One of the greatest realisations I ever had was that difficult problems in life can always be addressed by breaking them down and revisiting everything you’ve ever taken for granted. After all, everything from our cognition to our emotions, to our perception of the world around us all stem from expectations about how this world and reality work.
I think fear is a really good example of this. It’s a basic emotion that we’ve all experienced, that fundamentally comes from a place of preservation. Fear is meant to protect us. It’s a base warning that there is a potential threat and that we need to be wary. Yes, sometimes fear is essential, but more often than not, it can also limit us and be our biggest enemy.
Bag, Dhs3,450, Paco Rabanne at Net-a-Porter
When I look back on a time that I felt fear the most, it was usually right before I was about to take a huge risk. I was terrified of moving to LA aged 18 without knowing a soul. I also remember my heart pounding on my first day working at Wynn Las Vegas. There I was, a young girl from Sarasota, Florida, suddenly sitting at a desk with authentic Picasso paintings on my office walls and a job title I had only dreamed about years before. I also remember my hands shaking as I booked the one-way ticket to Dubai that started an entirely new life for me here.
In every situation, I could have listened to that initial fear that threatened to take over my entire body and make my decisions for me. But for some reason, I chose to suppress it and take the risk, even though I knew I was in for a host of new challenges. And now looking back, I realise that those moments where I felt fear and chose to ignore it were some of the most powerful moments of my life.
Eyeshadow palette in Moonlight, Dhs277, Dior
One of the key elements to self-work is a constant re-examination of what you think you already know. There is a series of four questions that I love that was developed by author and thought-leader Byron Katie. For any assumption, thought, or fear, you ask yourself these questions in order: ‘Is it true?’ ‘Can you absolutely know it’s true?’ ‘How do you react, or what happens, when you believe that thought?’ ‘Who would you be without the thought?’
Shoes, Dhs3,449, Aquazzura
Black Saffron eau de parfum, Dhs848, Byredo at Ounass
I love these questions because they force us to reassess everything from our understanding of reality to how that perception shapes up – and how it relates to our identity and ego. It also allows us to see that most things are bigger than us. And that realising that we don’t know everything (or anything for sure), is the biggest power we could ever give ourselves. Sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to go, but it’s usually for a good reason. And sometimes, we have to override what we are feeling to become bigger than we already are.
Top, Dhs1,370, Bambah
Next year is starting to look like a very big year for me, both career-wise and personally. And with opportunities come challenges. I’m looking forward to tuning in even more precisely on when to listen to my gut and when to override my fear and take the risk.
From the December 2018 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia
Press play to watch Carla DiBello, Shiva Safai and Caroline Stanbury on a panel at House of Bazaar 2018.