“Fear Overcoming” (12×12 matted print) ~ 2012
When you are facing a new experience do you have big fear?
Maybe there’s crippling anxiety that washes over you when you think about doing something differently.
I will be honest and say that at times I feel great frustration when someone I know refuses to take risks or even show up for things because of fear. It’s that classic thought pattern of “you just gotta bite the bullet and be brave” , even though I know that we’re all wired differently. Every person has his or her own circumstance and past experiences that shape the fears that create blockades. I’ve had to lecture myself about the fact that not everyone is willing to just jump in to the pool like I am. Believe me, I’ve made enough mistakes to bring on debilitating fear, but for some reason I have learned to shake off the worry of looking stupid or ill-prepared (two things I have mastered well in several careers in my life), and just get on with it. Some of it has been extremely painful, but the rewards have been worth it.
For women, in particular, there seem to be a few categories of fear. A Def Con 1-5 type of thing:
There are fears that crop up like clock-work (speaking in front of groups, airplane trips, dentist visits, high places, etc). There are lots of exercises that can help folks going into these situations, as they are not every day things. I know two people who can now fly and go to the dentist because they took action with behavioral therapists.
There are several diagnosis categories of anxiety that can crop up anywhere in life. Chemical imbalances or problems with postpartum come to mind…possibly even debilitating fear that can tear up a life and family. I’m not delving into these today because I’ve never been to medical school (nor do I play one on TV). These need attention by a trained professional—I have women in my life who are not facing the fact that they need professional help in this area. It’s not a weakness! It’s a condition that requires attention. I believe a person is strong and brave when they can ask for this kind of help. Enough said on this.
Then there is FEAR OF FAILURE, an unnecessary fear of falling on your face in the wake of a new experience. The “I’m not good enough” or “I have no idea what I’m doing” voices that ring high pitched in the ears. This is the fear I’d like to talk about in this post because I believe there are a wholelotta women out there paralyzed in their lives because they are afraid they don’t have what it takes…either that, or they are afraid of success, which is a whole different matter we’ll talk about later.
What are the dreams that God has placed on your heart that just won’t go away?
Do you want to open your own business? Travel to an exotic location (alone!)? Train for a triathlon? Publish that novel? Submit art to a magazine? Try out for a local production?
Or maybe it’s bigger in scope…
Leaving a toxic relationship (maybe even a destructive marriage), going back to college, adopting a baby, moving to a new place, or letting go a group of friends you know are not right for you.
Let’s open up the toolbox…there seven gems to help us make the leap:
If it’s not a YES, it’s a NO.
One of my favorite wise women, Elizabeth MacCrellish (creator of Squam Art Workshops), said this recently in this podcast that I heard. I loved it and had to stop to write it down on a leaf while I was jogging (yes, I keep a pencil in my back pocket when I run). The principle is that if you’re hemming and hawing about something…can’t make up your mind to start that painting class or enroll in book writing 101 or even pick up a book about owning your own business, it might be a “no”. Is it possible you are choosing this path because you feel you should? Or someone expects this of you? Or is it truly a passion…a burning desire that keeps you up at night. The “yes” is there, but the plan is not. AND THAT’S OKAY. If it truly is a giant, big ‘ole pink elephant that follows you around, the plan will come if you devote yourself to it.
Ask yourself: ”If fear was eliminated, would it be a yes?”
Take a deep breath and commit yourself to “micro-movements” (a term from a writer named SARK), which are small steps to getting closer to doing this thing that just might make you deliriously happy. For example, if traveling is something you really want to do, go to the libary and peruse the books in the travel section, putting together a list of your top destinations. It’s a small movement towards the goal, but gets you in the right frame of mind.
168 hours…that’s what makes up your week. Laura Vanderkam literally wrote the book about this topic and came up with some preee-tty interesting stats about how we spend our time. Her blog can get you started to begin to track your own…trust me, it’s enlightening and scary at the same time. Committing to making micro-movements (or big movements, for that matter) is going to cause a shift in your time management tectonic plates. If you value sleep, cuts will need to be made somewhere. I suggest starting with Facebook (guilty…that’s me raising my hand over here) and Twitter…then take a look at the reality TV crap-ola time that is flushed down the ‘ole john each week. Take an honest look at what you’re willing to give up to get closer to making time to paint, or write or take a dance class or practice your Photoshop skills. Write it down in your planner as an appointment with yourself.
