Category Archives: fear

What If the Fear Isn’t Going Anywhere?

What if you knew, without a doubt, that the fear you feel about going after what you want isn’t going anywhere, ever?

Our lizard brains are experts at making us believe we’re in mortal danger if we even think about pushing through the fear, anxiety and adrenaline, aren’t they? No wonder we all try to wait until the fear is gone before taking a step forward with the stuff we REALLY want. I know I do that allthefuckingtime.

That’s why it took me 5+ years to go from wanting to become a coach, to becoming one.

And why it took me 2+ years from the time I graduated training to launching my business.

And it’s also why — to this very day — I have a hard time talking about what I do. I don’t know if it’s impostor syndrome or if I’m convinced I’ll be ridiculed for choosing such a non-left-brained profession (or maybe some of both)…all I know is that if I try to tell someone about what I do and how I help, it’s a full-on stumble-and-stammer-fest.

For me, and maybe for you, too, fear has become a false indicator of readiness, and even worthiness.

My reasoning goes like this:

I’m scared, so I must not be ready.
I’m not ready, so I must not have prepared fully.
I didn’t prepare fully, so I must not be taking this seriously.
I’m not taking this seriously, so I’m not worthy of getting what I want (so why bother trying?).

It’s an ugly chain of false beliefs, all starting with the assumption that it’s possible to be without fear when it comes to doing what matters most.

But what if that just isn’t possible? What if being afraid is part of pursuing something important? And part of being human? And the fear isn’t going anywhere?

If I wait for the fear to leave, I will never do the thing my heart wants, the thing I believe I’m here to do.

I’m left with two options:

1. Abandon my dream

2. Figure out how to step forward despite the fear

The idea of “feel the fear and do it anyway” is not a new concept, of course. For some reason, though, a conversation with Suzanne Ragan Lentz about this idea allowed it to sink more deeply into my bones.

So…if I know that the fear will always be with me to one degree or another, which option do I choose?

I want to go with the second one. (I may not always succeed, but that’s the one I’m committed to.)

I feel like I say this here all the time, but it’s a practice.

Just like in meditation, where you let your thought float by and come back to your breath, you let your fear float by and come back to the truth of who you are and what you want, and step forward.

There is no magic pill. There is no amount of time you can wait to avoid the practice.

You practice by doing. And by trying again even if you let fear drive the bus for a while.

How to practice this

But how am I going to practice this? How will you?

It will look different for everyone, and it’ll depend on what you’re afraid of.

For me, it will mean pushing myself to talk more about what I do, rather than hiding.

For you, it might mean hitting the publish button more, or saying no to opportunities that aren’t quite what you want. It might mean risking pissing off your family in order to do a better job of meeting your needs for self-care, or enforcing your boundaries with clients and co-workers.

Here’s what I want you to know

I know it’s hard. (Believe me, I know.)

It’s normal. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or the thing you’re trying to do.

Being afraid says nothing about who you are or what you’re capable of. It doesn’t mean you’re not ready, or unworthy.

Fear just is, and we each have to choose, over and over again, to move forward in spite of it.

I’m tired of waiting for the fear to go away. How about you?

The right support can make it much easier to practice moving forward despite the scariness of it. Here are some ways I can help.

Dealing with Fear

Note: This post refers a lot to Thing-Finding, but if you’ve already found your Thing, try reading it with your business or a big project in mind.

By far, the most common questions I wound up receiving for last week’s free teleclass were about dealing with fear.

There were lots of different fears that people mentioned:

Fear of failure
Fear of overwhelm
Fear of losing a stable income
Fear of not being able to handle the new skills required of them
Fear of going after their Thing and still winding up unhappy
Fear that everything will change

I’ve experienced every single one of those at some point or another. Some of them I’ve experience today.

Let’s get real about Fear.

1. Fear will (most likely) always be there.

I say “most likely” because I refuse to rule out the possibility that one could reach a point where fear is a non-issue. Maybe that’s what “enlightenment” is.

But for now, I know I still deal with it. And pretty much everyone I know deals with it.

It’s part of doing stuff that takes you outside your comfort zone.

2. Fear is not a good indicator of whether you’ve found your Thing or not.

I used to think that when I’d found my Thing, it would be easy to create a business around it.

Ha!

I delayed starting my business for nearly two years because of that belief.

3. Every single one of the fears I listed above comes from getting ahead of yourself.

You – right now – have a certain skill-set and set of past experiences that (naturally) inform what you believe is possible for you.

