Fear: Are You Holding Yourself Back?

Let’s face it: very few of us are fearless individuals leaping without thought into whatever the world sets before us. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us are afraid of lots of things – and I’m not just talking actual phobias. I mean the kind of fears that keep you up at night and which are intrinsically connected with your responsibilities, duties, and loved ones. Will you be able to pay the bills this month? What if something happens to you or a loved one? How will you protect your children?

I’m a worrier, and I think I probably come by it naturally – my grandmothers were / are both worriers, as is my mother. And a certain amount of fear is probably all right, so long as it doesn’t paralyze you. But therein is the problem: there is a line after which the fear is no longer protecting you, but insulating you – even from good things.

Writers certainly don’t have a monopoly on fear, but we do seem to be pretty familiar with it – maybe it’s playing with “what if” all the time that creeps into our everyday thoughts. Whatever the case, if you actually want to make money as a writer – or succeed at most anything, really – there will come a time when you have to face at least some of your fears. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of criticism, and perhaps even fear of success.

Fear of success? Doesn’t seem to fit up there, does it? And yet, I have met writers who seem to be afraid of success. Some too who have given up just a smidgen too soon – as though afraid of the success which lay ahead of them.

Now, like I said, I’m a worrier by nature. But I also know that a little fear may be healthy, and too much fear is suffocating. If you start spending all your time worrying about the “what ifs” of rejection, criticism, critique, success, fame, failure, and whatever else could be ahead, you’ll stop short and never go anywhere. Here’s the thing: you will be rejected. You will receive criticism, and not everyone will like you or your work. BUT, some will. And most importantly, YOU need to believe in and like your work. It is worth fighting for. It is worth trying to get right, even if it takes oodles and caboodles of edits and rewrites and you just want to burn the whole thing and never even look at another word again.

So, by all means, set yourself some limits and rules to keep you safe … but make sure you haven’t built yourself a cage. Because you were meant to soar, and you can only do that if every so often, you shake off the fears weighing you down, spread your wings, and take to the sky.

Is fear protecting you, or smothering you? How do we recognize that line?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Is Resistance to Change Standing in Your Way?

I’ve been thinking about the idea that we are all responsible for our own experience and creation of reality again. (For a previous blog outlining the principles, please see: It’s All in the Perspective.) It led me to start considering how, for the most part, we all fear change to lesser or greater degrees. And the fact is, change is hard. It’s much easier to stick with something you’re familiar with, to what you know is tried and true, to follow the same path you’ve already broken that’s so familiar you could keep walking with your eyes closed.

The catch is, resisting change for too long creates stagnation. The same way the water in a bucket sitting on the deck all summer will eventually get green and slimy, so too do our minds and lives when we continue to resist change – especially when it means saying goodbye to opportunity.

I’ve always thought it was a silly idea that anyone could be afraid of success, until you realize that promotion can actually be very bad for your health in terms of the stress it creates in your life (here’s a link from the Daily Mail UK: “Promotion at work can increase stress and be bad for your health” – or try searching “job promotion” and “stress” for lots of others). Because while promotion is generally seen as a great thing (probably more money, high status position, progress in your career, etc), it also means leaping off of the path you’ve known and been familiar with for so long, out of your current position, and venturing somewhere you haven’t been before. You may wonder if you actually deserve the promotion, if you really wanted it, if you can handle it, if it’s worth it, etc, etc.

Here’s where creating your own reality becomes really important: It’s up to YOU to decide if promotion or any change is a good or bad thing.

Sounds simple, huh, when you’re not sweating over imminent potential change and all it’s ramifications? If you haven’t considered it before – or if you’d much rather brood and stay gloomy and Eeyore like – than it will be exceptionally hard. However, if you look at it and realize that what you have before you is an opportunity, than things start to look brighter.

I will use – particularly as it’s foremost in my mind right now – my husband’s situation. He’s received what is essentially a promotion, but it means he’ll be leaving a job he does very well and has done for 9+ years for something similar in the same company, but which not only has he never done, but which is a new expansion for the company. The company vehicle will be gone, and he faces having to go in to negotiate for some time of pay adjustment, including what the equivalency will be for a new vehicle. The stress of starting this new position, having to buy an new car, leaving what he’s familiar with, he’s about ready to toss the whole thing.

But, it’s all in the perspective.

Instead, he has the opportunity to do something new – which is what he’s been looking for, so he will no longer be bored in his current position. He gets to buy a new car. There’s a good chance of more money. He’s helping to create a new position, which means he doesn’t have to fill anyone else’s shoes. This is a stepping stone for further advancement, and an opportunity for the company to see how he works and the quality of his work up close, since he’s usually in the field.

All right. Long story short, my point is this: change is hard – I’ll be the first to admit I’m usually quite resistant to it, and massive change takes time to adjust to – it’s taken me over a year to finally be used to the idea that I’m a mom. BUT, as humans we need change in our lives, and change is the only way we’ll ever be able to keep moving forward to reach our dreams.

So remember: it’s all in the perspective. Change can be a fantastic opportunity and a stepping stone to further success, so long as you recognize it as such. Look for the positive side, and try not to get bogged down in the fear and uncertainty that is, quite frankly, easier. Every change is an opportunity to grow, to change, and to make sure you don’t go stagnant with slime growing over you. 🙂

Have a great week, and thanks for reading.