Overcoming Fear

Writing my own story

Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame has written a new book about the power of telling stories. I stumbled across his video on the Big Think (below), talking about how to use your story to connect with others.

 

It’s a great video, and he got me thinking about my own story. What are the obstacles in my life that I’ve overcome? Furthermore, what are the obstacles I have yet to overcome that would make a great story?

Currently, I’m struggling with indecision, self-doubt, and fear. These things get in the way of me living my dream life. So I have a choice. Do I let my story turn out to sound something like this: “These were the obstacles and here’s how I overcame them” or something like this: “These were the obstacles and that’s why I didn’t succeed.”

So often we do the latter. We don’t look at our obstacles at detours but as reasons why the road ends there. In writing the story of my life, do I want it to end up that way? Heck no! That just sounds so pathetic in hindsight.

I want to use this technique of seeing my life as a story to be told to help me write it out the way I want it. I want to tell the story of how I pushed through indecision, self-doubt and fear to become successful. In the story of my life, I want to see myself victorious.

What will be the story of your life?

Control Freak

Yesterday I told you a few stories about how I brazenly fight wild dogs, and we ended with the conclusion that I don’t like when I’m not in control of everything.

In my worst recurring dream, I’m trying to talk, but no one listens. Man, my life is good! The thing that wakes you up at night is that people don’t listen to you? People don’t care? #firstworldproblems #scratchthat #whitemiddleclassgirlwithacollegedegreefirstworldproblems #done

I don’t appear to be a control freak on the surface. Sure, I’m good at finding grammatical errors and coming up with cleaning schedules. But I always feel like the month is two weeks too short and I forget birthdays like nobody’s business. I haven’t sent out Mother’s Day cards (which was 4 weeks ago, and CRAP I have one week until Father’s Day. I had it on my to-do list to buy cards last Sunday, and now it’s Friday….and oh bother, I don’t even know where the to-do list is.)

Holy cow, the power of writing things down: I just realized from writing that last paragraph, that the reason I am such a control freak is because I don’t have my stuff together and I always feel like I’m failing at life.

So, maybe if I stuck to my cleaning schedule and made an effort to send cards early, I wouldn’t always feel like the month was two weeks short.

Which brings me to tomorrow’s topic: The hard thing in the moment is the easy thing in the long run and the easy thing in the moment is the hard thing in the long run. Advice that is so true, but I hate to hear (because then I actually have to follow through.)

See ya tomorrow!

Why am I so afraid?

Yesterday we talked about how writing on this blog scares the bejeebus out of me. My logical side knows it doesn’t make sense, but try telling that to my emotional side.

So, to understand why I am so stinkin’ afraid of ERRVERYTHING, we have to go back aways.

When I was a teenager, I was bold. Brazen. The kind of girl that is marching to the beat of her own drummer. I didn’t get bullied because I was outspoken. I was content and confident with who I was.

I can’t pinpoint when the fear started to creep in, but it was definitely prevalent when my son was born. We lived in a neighborhood where dogs were left outside All. The. Time. Is it negative 20 degrees and snowing? Doesn’t matter, dogs are outside. These dogs would walk over an inch deep layer of their own dried out feces. Their basic needs of food and water were covered, but the needs for shelter and love were not.

As a result, these dogs were pissed. And aggressive.

On a few walks through the neighborhood with my newborn son strapped to my chest, loose dogs wandering around would see me from blocks away and come darting at top speed towards me. Sometimes they were friendly — albeit overly nosey. But other times they would bark, sneer, growl and follow me about 10 feet behind until I left “their territory.”

It was scary. On one instance, two dogs came bolting across the street when I was pushing my son in his stroller. (I had already had an altercation with these two dogs where I yelled “NO!” and they stopped before running halfway across the road.) The one was super friendly…but the other was aggressive. He bared his teeth, growled at me, and tried to run around to the other side of the stroller.

I spun the stroller around, always putting myself in between the stroller and the dog. With my most authoritative voice, I screamed something like “No! Back off!” The dog continued to pursue the stroller. Spinning, I screamed again. The dog continued.