Your goal is worth being written into your life….in PEN.
Toxic friendships that suck you dry…the quest to have the perfect house…the expectation to keep up with the rat race in your neighborhood…volunteering your time in places you know you’re not appreciated…doing a job you absolutely despise…
Releasing these dream killers could be the answer you need. Can you give yourself permission? I realize the job thing is a tough one, especially with a volatile economy…but I can honestly say that the others..hmmm…you’d be doing yourself a HUGE favor if you simply and directly released it from your life. Such hard things…believe me, I know…’been there with at least two and it is terribly difficult, but it was so worth it. It freed up such a huge space in my brain for things that really mattered to me.
You can do it…I know you can…IT WILL MEAN AMAZING THINGS FOR YOUR JOURNEY! The purpose that God has for your life is too important to hang on to dream killers.
GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO BE ALONE TO FOLLOW DREAMS
This is a hard one for women with kidlets hanging from their very limbs, but it is not selfish to ask for this time. I hear it so much from women (especially women who work and are uber-moms upon walking in the door) that they feel like it takes too much time away from their family to bring on a creative endeavor into the fray.
I beg you not to believe this for a second.
You must ask for this time and take it…even at the risk of people (small and large) living on your planet giving you a hard time. You’re not flying to Tahiti for a week with a girlfriend, for cryin’ out loud. You simply want to time to test out or even (yah!) pursue a dream…remember? That little friend who seems to be sitting in the corner while you stir the spaghetti sauce? God put this dream in your heart for a reason…I’m guessing it’s because He also gave you a gift to accomplish it.
CREATING A SPACE
This lovely environment happens to belong to a dear friend of mine. She is fabulous, in fact, and a great model of how to take that creative bull by the horns and wrangle him in. She made this space to realize her goals of making beautiful things. It inspires her and fills her up in all its amazingly wonderful pink-ness.
Now, friends…I realize that we don’t all have the little room tucked away that we can take over and in one IKEA visit whip it into art-making shape..some of you out there might not even have a closet, let alone a room of your own. But I can tell you, that if you get innovative, like with these images, you can carve out the space you need to soar. It will be your own space where ideas take shape, even to be retreated to in the middle of the night.
COURAGE AND BRAVERY
If you’ve had the privilege of going to Brave Girls Camp (and I highly recommend it), you’ve witnessed bravery in action. It’s moving forward when moving forward seems completely draining and awkward. Bravery doesn’t make a list of negative what-ifs…it only brings on the mojo to do what needs to be done. The trust you place in God is completely revealed when taking action—He has equipped you..rely on it.
Courage means stepping out and looking forward…not casting your peepers side to side to see what people in your creative field are doing or making or writing…yes, we can support friends who are realizing their dreams too, but
of what God’s
stirring up in your heart
when you go about realizing yours.
Does looking at the accomplishments of others make you anxious?
Does it make you feel like you’re not doing enough?
Does it make you feel small?
Recognize it and don’t go there for awhile…stay right in your own space with your own lovely, beautiful, talented self and write down your plan of action…revel in just being present with that pink elephant…not letting the small voice of doubt creep in.
…if thyself can’t handle looking at the amazing success of others at this stage in the game, it is OK.
Withdraw for a bit and find that creative space you want to live in. My friend Melody did a bang-up job with this last year with a hiatus from Facebook and a retreat to her art studio for creating time. It has made all the difference for her and she recommends it highly. It’s so important to connect with what’s REAL right in front of you…and that includes communicating with loved ones by speaking and laughing together…sometimes I get frightened that it will all go away by the time my kids are grown…it won’t ,will it? We must not let it.
Pay attention to the joy levels inside when you take on any task. Does is make you feel positive and hopeful? Does is feel right?
…and if you feel making a big change is worth it, give it the space in your brain, your home, and your life that it deserves. If you nurture it and believe that growing this beautiful thing is worth the effort, the rewards will be more than you ever could have dreamed.
**Lara’s Personal blog: Modern Prairie Girl**