Today I was talking to a friend about Fear.
It’s a sneaky little bitch, Fear, you see. The issue with it is that I keep forgetting that it’s there. And it’s there for good.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a primal human emotion that’s there to keep us safe…when we are in danger, when our safety is threatened.
Unfortunately, for some of us (read: ME), the brain struggles to properly assess its environment sometimes. Am I safe? Or am I in danger? Chalk it up to fucked up DNA, to a history of trauma, or to our overly stimulated environment. Whatever the cause, my brain tends to..let us say…overreact..and as a result, causes me to do, or NOT do, many things.
The journey of an entrepreneur is not meant for the faint of heart. Every day is a new wave of the rollercoaster. You’re up, you’re down, you’re further down, you’re way up. It’s fucking exhausting. The major highs and major lows are not just overwhelming, but also leave me extremely vulnerable to Fear’s attack. Typically, we just consider the major lows as vulnerable places, but for me, the opposite can be just as dangerous. What I’ve concluded from my experience, thus far, is that depression and excitement are two sides of the same coin. Now, for the contrarian who may be reading this and want to argue with me, I’d like to point out, for the sake of this post, that I am defining depression as an extreme low and excitement as an extreme high. So this is not to say that every time I feel a little down or a little delight I am in danger of losing my stability. No, this is just to say that going too far in either direction, for me, means I have probably lost my footing.
So, how do I counteract this? It’s simple, I have to continue to do my best to keep my feet on the ground–I have to stay grounded.
Lately, I have found myself falling deeper into a depressive slump, and it’s the sort of thing you don’t really see happening until one day you’re running out on a beautiful, scenic trail, on a gorgeous day with your dog and your boyfriend and you realize you’re not even there. Where are you? You’re off in the land of Fear, thinking about all the things you have to do, all the things you have failed to do, how could you possibly think you could do this to begin with, who the hell do you think you are anyway? and you should just stop now before it’s too late and go back to a 9-5 job with financial security and health insurance. Woah. And there it is, you’re in the spiral. You’ve lost touch with your reality (which to the neutral observer, looks pretty damn great). Now you’ve got to dig your way out and this is when you realize how far down you’ve really let yourself slip.
You haven’t been meditating, you haven’t been praying, you haven’t been journaling, you haven’t been taking action. You’ve been living in Fear. Frozen. Immobile. Hiding from your bank account which is now in overdraft and pretending it’s not real. You’ve gotten really, really good at rationalizing why you’ve been putting off taking the exact action that will dig you out of this hole, with what your therapist calls “prerequisites“. These are tasks you’ve decided to front-load onto the action you needed to take weeks ago to start making some money and taking on new clients. Who says these tasks MUST get done before you do this one simple thing? You do. Your Fear brain says you’re only going to be worth this fee once you’ve done X, Y, and Z. Prerequisites, she says, you’ve got a lot of those.
And the most insane part of it is, you actually BELIEVED this lie for the last two months. This lie you’ve been feeding yourself, spun from the Dark Place, is coming from a place of lack, of scarcity. You’re not allowed to do this unless you do this first, and this and this and this. Only then, will you be worth it.
Enough crazy talk, it’s time to snap the fuck out of it. Like I said earlier, Fear isn’t going ANYWHERE. So fuck the prerequisites and take that leap you’ve been convincing yourself you’re not yet ready to take. Why not? Who says? The lies in your head? The haters who don’t understand? Nah. Fuck that. We owe it to ourselves to protect our dreams from the haters whether they’re real people or lies living in our heads. I’ve been sitting on my hands for the last eight weeks letting made up stories deny me action because I lost my footing and slipped a little bit too far down. I’ve been allowing myself to live in the old idea that my worth must be proven first or that I must earn the right to take action.
Well, it’s all bullshit. I don’t owe that proof to anyone, because when I take action out of that place of integrity, that place of trust–that’s when my value speaks for itself.
So, what is it you’ve been telling yourself you don’t YET deserve? That trip to Paris? Those fancy shoes? That family photo session? Quitting your job? That vacation? Investing in a proper website for your business?
Whatever prerequisites you’ve made up for yourself, stop. They’re lies. I promise, no matter how hard your Fear brain has worked to make you believe they’re necessary, they’re not. Just shut that voice up and do it anyway. Do it afraid, like Jacky and Holli say, because you’re wasting precious time and the chance at an invaluable experience. I’ve got a friend who quit her job and moved to New Zealand for a year because she could. I’ve got another couple of friends who launched their business successfully for a year without a website at all. Do what your heart is calling you to do WITH the fear in you because the freedom you receive from that leap is exhilarating.
Fear has its place in my life, but right now it’s on overdrive and I’ve got to wade through it. I’m not in danger, I’m not being threatened. Do I know what comes next? Nope. Do I ever actually know that, though? Nope.
Whatever I feed is what will grow.
I think Fear has had enough of my energy, time, and mental space. It’s time to feed my heart, my dreams, and my soul. It’s time to live in today.
Will you be feeding Fear? Or will you be taking steps toward Freedom?