How deeply we want to step up to them, dig them out, hold them to the light and look at them in all their bridled, potential glory.

What if . . . I did this?

What if . . . I tried?

What if . . . it was even better than I imagine?

What if . . . it wasn’t?

What if . . . I never find out?

There is such a thing inside of me now, a dimly lit stirring thing that seems to be emerging not because it wasn’t always there but because it appears to be time for it to come forward. I’m pretty sure this is what happens when you are ‘ready’ spiritually but not ‘ready’ to believe it fully with the rest of your fleshy human bits.

It’s scary, yes. It’s divine and it lights me up to think about sort of like standing on the edge of a massive cliff (I would imagine. I’d be hard pressed to actually stand on the edge of a cliff) prepping to jump off into the sky.

The funny thing is, I have known this feeling before so I’m at least tuned in to it. I’ve got it’s number, so to speak (if people still say this anymore?). I recognize that fear of beginning a passion filled project is just my ego trying to keep me away from what I most need to grow in love.

And even though I recognize what is going on intellectually, in my heart every time a new thing introduces itself to me through inspiration, I wonder, secretly, is this the thing that’s going to finally break me? The thing that’s just too big, just too hard, just . . . too . . .

We do this to ourselves, right. We conjure up all of these magnificent steel bars inside our minds to cage ourselves off from the freedom to begin.

Steel Bar: I can’t do this, I’m not perfect yet.

Steel Bar: I will never do this right why bother.

Steel Bar: I can’t. No, I just can’t. It’s too big, audacious, impossible, selfish, silly, weird, ambitious, risky.

Steel Bar: What will happen to me if I screw this up? Will I be rejected? Will I ever recover?

The fear bars, the perfect little prison beams we erect to wall us off from the grand potential that is our lives. Do you do this, too?

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photo by Allison Conway

Here’s the thing though, the thing that can slice through all the fear madness: What you love is what will set you free. You do not have to be perfect to begin it, in fact, better that you are weathered, cracked and worn in. You do not have to have all the answers to put yourself out there.

A baby learns to walk not because she knows all the places her wobbly legs will take her; she learns to walk because she knows – somehow – it’s time.

If you wait until everything makes sense, until everything can be logically sized up and buttoned down, you will never grow into who you were meant to be. Growth is a mess, growth is dirty and crooked and rough. That’s how the elegance becomes apparent when we least expect it.

Beginning something that matters deeply to our souls sends the primitive fear-spiked ‘monkey mind’ shrieking up the walls and tearing at the ceiling. He loves this dramatic, wide-eyed, white-knuckled shit.

You, in all your beloved grace, can react to the inner fright fest in one of two ways:

Option one: Surrender to the monkey screaming and keep your beloved thing un-begun. At least the screaming will quiet and you’ll be able to nestle back into the comfortable gnaw. It’s numbing but it’s an option that feels safe. (Feels safe, not is safe. But that’s another blog post ;))

Option two: Surrender the monkey screaming to the higher, deeper spirit of love and compassion within. Surrender the loud fears to the silent stillness. Let go of your ego even as he tries to wrestle with you and trust in the divine energy that planted this yearning in you to begin with.

You see, guys, the thing is, maybe we get twisted up about beginning what we love because we think it’s all about us (ego again, damn). We get so wrapped around what will happen to us as the isolated individual that we completely cut ourselves off from the higher truth which is this:

The work you do in love isn’t about you. It’s about us. It’s about the community. It’s about the people who need to hear what you have to say, see what you have to show. The people who are hungry – more likely starved – for the authentic offering you alone have the incredible potential to provide for them.

What if I told you that the thing you most want to give fits perfectly into what someone else most needs to receive?  It’s true.  We are all interconnected, dovetailing our beautiful imperfect offerings into each other.

So the next time you are in the shadows with the joyful, mysterious, loving thing you want so badly to begin you can at least know two things for sure:

1. It didn’t come from you. This calling, this message comes from beyond you. You are the vessel and it is trying to come through you.

2. It’s not about you alone and therefore you are not in it alone. It’s about your unity with the entire universe. It’s a call to give as well as receive and one feeds off the other. It is in giving that we receive.

Even as you make secret love to your dream and wonder what to do about the fear, this very minute, you have the freedom to begin.

The only question left then is, what will you do with it?


~ ~ ~

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© 2014 Allison Marie Conway at Glory Begin

32 thoughts on “Steel Bars: How We Cage Ourselves Off From the Freedom to Begin

  1. Alejandro

    Dear Allison, I have not written any comments for a while and right now I am at the gym working out and checking my email I saw your new post on caging ourselves and I had to stop to read the whole thing because I could not take my eyes off my phone and a powerful force kept me glued to the next word. Allison I love to read your posts because they are truly a vivid expression of your inner soul and when we are not afraid to share our deepest inner feelings we are connecting powerfully with others. This is definitely a magical day!!!!

