“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” ~H. Jackson Browne
When I close my eyes and ponder the dreams that I have, the hopes and wishes that I cradle in my heart, I wonder what has prevented me from reaching for and achieving them. Oh, I come up with a whole slew of excuses, sometimes disguised as “reasons.”
The seeker of my truth fires back with a rebuttal most of the time.
“It is better to attempt and fail than fail to make any attempt at all,” it says in response to my ego’s ramblings about how I won’t ever succeed.
“You make time for what is important to you,” my inner light says in response to my ego’s musings about how busy my life is, working a full-time job, while also parenting two active, small children.
Regardless of the excuse, it can always boil down to one thing. Fear.
I lost my dad traumatically and unexpectedly in 2003. I spent the next eight years wading through the sadness and anger, searching for some deeper meaning, some explanation for how serendipitously and “coincidentally” it all unfolded.
Then in 2011, I made an amazing discovery that was ultimately life changing. The catalyst for this shift in my being was a referral from a friend to read a book about life after death.
Suddenly, I realized that my soul, my intuition, my gut—it had something to say about how I should purposefully fulfill my path in this lifetime.
I spent quite a bit of time trying to differentiate between these disparate voices and messages I was receiving. Is it my head or my gut?
The ego is fear-driven. It relishes in success, achievement, and status. It directs you to analyze the route that leads to all of these things.
Intuition is heart driven and does not equate status and success with happiness, but rather is the essence of happiness. The simple act of listening to intuition results in serenity.
Differentiating between these voices takes practice. When making a decision, consider asking yourself, “Is this decision based on a fear of failure and a desire to succeed, or is this choice based on your heart’s desire to express itself?”
Differentiating between these voices is a lifelong journey for most of us.
The next fork in the road, for me, came when I realized that my true self had been fighting in my corner all along, while my fear, my ego, and my head conspired to hold me back.
I woke up one night worrying about my job, and ultimately was paralyzed by the fear that I’d have to work as a teacher for the rest of my life, long after my desire and my drive to teach had left me. I’ve loved my job, as it has meaning and value, but I also knew that my intuition was nudging me in new directions.
Would I be able to step away from the security that this full-time job provides?
I imagined that I was on my deathbed and wondered what it would be like to look back at a life half-lived. I reflected on the miracles in my life, for they are plenty. My family, children, and friends are all that I could have ever asked for and a ton more.
I got a great education. I took advantage of opportunities for growth in my work. And I feel successful in the choices I’ve made up to this point.
There it was, though, that nagging voice inside me that said, “You can do more, you can be more, reach for the stars, publish that book you’ve always wanted to write, do it without fear, and do it with vigor, for you are amazing, and you are worthy!”
It was this day, late in 2011, when I made a choice to kick fear in the teeth and let my true self do its thing, the thing that I’d been suppressing for so long: writing.
Not only did I just start to write, I also told that fear of judgment to take a hike and I started publishing my writing on a blog. For everyone to see. For everyone to read. For everyone to judge.
I was scared, and it took some courage, but ultimately I decided that I didn’t care because that’s how bad I wanted it.
I started to feel like I was taking a step in the direction of my life’s purpose despite the fear, and sometimes judgmental reactions from some of the people in my life. My inner light adjusted, kicked the doubt to the gutter, and stepped up to defend the truth that is me.
I’m not yet working as a full-time writer, which is my dream, but despite the fear that I’ve given an incredible amount of power, I’ve started the climb.
In the past three months, I have set and reached goals which, just a year ago, my fear didn’t allow me to even entertain. As each week passes, I make new goals that lead me to fragile branches.
The reward, though, is directly related to the degree of risk.
I’ve realized that the hardest part of the journey was truly and deeply accepting the truth that I can do anything that I want to do. Yes, it’s true (deep breath)!
Do you believe the same? If you’re also struggling to overcome your fear, remember to:
1. Listen to your intuition.
The biggest challenge here is deciphering the messages that come from our head and those that come from our gut, or our divine self. I remember the feeling of awe when I discovered that my inner voice even existed, and that there truly is a difference between the judgmental ego and the divine voice.
Pure bliss ensued when I understood that intuition is never wrong. Letting go of the perceived security that our ego provides feels scary, but marinating in the magic that is our intuition brings true security.
How do we find that voice? How do we know what it sounds like? It is the calm, quiet, certain whisper that never intends to harm you or anyone in your path. It is the creative, sure, knowing feeling that connects you to the flow of your own purpose and in the direction of your highest good.
It takes practice, stillness, and patience to connect to this inner voice. It is there, waiting for you to tune in.
2. Pinpoint and label the root of the fear.
We work so hard to avoid our fears that sometimes we choose detours (that surely come from the insecurity of our ego) instead of tackling the climb.
When we dissect and compartmentalize our fear into tangible parts, we are better able to address each component. Categories of fear might include financial concerns, fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, and fear of disappointing others.
3. Tackle manageable pieces bit by bit.
Once we identify the parts of fear that need to be tackled, we can use intuition as a guide and start to climb that tree, one small step at a time.
Trusting your intuition means that you may sit with fear, anxiety, and insecurity, but you allow yourself to follow your inner voice as you work through those feelings and move forward. And it doesn’t need to happen overnight.
Instead of climbing the entire tree in one day, or one week, or one month, we can plan to climb just a couple feet each week. As we long as we consistently check in with our intuition, we will have a strong motivation to keep going.
We can choose to partake in life each day with a fulfilling purpose, or we can choose to watch our lives pass us by, fed by fear.
I choose the former, bit-by-bit, step-by-step. Which will you choose?
Photo by Darcy McCarty