It’s scary how easy it can be to avoid fear.
I feel like a master:
- In my 20s, I avoided having “the talk” with the man I’d been dating for years.
- I usually wait until the very last minute to do my taxes because they’re complicated and scary and force you to look at how much money you’ve made (or haven’t, or owe).
- I almost didn’t publish my last post because when I first drafted it, I wasn’t sure if it was coherent.
- I’ve been procrastinating on writing my first book.
I’m sure I could think of more examples if I wanted to. There are some things that just seem easier to avoid.
I’m also sure that I’m not alone in this.
Underlying all these is the fear that things won’t turn out as hoped:
- (In my 20s:) What if he doesn’t want to marry me?
- What if I didn’t make that much money or owe a lot?
- What if the post is in fact incoherent?
- What if the book sucks?
Knowing this, the question then becomes: Is it better not to know how things turn out?
I feel like the answer is no. Actually, I know for sure that the answer is no. So why is it sometimes hard to remember that?
In a way, fear is a gift. Fear is showing us the path that best serves our own evolution. Facing it provides the greatest potential for personal growth.
Not to go down that path would be a disservice to ourselves . . . and the world. It would prevent us from becoming the most courageous and capable version of ourselves.
Plus, magic tends to happen when you face the thing that scares you the most.
Case in point(s):
- When I was 29, I asked my boyfriend of nine years if he was ever planning to marry me. (We didn’t get married, but not for the reasons I’d been worried about.) That conversation led to our breakup, which was brutal but gave me more time to myself, which led to me getting into yoga, which led to many other changes in my life and career, and ultimately got me to where I am now: Grateful for it all – even the shitty parts. Especially the shitty parts. They’re amazing fuel for growth. (Being able to appreciate painful life experiences? That’s pretty magical, right there.)
- This year I did my taxes in March instead of June, when I usually do them and when they’re due. I gained 3 months of life that I don’t have to think about them. Being proactive is making me feel more empowered financially and excited about making money for the first time in years.
- Last week, I published that blog post. With that single, simple action, I got back into the flow of writing, sharing my work, trusting that it’s good enough… So much so that I published another one this week!
- I’m committed to finish my first book this year. To alleviate my concerns, I’ve given myself permission to let the book be whatever it needs to be, even if it sucks. (I realize this may seem odd, but really, it’s more important that I get it done and face the fear that it might suck. And obviously I’ll do whatever is in my power to make it not suck.) I can’t say yet what the magic here will be, but I have no doubt it’s coming.
Facing your fears clears energetic clutter. Instead of leaving things hanging in a state of not knowing or indecision, we actively take steps to see how they turn out.
And in the process, we become the person capable of dealing with whatever comes up (hello, trustworthy future self!).
The first step is to notice the fear, which can be a challenge in and of itself. After that, we have a choice: try to avoid it, run away from it, pretend it isn’t there . . . or do something about it and come out stronger for it on the other side.
What fears are you ready to face?