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dear, dear Alejandro,

      You can only imagine how very, very much your words mean to me. Your comment has made everything I wrote worth what it took to get it out. :) :)

      I am tucking your words here close, and please know how dear your spirit of light is to me, my friend.

      Have a brilliant work out and a joyous, joyous Sunday. I LOVE the magic!!

      Peace, always, always,


  2. Mihran

    Dear Alison – This was very difficult to comment – You wrote a difficult topic. But I wanted to share this saying!

    A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
    and floats downstream till the current ends
    and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

    But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
    can seldom see through his bars of rage
    his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Hello my dear Mihran,

      I am so grateful to you for your beautiful comment! I’m so glad you shared this quote, it is so moving and lovely.

      “he opens his throat to sing” – this is so very, very precious. I’m holding this thought close to my heart.

      Blessings and light to you, dear one. Thank you for reading and for your gorgeous spirit! :)

      Peace and love, always,


        1. Allison Marie Post author

          Thank you! Mihran, have you subscribed to the email updates for this blog?

          I will be sending out something very special soon only for email subscribers, I think you will enjoy it. If you like you can enter your email up there at the top of the page.

          Peace to you!

          1. Mihran

            Dear Alison – Thank you from the bottom of my heart – I adore you – I signed as you requested and I look forward to hearing from you;)

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dear Erika,

      I am so happy and honored to see you! Thank you so much for reading and for your precious words, I really appreciate it.

      You have a beautiful heart and a light filled spirit, I am so glad this resonated for you, friend. :)

      Love and peace to you,


  3. Anonymous

    Hey neighbor!
    Thanks as usual for the reminder. It is NOT about me. Letting go and letting things flow works so well, you would think that I would want to just get out of the way….but I don’t.

    But we’ll keep trying!

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Hey Mark,

      So lovely of you to come around and stop by, thank you! :)

      It’s funny isn’t it, how we need to remind ourselves. But I guess that it is a daily commitment, right. I guess that’s the human condition as we try to evolve and tune in to our higher capacity for love.

      Knowing we are each out there trying though, that’s the good stuff man. :) :)

      Peace, always, and have an awesome day,


  4. rajagopal

    yet another refreshing insight on the grand dilemma we all go through in our lives , conveyed powerfully by symbolism of criss-crossing steel bars restraining a clear view of sun lit sky , with visual of cracking rocky surface adding up . idea duly formed in mind’s incubator must be blooded into real world of success and failure, instead of allowing ego-controlled monkey urges of fear and doubt to prevail . fear and doubt conjoin to delay the creative effort , if not quell it . in the world of commerce , it manifests as the compulsion to micro-manage versus taking risks . too much micro-managing or looking into the minutiae of pros and cons, costs and benefits only serve to kill enterprise from achieving any worthwhile goals , attainable only through calculated risks or trial and error in the legendary manner of edison working his ten thousand trial path to the light bulb . that said , there is also the school of thought proposing detailed analysis and data crunching to foresee all negatives and contingencies to ensure zero-error , perfect launch into a field where nothing exists to adversely affect the prospect , like nothing or no one being able to stop an idea whose time has come , which , though the desirable option , is a rarity . keep shining allison….best wishes…raj .

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Good day to you, dear Raj,

      Thank you for this beautiful comment! I am always interested to hear your thoughts and I like how you took this in a new direction with your insights on commerce and enterprise.

      It’s fascinating how very much fear can permeate so many areas of our lives – any endeavor where we attempt to better ourselves, to make some progress toward our best – there comes the little fear monkey, right.

      “perfect launch into a field where nothing exists to adversely affect the prospect” – as I read this I thought, ug, where’s the adventure and mystery in that?? Making sure everything is perfect first and then launching isn’t quite the way it works is it? I think it’s so interesting. We fear trying because we are unsure, but there is a secret part of us that just so loves the mystery.

      Keeps us coming back for more, yes? :)

      As always, thank you so much for your light and spirit, friend. I am so grateful for it!

      Wishing you so much peace and joy today,


  5. Cathy

    I will admit that I scan the blogs I follow to get to yours. You are my first blog crush. I am nurtured by what flows out of you Allison. Thank you for sharing your journey and inspiring others to do that as well. This is a great post and I hope everyone who reads it, gains the confidence to share their gifts. Rock on sister!!!

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dearest Cathy,

      At the risk of sounding dramatic, I literally got tears in my eyes reading your words!! I just cannot thank you enough for your comment and the heartfelt thought behind it. I am tucking your words into my heart, they mean a great deal more than I could ever say.

      I promise you, I am humbled because if something resonated for you, we can both be sure it came from beyond what I could do on my own. ;) Freaking LOVE the universal spirit, right! :)

      We have the same hope – to nurture others, THAT’S the best. I am sending you so, so much love and light and peace . . . and virtual hugs of gratitude.