If in your heart you think you want to move to Bali and start a cage-free Kopi Luwak farm, but all your adult life you’ve worked as a technical writer for a big company, of course it’s going to feel like an impossible transition.

The fear comes from trying to figure out how you’ll get what you want in one big step, without all the little steps in between.

4. There are parts of you that know the Truth.

The truth is:

The Universe is on your side and wants you to succeed. (And your commitment helps it to conspire on your behalf.)

When you want something – like to find your Thing – it’s because you’re aligning with what your soul already knows about what you want and what you can have.

See also: You wouldn’t want it if you couldn’t have it.

So if the fear doesn’t go away, but it’s stopping you from finding your Thing, what can you do?

5. You can learn how to move forward despite the fear.

It all comes down to learning.

Learn how to strengthen your connection with the parts of yourself that know the truth.

Learn how to process all the emotions that come up when you hang out at the edge of your comfort zone.

Learn how to give yourself safety so you can explore your potential Thing without scaring the shit out of yourself.

These are all skills you can learn.

By exploring safely (one manageable step at a time), you’ll build a history of positive experiences with that Thing.

You’ll also build a body of evidence that doing something a little bit scary turns out okay (and is totally worth it).

The rush of joy you feel from working on your Thing will help sustain you when you’re trembling at having to put yourself out there in a new and uncomfortable way.

And that’s what will help you make more progress despite the fear.

You don’t need to get over yourself or just do it.

That’s why I created Exploring the Shmorian Thing-Finding Methodology.

I’ll be sharing the tools that will help you know what you want, manage the fear and explore safely.

Exploring the Shmorian Thing-Finding Methodology starts on Wednesday, 6/29. And there’s still time to get in on the early registration price (but only through Friday, 6/24). I hope you’ll join us.

Joining the Ranks

My darling readers, I have news.

Big news.

By the end of this week, I will be joining the ranks of the self-employed.

I am about to become a full-time entrepreneur.

It took me a while to figure out how to share this news with you, because it’s a transition and transitions are complicated. (Maybe I’ll share more about the complexities in another post.)

As complicated as it is, and as scary as it is, I just know that it’s time for me to move forward in this new direction.

A tweet from Jen Louden sums it up quite nicely for me:

When you “should” on yourself to do what weakens (even if you’re good at it) you exhaust your precious life force.

I have been in IT for over 10 years. And I’m damn good at it. But part of why I was continuing in my job was out of a sense of should.

I shouldn’t walk away from this stable career. I should wait until my business is bringing in more income. I should wait until we have a larger emergency fund.

I should wait until fill-in-the-blank.

What I’ve known for a long time – but convinced myself I must be wrong or making it up – is that staying in the job was weakening me.

My life force, or let’s call it creative energy, was being used up. There wasn’t enough left over to give my business and Right People what they need.

That’s what this move is all about.

Giving myself what I need and want.
Having more to give to my Right People.
Creating a life and work that is satisfying and fits me.

But isn’t this risky?

Yes. There is risk in leaving a lucrative career for something new.

Risk of failure.
Risk of losing our financial stability.
Risk of not being able to live the “American Dream” (which is pretty much bullshit anyway).

But, as Hiro so wisely shared with me, there is also risk in staying in my job.

Risk of losing my joy, passion and creativity.
Risk of becoming so depressed I’d give up on my business completely.
Risk of damaging my health by giving in to self-medication as a coping mechanism.

The more I listened to my heart, the harder it became to ignore its desires.

And the harder it became to ignore my heart, the riskier it felt to stay in a job that was taking the best of me and leaving only crumbs. The risks of staying feel far more costly to me than the risks of forging my own path.

Now begins the next adventure. I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads.

When Selves Collide

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably already know that I like to talk to my blocks and various selves (à la Havi and Hiro). Here’s a little story about some insight I gained by doing this seemingly wacky stuff.

Lately I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed and tired and generally down, leading to a heavy case of the Blahhhhs. (Yes, that’s the medical term.)

I was so completely devoid of motivation that I wasn’t even able to meditate or journal about it.

Finally, yesterday I got myself to do a little Dance of Shiva and then meditate.

The question I asked before starting to dance was, “What needs to shift in order to stop feeling so stuck?”

A few minutes of Level 4 was about all I could handle, followed by some savasana.

Once I started meditating, I dropped into my heart, and tried to meet with some of my selves, to see if I could get a handle on why I was having such a hard time.

I can’t share much detail right now, but part of why I’m having a hard time is because there are certain things I have to do that I no longer want to do. And when things get difficult during the things-I-don’t-want-to-do, I’ve been having extreme emotional reactions. Despair, anxiety, hopelessness, powerlessness.

