The Downside of Being a Turtle

AKA, Retreating into your shell when life gets scary.

My therapist says I’m like a turtle. I don’t mind her claim. I like turtles and had a few of them as pets growing up. Plus, I know she’s not referring to my overall look, she’s referring to how I retreat into my shell when the world gets a little too scary for me.

Sometimes heaven is not dealing with people. It’s airplane mode when I’m not on a plane, and noise canceling headphones all day long. It’s a strategic disengagement with the alerts and noise so I can concentrate on what’s important, which for me is keeping my head clear so I can be in an optimal state to create, help my clients help others, and make decisions in alignment with my higher self.

Getting my turtle on isn’t the same as disengaging in the name of progress. Turtling (I am hella nervous to google that in case it’s some weird sex thing and I get a ton of porn pop-ups) is a willful retraction from the world driven by fear. It’s fueled by an aspect of my personality, established in an effort to keep me safe that says, “The world and the people in it might hurt you, so you need to retreat.”

Being a turtle can be dangerous because it keeps us from contributing beautiful bits of ourselves to the world (and the world NEEDS us to be us.)

My immediate goal is to stop being a turtle. I am majorly motivated to change right now. I’m in the midst of doing my damnedest to no longer allow my choices to be dictated by fear, particularly as the countdown to Christmas begins, which I wrote about in this post.

We can’t cut ties with fear. It will ALWAYS be there, prodding us to do or not do things, which means the most productive thing we can do is create a dialogue with it if we’ve never had one, or transform the current dialogue, so we can stop allowing it to convince us to stop participating in life.

Maybe you can relate to me and my turtle issues. If you can, you might find the following plan of non-attack useful the next time fear tells you to retreat into your shell:

1 — Say hey. I’ve always denied fear’s existence, like it wasn’t OK to say, Whattup? What do you want? I’d get wasted instead of facing my feelings, and be inundated with fear for days.

Yeah, that wasn’t fun. I’m really grateful those days are over because they were B.R.U.T.A.L. But that doesn’t mean I currently live without fear. I still experience it, chattering away at me every day of my life, telling me to do stuff that won’t help me, and not do stuff that will.

After years of trying to outrun it, I now make a conscious effort to engage with fear in a non-aggressive way. I do my best to be patient as it shares its woes because I know from experience the more aggressive and dismissive I am, the more it’s going to pressure me to act on its super shitty advice. No thanks, fear, but I’ll hear you out, out of respect for your power.

2 — Acknowledge its power. Speaking of power, guess what has the ability to constrict your breathing, give you explosive diarrhea, convince you to pass on incredible opportunities, and emotionally regress to your 10-year-old self? Fear.

Fear is powerful. Respect, witness, and acknowledge it. You do that by noticing when it starts coursing through your body instead of trying to outrun it by getting ragey, overspending, or chugging wine and posting regrettable Facebook pictures/updates (Yeesh, right? Been there, done that. 😳)

There is a tool we all possess that can help us. We tend to minimize it because it seems too good to be true and therefore, we assume it doesn’t work. Yet it has the power to help us process strong emotions instead of allowing them to consume us and dictate our choices.

It’s your breath! Breathing, like a gluten, soy, and corn-free cookie that tastes good, is no fucking joke. And It’s nuts not to use it because it’s free and doesn’t leave you filled with regret. So utilize your breath! (Check out this post from my resource page that offers some breathing methods I use.)

3 — See it as separate. We blend with fear, almost as much as some people attempt to blend away their nose holes via contouring. (If you want a laugh, check out this YouTube video about contouring by Sailor J. Unless you’re easily offended.)

We don’t see fear as separate from us, but rather, as who and all that we are. We proclaim it to be our master: “Here you go, Fear: the key to my life, even though you have a shitty track record.

Here’s the deal: Fear isn’t you, it’s an aspect of who you are.

And who you are is human, which means you are one of many other humans on the planet who are equally as skilled at letting fear blend and bully away their power. Therefore, you are not alone in your struggle.

I’m creating a new wellness offering for my readers with book recommendations my therapist gave me. I’ll be sending it out when it’s done (by January 1st! 🎉) because there’s a book in it that does an amazing job of helping you unblend with fear. It’s a life-altering practice and I rely on it heavily in my life. Enter your first name and email here and I’ll be sure to send it to you.

Update: I just gave myself the blinks googling “turtling” and looks like I’m out of the woods because there’s nothing dirty popping up in my search results. Phew.

My goal is to lay off being a turtle and stay more engaged with my feelings, even the ones I don’t enjoy, like fear. I’m not saying I’m going to do it perfectly, but with the insights I shared with you today reminding me that I can do this, I think I’m in a good position to make some progress when it comes to redirecting my penchant for getting my turtle on.

I hope what I’ve shared might help you in some way. It’s not always easy to share my struggles, but the support I get from readers like you makes it worth the effort. ❤️

Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments. You are loved.



Originally published at on December 5, 2018.