At this point, I’m starting to lose it. I move myself and the stroller into the street (residential 25mph, with long range visibility) hoping that cars will stop and help me or that the cars will scare away the dogs. I’m screaming and almost on the verge of having a mental breakdown because this dog will just not leave us alone.

I start to consider what I can do to fight the dog, maybe I even picked up a stick to contemplate how to beat this dog.

Let me take a moment to clarify that I’m not straight up scared of all dogs. (We have two slobbery, furry and loving dogs who are always excited when I come home and find simple household chores fascinating. It’s awesome.)

So the thought of hitting, kicking, beating a dog?!? This is literally my worst nightmare. How can I hurt a dog? What will my family think? Will I go to jail? What diseases will I get if I get bit? But if I don’t fight back…he could kill my baby. Literally, it is not hard for a dog to kill a human baby, even when the dog is seen as non-agressive.

Anticlimactic as many stories in life are, I eventually spun far enough away from “their” house that they gave up, got bored and ran back home.

What I am afraid of is a situation where I lose control. (Maybe that’s a subject for a whole nother blog post.) I don’t like not being able to control what happens in my life and not knowing what will happen.

So, let’s cut it here and tomorrow we’ll talk about control issues.

Boatload of fear

I set a “goal” to blog every day. For two weeks, I kept up my promise but slowly teetered off. Why?

A whole big hunkin load of fear.

That’s it. It’s not lack of content: I have plenty of knowledge in this head of mine that would be helpful to share. It’s not lack of time: I’ve kept myself busy watching hours of TV every day.Plain and simple, I’m scared.

Plain and simple, I’m scared.

I’m scared you will judge me. I’m scared I’ll say something that offends someone. I’m scared someone will sue me. I’m scared someone will stalk me. I’m scared you’ll write me off as a housewife with too much time on her hands.

Need more reasons? Okay:

I’m scared I’m wasting my life. I’m scared this will be another thing I fail at. I’m scared this will be another thing I lose interest in after a few days/weeks/months. I’m scared I’ll lose interest yet persevere, thus coming to resent and dread the blog and waste my precious time on this Earth. I’m scared the blog will consume me like my other entrepreneurial pursuits where I don’t make money but I sacrifice time with my family.

This boat is sinking with all the fear inside of it.

The problem is that these are just the fears that pertain to my blog. I also have fears about being in my house (spiders and worms lurk around every corner — or so I think), fears about leaving my house (it’s too hot, too cold, my toddler might throw a tantrum, he might be hungry, he might be thirsty). I have fears about starting a business but missing out on my young son’s childhood. I have fears that I won’t start a business and instead regret my life of stay at home mom-ery.

How did I get this way? Why am I so afraid of EVERYTHING? That’s a perfect topic for tomorrow!

That’s a perfect topic for tomorrow! Hope you all are having a great June so far. It’s in the 80s here and I’m already melting. How am I going to manage 100 degree and 98% humidity?!

The two sides of fear

Recently, a friend made this profound observation, which I’d love to share with you. She said that there are two types of fear: the fear of failure and the fear of success.

This is brilliant! I had never thought of it that way before in such clear terms. I’ve recently started to discover how much fear controls my life, but I still hadn’t defined fear in this way.

There are two types of fear: the fear of failure and the fear of success.

Fear of failure is obvious. We’re afraid we’ll lose our life savings, let down our family, or make a fool of ourselves. We chide ourselves for our small failures (forgetting someone’s birthday, burning dinner or showing up late to our kid’s concert).

Many of us are relentless when it comes to big failures. We spend years or decades regretting a decision we made or a decision we wish we’d made. I’ve spent the last four years diving into the details of my failed business, which is insane considering I ran the business for only three years. I know I should let it go, but that is incredibly hard to do.

So, what is this about the fear of success? Nobody fears success, right? Well, this concept is a little more subtle. It doesn’t sour your morning cup of coffee or berate you after a long day.

The fear of success comes in the form of excuses.

Ah, excuses. “If I book the speaking tour of my dreams, what will I do about childcare?” “If my book sells a lot of copies, I’ll have to talk to a lot of people. I’m an introvert, so I would hate that.” These are real excuses I have told myself. “If I book too many clients, I’ll never see my family.” I could go on and on.