Not much was happening amongst my selves, so I focused my attention on whichever self it was who was creating these strong reactions.

Enter Self #1

I don’t know what this self looks like (no defining characteristics like my friend Hedgehog Girl). But pretty quickly I sensed that this self was creating these strong reactions so that I’ll hurry up and make the changes necessary so that I won’t have to do that icky stuff anymore.

She’s afraid that if she stops giving me these unpleasant reactions, I’ll just coast along. The change I want to make will never happen, because I’ll be too comfortable.

Hmmm…interesting.

So I thanked her for caring about me. And for believing that I can make the necessary changes. And especially for her wanting to support me in making this change.

(And I wasn’t just blowing smoke, either. There’s something surprisingly touching about having a part of yourself doing what it can to make sure you accomplish the things you want.)

Then I explained that these extreme emotional reactions are draining me of my energy. And when my energy is drained, I can’t do what I need to do to make the changes I want to make.

I asked her, “What kind of agreement can we make, so that you know I’m making these changes as fast as possible, and you’re not helping me in a way that actually slows me down?”

Silence.

And then I got, “It’s not just me.”

For a second I didn’t know what that meant, but then I realized there were two selves at play.

Hello, Self #2

Self #1 was creating the strong reactions in hopes that I would hurry up and make this change.

But Self #2 was drafting off of those reactions, and keeping me from channeling that desire for change into action toward change.

Because Self #2 is afraid of what the change will mean for me and this (mostly) comfortable life I have. She prefers the devil she knows.

Both of these selves are actually trying to protect me, even though they’re going about it in opposite ways.

One is trying to protect me from withering away in stagnation, the other from taking crazy risks that will put me in danger.

That’s about as far as I got with that meditation before my mind started to wander. But it’s a good start toward unravelling this stuck.

The next step will be to try to help them both see that their attempts to help are actually hurting. And then it will be time to find out what they will need to feel safe enough to back off and cut me some slack.

The beauty of it is, even before they’ve started giving me breathing room, I feel better.

Now when if I have an over-reaction to the things I no longer want to do, I’ll know what it’s about. And I’ll know why it’s so hard to recover and get cracking.

Reaching that point of not beating myself up or asking myself why why why for not doing the things I want to do is a huge step toward changing the pattern.

Hedgehogs, Dancers and What Ifs

Some of you may be aware that I am getting ready to make some major changes to my website.

I’m a coach, and it’s time for my website to let people know that.

The copy is ready to go, and I was almost at the point of deeming the new design “done”. I use the term design loosely, because I did it myself, and I haven’t quite mastered the process of transferring the beautiful ideas that are in my head into a WordPress theme.

Suddenly I realized, though, that I’ve been tweaking and obsessing about the website for over two weeks now. And still not happy with it, in spite of the fact that I had shown multiple people and all of them had really positive things to say about what I’d put together.

I was stuck in a catch-22 of wanting to update my website before launching the new copy, but being incapable of getting the website to look “good enough”.

With the help of some friends, I was able to see (finally!) that I was entering freak-out mode and no amount of asking myself, “But what should I doooooo?” over and over was going to get me an answer.

I was too wrapped up in it.

I was imposing outside limitations on the whole thing.

I have to do it this way.
I have to launch by this date.
If I don’t launch soon, I am a failure.

At that point, there was surely no harm in stepping away from it, because not-stepping-away from it wasn’t getting me anywhere.

Stepping away to find some clarity

After much Dance of Shiva and meditation, it became clear that this had nothing to do with how my website looked.

This was classic biggification stuckness.

As in, ohmygod people will see me and they will know that I am a coach. I don’t want to be seen.

And that fear of being seen had become so big that I had almost completely lost touch with the fact that I do want to launch my website.

Getting support

I needed support, so I started the process by giving support to myself.

By releasing myself from my expectations around having a kick-ass website to start.

And letting go of any self-imposed deadlines for when I must go live.

More Dance of Shiva and more journaling – this time attempting to talk to my blocks.

I also decided to work on it with Hiro Boga.

Enter the Me’s

I learned about two of my Me’s. You know, the parts of me that make up my total Me. Or something like that.

One of them I’ve named Hedgehog Girl. For the other, I haven’t found the perfect name yet, but for now we’ll call her Dancing Girl.

Hedgehog Girl

She’s small.

And stubborn.

And very protective of herself (and me).

And when she doesn’t like what’s happening around her, she curls into a ball like a hedgehog and won’t budge.