      Rock ON, baby!! XO

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Thank you, thank you, my good friend. Don’t we have a secret thing for our secret things?? ;) It was actually fun trying to put this into words. . . bit of a challenge, in a good way. :)

      Thank you so much for your comment – love it.

  6. Carl D'Agostino

    Some things I did not try because I knew my limitations. Somethings I knew I’d win, I lost. Some things I knew I’d lose I won. Somethings I knew I’d win and I did. Somethings I did not care if I won or lost. I wanted the experience. That made me a winner. The jury’s still out on others.

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Thank you, Carl – your comment is so great. As I read it a few times I thought yes, this is life isn’t it? We go at the things we believe in and are ever surprised by what happens next. So, so much we just don’t know.

      “The jury’s still out on others.” I just love this! :)

      Wishing you a wonderful day,


  7. Anoop

    Hey Ally,

    Very well put as usual. They say that ‘ I am the greatest enemy of myself’ and it’s very true.

    Cheers! Have a great day.

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Hey beloved,

      Thank you so very much. :) I am glad you enjoyed this.

      Isn’t it the very truth, we are our own worst enemy. More afraid of our light than our darkness.

      Here’s to reaching for the sky. Cheers to you, thank you so much, and I wish you peace and joy the whole day through.

      Ally :)

  8. Jackie

    Beautiful, Allison.
    I wish you all the courage and freedom to begin that you feel you require. Not that you need it, really. You are there. Ready. I can feel it in your posts.
    Waiting with baited breath for what happens next.

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Thank you so, so much Jackie. I adore your writing so when you compliment mine it literally sends me into orbit. :)

      I love that you say this: “You are there.” Damn, if that isn’t the best thing I’ve heard all day I don’t know what is. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for your words and your gorgeous spirit behind them.

      Wishing you a beautiful Sunday, good friend.

      Big Huge Love! XO

  9. Robert

    Hi Allison, I’ve been absent from the blogging world recently but hopefully I’m back again as a regular, a couple of challenges in life of recent times :)
    An inspiring post! The limitations of the ego mind, the monkey, expressed as iron bars, lovely! We must learn, or train ourselves, our true selves, to recognise when the frightened little ego is constraining us and ‘Surrender the monkey screaming to the higher, deeper spirit of love and compassion within’, beautifully put.
    We are limitless beings but the ego/monkey mind wants security and recognition while maintaining the status quo. There are many different ways to overcome the ego, but overcome it we must, as individuals and a race in order to reach our full potential.

    Hope you are having a lovely weekend :)

    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Robert, hello, hello my good friend!

      I was giving you one more week and then I was coming in search of you! Haha, I hope you are doing well and I wish you peace as often as possible in your challenges.

      So happy to get your words and thoughts on this post, thank you so very much. I always enjoy your perspective. :)

      I wish you a beautiful Sunday and a brilliant week ahead. Glad you are back ‘in town’!

      Blessings and light, always, always,


  10. Holistic Wayfarer

    Beautiful, Allison. We are our worst critic and enemy. We live our life on the rock or sand of our self-talk. Thx for the email: I had figured, and it was perfectly fine.

    Keep reaching.


    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Thank you so much, Diana, for reading and for your beautiful comment. I love this: “rock or sand of our self-talk.” So damn true.

      You are welcome, and thank you, too. :)

      Peace, always,


  11. Zuhaib Shaikh

    Dear Allison

    You’ve managed to hit the metaphorical nail on the head again. And that too in your usual, gentle style that builds its way so lyrically, gathering rosebuds and putting them together in an irresistible bouquet. Among the things I learn from you is also your writing style.

    I love the metaphor of steel bars. How you can peer through them, look beyond and actually watch your dream unfold, you reach out your hand to try and grab at it. The realization that these bars are superficial, artificial, is hugely empowering.

    By far, beginning something is the largest weight I’ve ever carried. But once I’ve begun things, the natural creative course has always flourished. It is indeed the single point that determines the rest of everything, is beginning.

    Thank you for this endearing read.


    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dear Zuhaib,

      Thank you so much for your kind and beautiful words! I am humbled to read them and so grateful you shared them.

      I cannot thank you enough for how you speak about my writing. I feel blessed!

      “The realization that these bars are superficial, artificial, is hugely empowering.” – this makes me want to cheer. Like stand up and cheer! This is exactly what I want for us all – to get past the invisible forces holding us down. The fear bars. It’s not easy but it is totally possible. Artists are beasts, I love their bravery, right? Love it.

      It is my pleasure to write in any case, but to have my words met with such charming thoughts is such an added gift. Happiness, happiness in the exchange of ideas. ;)

      My thanks and wishes to you for a most beautiful week,



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