The fear of success may not show up as a fear, but as reasonable, logical reasons to forgo our dreams. Of course it seems logical that I want to spend time with my family. Of course it’s reasonable that being extroverted might wear me out. But why not try?

Why not test the waters and see if I like it? If I come to a point where I’m selling so many books that I never see my family and am emotionally drained from talking all day, then I can reassess. But maybe just maybe, I’ll love it. Maybe I’ll love hearing people’s inspiring stories of how the book changed their life. Maybe I’ll be more intentional about the time I spend with my family and the quality will outweigh the quantity.

The point is to not let either of these fears bring you down. They may seem logical on the surface, but if you dig into them, they disintegrate into dust.

Do you suffer from the fear of failure or the fear of success? Or are you like me, and you suffer from both? I’d love to hear!

Idea source: Thank you, Ayeh, for your awesome idea and for letting me write about it! If you are looking for an Eden Prairie, Minnesota real estate agent, I’d highly recommend Ayeh Asiaii: https://www.facebook.com/ayehrealtor/ She’s smart, caring, and detail-oriented. We’ve been friends for years, and I’m proud of her for not letting her fears get in the way of achieving her dreams.

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/beautiful-bloom-blooming-blossom-371433/

At a crossroads

It seems that blog posts about overcoming fear may be an ongoing thing around here. I’m at a crossroads between career and childcare. For those of you who don’t know, I recently trained as a Postpartum Doula, and I’m eager to get my business up and running.

I started looking at childcare offered in my area, but immediately fear has taken hold. The fear is that I will end up paying for childcare but not book enough clients to make it worth it. But of course, going to small business classes and receiving mentoring is much easier to do without a toddler in tow.

So, the question is: do I take the leap of faith and pay for childcare now? Or do I do as much work as I can during hours when my husband can watch our son and forgo paid childcare? Or do I go hide under a rock and cry?

The last scenario is tempting, the second one sounds reasonable and the first one is absolutely terrifying.

I think this fear stems back to my first business venture as a wedding photographer. That business consumed my every waking hour for three years. While I had some amazing clients, the business never grew as much as I anticipated. In the end, we moved to a new town, and I didn’t have the energy to start over again.

This failure has plagued me the last few years. I am terrified that I will fail as a Postpartum Doula. I have entertained several business ideas in the past few years. While I do much research and prep work, I give up when it comes to taking action.

I’ll spend the next couple of days weighing my pros and cons and hopefully I decide to take the plunge.

Is there a fear in your life you’d like to move past? What is stopping you?

 

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/signs-sky-clouds-mountain-94258/

Opening Pandora’s Box of self-awareness

Over the last few months, I’ve become keenly aware of my nonsensical fears. I fear spiders, social situations and doing things outside of my comfort zone. And the more I feed the fears, the bigger they become.

Like Pandora’s Box of self-awareness, the fears come rushing to the forefront, and the act of noticing my fears grows exponentially. Before this self-awareness journey, I had no idea how many times fear was/is keeping me back. In a bittersweet taste of irony, the more I become aware of my fears, the more I feel afraid. To state that another way:

I felt less afraid when I was less aware of my fears.

I am more afraid now because pushing past my fears is much scarier than staying in the comfort of perceived security.

Imagine you’re driving down the street on the way to a friend’s BBQ. You’re excited warm weather is finally here and can’t wait to catch up with old friends. Just as the light turns green, you notice a dog wandering aimlessly down the sidewalk, coming dangerously close to traffic. Do you stop? What if it was a small child? Stopping would entail potential harm to yourself if you had to stop traffic, plus there’s the time spent to report the dog to animal control or the child to the police. The time and energy spent could make you late to the BBQ or even make you miss it.

In some cases, you may wish in the back of your mind that you hadn’t noticed and could’ve continued on with your life. It can feel safe and comforting to do the easy thing and walk away. But for many of us, we just wouldn’t be able to walk away. Despite our fear of what might happen, we would feel like terrible human beings for walking away.

That’s how this Pandora’s Box of self-awareness is for me. Noticing the countless times per day I limit myself because of fear is exhausting. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone is pretty much the last thing I want to do, and yet, I am aware of it now; I must do it.

Are there any fears you are working to overcome?

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/silhouette-man-person-stars-12567/