Dancing Girl

Also small. (Not sure why a lot of my Me’s seem to be children…maybe it’s related to this comment on Communicatrix’s website?)

Extremely playful.

Utterly oblivious to any possibility that something could go wrong.

Loves to dance and run around. (You know the kind of dance I’m talking about – one that looks crazy, but makes you want to join in, if only you could just stop worrying about what other people think.)

Loves to be seen.

But she had been banished to a corner.

When Me’s don’t play nice

Even though I’ve got Dancing Girl, who is completely excited to launch and can’t wait for everyone to see the new website, she was in a corner.

Her being in the corner, to some degree, was the result of Hedgehog Girl, who was not at all happy about the idea of doing much of anything in public.

So I asked her, “What are you afraid of?”

Her answer was, “Change.” And a list of What Ifs.

What Hedgehog Girl needed was reassurance. And to know that she would be protected.

Answering the What Ifs

During my session with Hiro, I explained to Hedgehog Girl that even though launching and being visible is hard and uncomfortable, it’s even more uncomfortable for me to stay blocked and not launch.

And we set up a place for us to go if things got too scary.

Because, at the core of it, she needed to know that if moving forward gets too painful, we wouldn’t have to continue on. She needed to know that there would be an escape hatch if she needed it.

But what if I don’t have a Hedgehog Girl?

It doesn’t matter if you have a Hedgehog Girl or an Ostrich Boy or maybe you don’t even subscribe to the idea of having multiple Me’s…er…You’s and that you can talk to them.

When there is something we want to do, but we’re afraid and we resist and get stuck, underneath it all there are unmet needs.

Some part of us takes up the role of Protector, and puts up a block until those needs are met.

The fear or block doesn’t define us. We are not it and it isn’t us.

The block is simply some need that hasn’t been addressed. It’s a question – often starting with “what if” – that needs an answer.

What if it’s too hard?
What if nobody shows up?
What if too many people show up?
What if it’s not like I thought it would be?

But we can acknowledge the fear, and ask ourselves what the true need is.

And when we listen for the need, we can work toward meeting it.

Sweetie, if it’s too hard, we can do something else instead.
If it’s not what we thought, we can make a new plan.
We won’t be locked in to any of it.

Now, my friends, it’s time for me to go finish getting ready to launch a website.

Dancing Girl can’t wait for you to see it. Hedgehog Girl is taking things a bit more cautiously, but at least she’s willing to come along for the ride now.

More on Fears (Not Moron Fears)

See what I did there? It’s a pun.

I can’t help it…anytime I hear the phrase “more on” I think of “moron.”

Moving on.

A partner in crime just-starting-a-blog, Diane Whiddon-Brown, wrote about starting her blog in spite of her fears and it reminded me of a book I (re-)read recently.

Here’s Diane:

Every day I work on it. Every day I write. And every day I get a little closer, if not to publication, then at least to self-acceptance.

I notice two things in that passage:

1. “Every day I work on it.”

Diane is *working on* her writing, not expecting to wake up having mastered it.

2. “…closer, if not to publication…”

She plans to continue to write even if publication doesn’t happen as soon as she hopes.

These ideas echo The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Have you read it?

He talks about how Resistance keeps us from doing the thing we want to do. And the main remedy for that is to work at your Art. Every. Day. In fact, he refers to it as “turning pro.”

The catch is that turning pro involves doing your work for the love of the Art – it’s something in you that has to come out even if nobody’s buying.

If you work on your Art the way a professional writer, or painter, or musician does, Resistance won’t get the best of you.

But where does Resistance get its power? Fear.

Not just any fear. In fact, I’ve had to rethink my first post just a bit, because Pressfield states that those fears are…

…serious fears. But they’re not the real fear. Not the Master Fear, the Mother of all Fears that’s so close to us that even when we verbalize it we don’t believe it.

Fear That We Will Succeed.

That we can access the powers we secretly know we possess.

That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are.

This is the most terrifying prospect a human being can face, because it ejects him at one go (he imagines) from all the tribal inclusions his psyche is wired for and has been for fifty million years.

Let that sink in a little.

I’ve heard it before, that people aren’t truly afraid of failure, they’re afraid of success. But this is the first time anyone has explained it in a way that made sense to me and could penetrate the outer crust of my brain.

It’s that desire for “tribal inclusions” that gets us. (Hello, Fear of What People Will Think.)

But Pressfield goes on to remind us that even if we do get rejected by one group of friends (or family), there are other, new friends waiting for us.

Case in point, my stepping out on the ledge to start blogging (both pre- and post-publication) has put me in contact with so many amazing new people.

