Feel the Fear: Making a Whole Life Chart

Last time we looked at the importance of taking responsibility based on Susan Jeffers’ Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. I’m sharing my notes on the book to help in my quest to dredge the fears from my unconscious. Thanks to Pluto and Saturn transiting my 12th house, all sorts of stuff has been resurfacing and I’m being forced to rethink my entire life…

Generally speaking, life is made up of many different areas and things you put your energies into, such as family, relationships, job, and so on. If you put too much emphasis on only one area of your life – like a relationship – and that falls apart, then your life is going to feel pretty empty. But when you have a balanced life full of lots of different things, then if one part gets screwed up, you still have the other parts to fall back on.

Over the last few years, my life has imploded and every area has got screwed up. Some areas are worse than others, but the whole thing is looking shaky. The phrase ‘dark night of the soul’ hardly does it justice – it’s more like a full-on apocalypse. I need to recreate my life from scratch (again – yes, this has happened before, and yes, it was the last time Saturn was in my 12th house!). Thankfully, Jeffers supplies a template I can use to do just that: the Whole Life Grid – a 3×3 table of nine squares.

The idea is to fill in the grid by putting a different part of your life in each box. To get you started, she includes things like:

  • family
  • work
  • relationship
  • friends
  • hobby
  • leisure
  • alone time
  • personal growth
  • contribution

You could also include spiritual practice or religion, and I’ll need a box for health. ‘Contribution’ means something that allows you to make your own special difference in the world. It’s whatever you can do that others can’t. You could call it gift or service instead. Your gift doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could relate to your family, friends, community, country, or the world. Just look at the circumstances of your life, see what needs to be done and then see how you can help.

Here’s my completed Whole Life Chart:

I’ve put Spiritual Practice in the centre square because it has an impact on every other area of my life. Without access to my deeper Self, nothing else works. As for the rest of it, Gift and Writing might be the same thing but I’m not sure at the moment. I’ve got 2 empty boxes – space for a Relationship (but I don’t want one right now), and maybe Fun…? The Job box has a question mark because I need one but I don’t know what to do, and to be honest, the Friends box should really be empty too. Plenty to work on there.

  • When you’ve completed your grid, assess each area of your life and decide what needs to be changed. Pick one of the areas and visualise what you want that part of your life to look like. What would you be doing? How would it feel?
  • Write down the details, and include all the things you need to do to make it a reality. Then take action to make it happen.
  • The last point is the key to your success. You must take action towards the life you want to create. If you just sit and dream about it, nothing will change.
  • Do this process for each area in the grid until you’ve assessed your whole life in detail. Create daily goals in each area that will move you towards the life you want to live.

Start with the most obvious problems, or the most pressing areas. For example, my health issues are causing problems in other areas of my life so that’s something I need to take care of as a matter of urgency. Once I’ve brought myself back from the brink of exhaustion and burnout, then I can begin to tackle some of my other problems while maintaining realistic daily health goals.

It’s important to be realistic about what you can accomplish. Don’t try to tackle everything at once and don’t expect your life to change overnight. Some things will be easy to change, while others may take more effort or time. You’ll also need to decide what success means in each area. It doesn’t have to be an obvious achievement, in worldly terms; it can also be an inner feeling of satisfaction or contentment. Define for yourself what success will look like so you’ll know when you’ve achieved it.

For example, I’ll know my health is improving when I can get up in the morning without feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck. To achieve that, I’m going to have to make a lot of changes to my routine, including early nights, deep relaxation, and more exercise and fresh air. Success in this case would mean increased energy levels and better concentration.

However, I also suspect that many of my health problems have a spiritual dimension. My life is being dismantled and regenerated – a kind of 360 degree shamanic initiation. I feel like I’m being turned inside out, flipped upside down and shaken until everything falls away.

When the disintegration process first began, I was full of rage and fear. I didn’t understand why it was happening. I thought I’d dealt with all this stuff before and here it was, back again – and apparently worse than ever. I’m beginning to understand that this is part of the process, so I’m shifting into acceptance – slowly…!

The dark night of the soul is a beacon calling me home.

Susan Jeffers says that when you get upset or scared, you’re not allowing the abundance of the higher Self to guide you. A feeling of emptiness or loneliness is a clue that you’ve gone off course. But the solution won’t be found by fixing your life from the outside. You need to reconnect with your higher Self or soul.

When you’re aligned with your higher Self, everything flows better and there’s nothing to fear.

She says there are two kinds of experiences: those that come from the higher Self and those that have something to teach you. I would argue that, potentially, these are the same thing. The first feels like joy and the second feels like struggle, but they’re both perfect. If you’re struggling, it’s because there’s something you haven’t learned yet.

In my case, I haven’t learned to surrender and trust. So every time I resist, I get a slap from the universe!

When things are going wrong in your life, it’s tempting to change the external world to get things back under control. But this is putting the cart before the horse. It works better the other way around.

“The path that needs changing is the one in your mind.”

Change your mind first and the external world will rearrange itself to reflect that change. That doesn’t mean you can sit on your arse and wait for things to get better – you still need to act on those changes. And remember: you don’t know what’s going to happen next. So if your plans don’t work out the way you hoped, it’s a sign the universe has something else in store. Stay open to possibilities and accept the reality of the situation by dealing with it positively.

And if nothing is changing or getting better and you feel discouraged, remember you don’t have the whole picture. Changes are happening underneath, hidden inside, like a seed sprouting in the earth. You just have to trust that your life is unfolding perfectly in its own time.

Life is an open process that never ends. All you have to do, is take the next step…