How often do you let fear get in the way of something you really want to do or something that is really important to you?
This is something I have been working on for a long time. I grew up as a pretty risk averse kind of girl. I like to know how things are going to turn out before I start them. I tend to do things I think I will be good at. I always want to know where I am heading and what my life might look like in the future.
It was only this year when I realised that what I was doing, I didn’t want to be doing any more. But the problem was, I didn’t know what I did want. Since then, I have had some time to figure out the general direction that I want to go in, but still, it is definitely not a clear picture. And this is scary for me!
I heard somewhere that there are three ways that things can change when you are on the wrong path.
- You jump – you decide to drop everything to take a risk and go after what you want
- You dip a toe – trying something new alongside what you are already doing. Maybe part time study, starting a business in your free time, volunteer work
- You are pushed – if you don’t change you can guarantee the universe will do it for you. An injury, getting fired or some other life changing event is inevitable (although you might be left with years of stagnation and suffering in-between!)
As much as I would love to have had the guts to take the first option, I definitely went for the second. The first step I took was still a safe one, deciding to study at the weekends. I have to say, it might be a safe option but it isn’t easy – this year was probably one of the most draining of my life – but it gave me confidence that I was doing the right thing and at least I was taking baby steps in the right direction.
I guess I am still in this phase really. I have left my old job now and I am continuing my studies part-time. What I really want is to jump straight in and work towards starting my own business but it is difficult with fear holding onto your ankles.
Some of the steps I am taking in the right direction:
- Writing and sharing this blog
- Starting a meetup group
- Applying for volunteer work
My problem is that I overthink everything. The trick is to realise that the past and the future are just an illusion and only the present moment is real. Our human brains tend to look to the past (memory) for advice before acting, dictated by the primal instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Any emotional memory of failure, rejection, inadequacy comes straight to the surface, whether we are aware of it or not, slamming the brakes on and causing us to freeze in the moment. I was talking about this recently with Hannah from The Healing Woman and she used the phrase “analysis is your paralysis” which is pretty fitting.
The thing is, even though our memory can be a really useful tool it often exaggerates the severity of the outcome. We can tend towards catastrophic thinking, looking at what the worst possible outcome could be. This builds up the action to be such a huge thing in our minds that we are unable to make even a simple move. In reality, the actual outcome is often a total anti-climax and as they say.. life goes on.
For example, I have been writing this blog for a while but never really felt comfortable sharing it amongst people I knew. I wanted to get the message out there but I wasn’t confident about being the one to do it. I decided that I wanted to share one of my recent blogs publicly and as soon as it came to hitting the post button, I froze. I couldn’t figure out why it was so difficult to do something so simple. But when I sat down and thought about it, I realised just how much my mind was holding me back. All of the what if’s racing around in my head..
“What if people think I am stupid”
“What if people judge me”
“What if people disagree with what I have to say”
“What if lots of people I know read it think differently of me”
I noticed that all of these thoughts were related to other people and how they would react to the situation. But that is exactly the thing that I had no control over. The things in my power were doing my research and writing the post – beyond that it was the reader’s business what they thought of it. I had no idea what anyone’s opinion would be, but I was letting the fear of a negative reaction stop me from sharing what I believed to be an important message.
When I finally did share, the result was nothing compared to how I had exaggerated it in my mind. Yes I had a few more views than usual and a couple of people commented on the post but that was it. No huge reaction, and I just got on with my day and didn’t dwell on it.
This situation made me realise just how much time I have been wasting on planning, overthinking and analysing throughout my life. Of course, acting blindly isn’t always the best thing but there is a balance to be found somewhere between thinking and overthinking. There have been lots of times when I wanted to do something and instead I sat and talked myself out of it. I know now that when I want to do something I should just do it rather than think about doing it. I think it is something that will take practice but I am glad I am starting to work on it now when I still have lots of time to make changes.
Sorry this is a bit of a rambling post today but I needed to get some ideas off my chest. Let me know if you have had any similar experiences and how you are working towards positive change 😊