photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash
Note to reader: There’s not a heck of a lot new here. Just having some fun- doing it anyway! – in spite of fear trying to tell me this is too silly. In fact, it’s a good reminder of what usually gets in your way especially when “change” is standing in the wings. It’s also a big factor in why you’re not writing that book, or moving ahead on your creative project!! Whatever’s holding you back, I can help. Contact me to see how. It’s what I love to do. Please read on…
I recently had the chance to sit down with my old nemesis, Fear. It was early morning; his guard was down. There he was, relaxing in the back of my head readying what he calls his daily alerts. I call them salvos. (Yes, it’s a “he”. Not sure why but that’s how he showed up!) What follows has been edited for brevity and clarity (as well as to delete some expletives.)
KK: Good morning, Fear. Glad I caught you before you started your busy day. You know, you wreak a lot of havoc in my life. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. Sure, some of it’s necessary but most of it isn’t. I wonder how you would you describe your role in our everyday – and professional – lives?
Fear: Ah, I am a big deal, aren’t I? <a cocky smile on his face> My basic function is to keep you safe. Some people say it’s your ego trying to do that. I say, ego – schmego. That’s my job. I create the tension, the drama; I keep you on high alert. Makes you feel alive, doesn’t it! I get your adrenaline pumping!
K: You certainly do. And frankly, I could do without it at this point of my life. Life’s too short for your nonsense! Any time I decide to move out of my comfort zone you kick in with your opinion. When I want to try something new you say ooh, what if someone doesn’t like this! What if you stink at this! You’re such an imposter!
You stop me in my tracks. And off I go – procrastination, second guessing, cleaning toilets…
F: You’re welcome. That’s one sparkling toilet you have!
K: …feeling overwhelmed. I can try to ignore you but that doesn’t always work. Because you’re also quite crafty. Half the time I don’t even realize it’s you sending me to graze in front of the refrigerator or go down an online rabbit hole.
F: I’m good, huh! By the way do you have any more of this Irish tea?
K: Let’s cut to the chase here. I’ve got the street crossing and hot stove thing down. I know it’s not wise to go hiking alone in the deep woods. Blah, blah, blah. But it’s the other stuff. For all of us. Writing a book, career changes, growing a business, new relationships. Maybe going back to school. Any creative pursuit, really. As soon as any of us wants to try something new, there you are with your “what-ifs”. Safety-schmafety! I, for one, am tired of being safe! You say Ego-schmego. I say you two are in cahoots. How about you guys duke it out while I go do something new!
F: Ok, ok, take it easy. It’s not always me you know. Try looking at things from a different perspective. Just because you’re dithering over something, not getting to it, doesn’t mean it’s me.
K: What do you mean? Who else could it be?
F: Did it ever occur to you that I’m not to blame for everything? That maybe, just maybe, whatever it is that you’re avoiding isn’t what’s best for you? It might look like I’m sticking my nose in – you, know the avoidance, the self-sabotage, the toilet cleaning – but it could actually be that in your heart of hearts, you know it’s not for you.
K: <snort> Right. Sure. Make excuses. You’re waking up now…
F: It could be that your gut brain that knows on a deeper level that you don’t want that job – it’s not for you. You don’t want to move – here is better than there. That you don’t want to take on that project or partnership and so on. You have so much intelligence in you that you might be missing because you can’t hear it. Okay, I know I’m loud. It could be getting drowned out. I’m just trying to get your attention.
K: So, it could still be you, right?
F: Sure. But what I’m telling you to do is to listen to your heart, first. Pause. Listen. And then do what’s best for you. Because if you’re listening to your heart, you are safe. You are being a loving steward of your dreams. Ugh! Listen to me! I can’t believe I’m saying these things. If you tell anyone…
K: But what if my heart’s telling me to connect with that person, to write that book, to go back to school. And, in spite of this I’m still cleaning my toilet?
F: Well, yeah, that’s on me. Here’s what you do. Um… Well…
K: What are you looking around for?
F: It’s only us, right? I wouldn’t want any of my fellow fear masters to hear me. We’re unionized, you know. I’ve got a lot to lose if I’m seen as a calming influence. Pension, benefits, the whole megillah. But listen. If your heart is telling you to do this thing then you must do it. You must or all this wonder and possibility will die with you. That is the greatest tragedy. And you know how to do it. You know how to sneak past me and my pal, amygdala. Small steps, small questions. Listen first and then take a step. You don’t need to know the whole way when you start. Just start!
K: I know. I know.
F: I’ll still be around you know. But at this point it feels like we’re buddies, doesn’t it? So go do your thing. Claim that dream. Just say hi once in a while. I’ll do the same. I’m just telling you to pay attention. I’m telling you to ignore the shoulds, stop trying to please everyone. Remember I’m only here as an alert.
K: Ha-ha! Like those stupid weather alerts that tell me it’s raining. Like I can’t look out the window!
F: Yeah, like that. Remember, I never said don’t do it. I only said what if…
K: And that’s where the trouble starts…
F: Hey, I’m not the boss of you. That beautiful heart is the boss. I wouldn’t mess with it. It’s got a lot of power. I clear out when she gets going. Whoa! There’s no stopping her. But you and me? We’re here for the long run. So, buckle up!