Pema Chodron really says it best. In reading, and rereading, When Things Fall Apart, when it comes to our darkness, shadow, fear, regret, resentment or whatever/however you wanna call it, LEANING INTO IT is the trick. It doesn't feel pretty, it's not an ecstatic moment of glory, or excitement, but it IS enlightening.
To know our darkness intimately allows us the chance to be more comfortable with the chaos of life. It's inevitable that we all have it at some point or other. By understanding our chaotic nature, and giving ourselves the opportunity to fall into the difficulty, fully without hesitancy creates the dynamic of permission, curiosity, and a kind of familiarity as challenging things present themselves to us. If we are familiar with these feelings then they don't barrel us over like a 10 foot wave. Instead it kinda just knocks us off our surf board, leash still attached to the ankle, and we get up kind of bummed we missed the wave, but ready to catch the next. If we just hang out in the two foot wave section of the ocean all the time the we'll never know the glory of free riding the bigger stuff. Depth will cease to grow within us. (I just spent all day at the beach yesterday.)
I think that if we stop to grow, and learn from our difficulties that's a sort of death. But through deeper self-evaluation, and diving into our deeper, murky parts we can continually engage with life. An equally present part of life, change. In essence it's a path of least resistance, which may sound counter-intuitive, but by going into the hard stuff, it loosens tension on the chains. The more we avoid, and shove our challenges away (and deep into ourselves) the more tension literally and figuratively we create.
So my offering to you, is to take some time to meditate on all the stuff that doesn't feel good. Stay with it a while. Know it like a friend, so next time it comes knocking on your door you don't quickly shut the door and escape out your back window! Stay with it, ask the pain questions like where do you come from? Why do you feel this way? What parts of my life are you serving/not serving? Etc. I can assure you the next time similar challenges present themselves to you, it'll be a little bit easier, and you'll come up out of the water with a little less fear of death.