Have you ever longed to try something new? What’s holding you back? What dreams have you been putting on hold in your life? What keeps you stuck? What paralyzes you?
For me, the answer to all these questions is one word: FEAR.
Fear has kept me locked up in a very neat looking box. I’m safe in this box. It’s mine, and I’ve been living here for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember moving in- it surely didn’t happen all at once. I’ve gradually built it into a small comfortable confinement. I know every corner, every edge. I’ve explored the definite boundaries- the rules.
There are LOTS of rules in this box.
I’ve made all the rules, of course.
To keep myself safe, comfortable, unchanging.
In response to the fear.
The fear of what’s outside the box - outside the small little fragment of the world I know so well.
I even know the FEAR well - and when it creeps around, when I lift the lid to peek outside the box and the overwhelm of options, fear of failure, dismay at my lack of focus (this list is endless)- I know I will do almost ANYTHING to suppress and run from it- it seems WAY easier than looking it straight in the face.
Do you know what happens when you look FEAR in the face?
One of my favorite teachers, Dr. Wayne Dyer always said FEAR is an acronym- it stands for
When I first looked my fear in the face about two years ago now, I got served a BIG piece of humble pie.
I realized I’d been lying to myself.
I’d been feeding myself False Evidence (that Appeared to be very Real).
I realized I created the FEAR box to keep myself from the unknown for a myriad of reasons:
The shame of having lied to myself for so long.
The discomfort of growth.
The uneasiness of change.
The uncertainty in everything I didn’t know.
And most of all, the paralyzing fear that if I did change, I would make the WRONG decision.
The lies I told myself:
I told myself I wasn’t good at anything else.
I told myself I had no other options.
I told myself I couldn’t support myself in any other way.
I told myself this was the only thing I was good at and if I didn’t do it anymore I would have nothing. I would be nothing.
I told myself I didn’t know what else I wanted to do.
My dreams whispered to me.
In my sleep, in my waking. In those moments of exhaustion, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I always told them NO.
FEAR feels real.
It wasn’t until I realized FEAR is only a feeling, an indicator of growth and discomfort, something to be examined, explored and transformed that I was able to say YES to my dreams.
To say YES to my deepest desires.
It was a hard pill to swallow, admitting the life I’d created (my box) was not only NOT what I truly wanted, but based in FEAR instead of LOVE. Full of writhing pain and uncertainty rather than the playful dance of curiosity.
Confronting my fear involved some brutal honesty -
The life I’d created was no longer working for me.
Now, I listen to the whispers.
I look for the joy.
I feed on the inspiration.
I’m fueled by my passion.
And yes, my life has completely changed.
YES, I’m still afraid.
The difference now is I acknowledge it and I walk with it. It doesn’t cause me to build a box of safety around myself.
It rides in the backseat with me - an analogy from author Elizabeth Gilbert- but it’s no longer driving the car.
I’m letting LOVE take the wheel.
Since first confronting my fear almost exactly two years ago my life has radically changed in every way.
I sold my house, got rid of virtually everything I owned, left an abusive, unfulfilling marriage, traveled across Asia, got into the best shape of my life, competed in my first bodybuilding competition, coped and healed from pretty paralyzing PTSD, grown in the most fulfilling partnership in my life with my partner Connor, and most recently put in my notice at the company I’ve loved and worked for for over ten years to pursue my dream: owning my own business.
This is the power of looking fear in the face.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. But taking a leap and having it not turn out the way it looks in my head isn’t failure. It’s just a different result.
Failure is a judgement.
If I produce results I don’t like, I know how to change them. There are always choices. So, on the other hand, maybe this change is not terrifying.
Maybe it’s exciting, exhilarating, maybe it’s growth, it’s change, it’s adventure.
What are you afraid of?
What’s really holding you back from going after your dreams?
I’d love to hear your story.