So in this last post of 2008, my wish for all of us is that we can find the courage to turn pro, sit down and work on our Art every day. No matter what flavor of artist we are.

Happy New Year, everybody. Stay safe, have fun, and make it a good one.  See you next year!

Invisible Creative Productivity

So I did it, right? I’m a blogger now? All the posts and topics will be easy from here on out?

Hahahaha…The reality is that the floodgates haven’t opened with tons of beautiful, helpful material as fast as my fingers could type it.

But that is okay. Or at least I’m trying to be okay with it.

Despite my toiling to come up with more posts, there is a “creative process” that is happening. My friend, Hiro Boga, has written beautifully about this in her new blog.

I hope you’ll all read it in its entirety, but here is a snippet:

On the surface, my life in this time of gestation–before the next creation emerges–looks ordinary enough…

But underneath this seemingly boring surface I can feel the engine of my life revving up . . .  brrmm, brrrmmmmmm . . . Thrumming with a finely pitched pulse.

Until the moment when it reaches lift-off.

Ah yes…it’s so important to know that there are things happening beneath the surface. Because so often it doesn’t look – or even feel – that way.

I should know…it’s been three years since I first had the desire to start a blog.  And there were other attempts that went nowhere. And don’t even get me started on some of the other projects (which shall remain nameless – for now) that I wanted to do that never got off the ground.

Yet, here I am – posting to my blog.

My point is that for a long time it felt like I would NEVER do this blog thing. That I’d never get past my fears (not over them – just past them) to start doing the thing.

And it wasn’t until I took that first “public” step that I could look back and see that all the frustration and struggling served a purpose. Even if I can’t explain why, I know it was what I needed in order to get from there to here.

It may or may not always be hard like this.

I don’t know if I can even generalize that this IS my creative process, because frankly, this is my first creative venture in quite some time. Maybe I don’t even know what my process is anymore.

Here are some ideas that have helped me get through this.  Maybe they will help you to give birth to something creative.

1. Above all else, cut yourself slack as much as you’re able.

Beating yourself up for not doing something tends to kill any spark of creativity.

I’d wanted to start a blog for years and all my stomping and tearing my hair out didn’t get it going. I really believe it was the process of backing off from the goal that allowed it to come into being.

Are you allowed to be pissed and throw tantrums? Of course. The paradox is that you also need to cut yourself slack for not being able to cut yourself slack.

2. Ideas take time to gestate (as Hiro put it, above). Or, we don’t control the timing.

I believe there was a combination of things (call them lessons that I had to learn) that needed to be in place before the blog could come into existence. Sometimes we have control over when those things happen, but often we don’t.  And believe me, tantrums don’t serve as a shortcut.

The project – whatever it may be – will be born when it’s ready.

3. Banish all expectations about the outcome.

Whenever I think about a potential project in terms of how it will look when it’s finished, I’m setting myself up for failure.

A year ago when I thought about starting a blog, I would think about having a huge list of subscribers or daily awe-inspiring posts and it instantly created a scenario I couldn’t live up to. So I didn’t even try.

Instead of defining the success of this project in terms of readership or alexa ranking, I’m working toward defining it in terms of “Hey, I did the thing I thought I couldn’t do.” Or “I still started this thing even though I might fall on my face.”

What does this all come back to? TRUST.

Trust. Trust. Trust.

Trust in the creative process.

Trust that the process is happening even if we can’t feel it or see it.

Trust that it will bear fruit in its own time.

Trust that – no matter who is (or is not) looking at the output – it has value and should be honored.

Dear Fears

Dear Fears,

Hello. Yes, I see you. Lots of you here again.

Let me get my Romper Room mirror. Hi, Fear of Being Googled, and Fear of Having Nothing to Say. Oh, and back there I see Fear of Saying the Wrong Thing and Fear of Looking Like a Dork.

And is that Fear of What People Will Think? Why, yes, it is.

We need to talk.

After Havi’s Screw Therapy Start Blogging course, I’ve learned a couple of things. For one, I’m not the only one you guys are hanging around, leaving me with mixed feelings of relief and disappointment to learn that I’m not your special friend.

But more importantly, I’ve been putting this off for, like, THREE YEARS, and apparently I’m just going to have to work around you, because damned if I am going to let another three years – or even three months – go by without STARTING.

No practice posts, no learning CSS and PHP first so that I can design my own blog from scratch, no figuring out a clever URL or tagline to use before I write a post.

For once I’ve got to do the thing I’m afraid to do so that I can stop regretting not doing it.

Stay if you must, but I will still blog.

Love,
Victoria