“True happiness involves the full use of one's power and talents.” ~John W. Gardner
If you’re afraid…
…to launch your project,
to share your voice,
to sing in front of someone,
to dance in public,
to write a book,
to show who you really are to the world,
to ask someone out,
to tell someone you love them,
to try something new,
of what other people will think of you…
if you’re afraid of any of these things or more, I have three simple words for you:
Do it anyway.
Do it anyway! Isn’t that liberating? Come on, isn’t it kinda?
You don’t actually have to overcome your fears to do any of the things you’re afraid of. Every single time you become conscious that you’re frozen from fear you get to make a choice. You get to choose to continue to be stuck or you get to choose to move through the fear.
Moving through the fear does not mean that fear is going to go away. And let’s just be clear here: trying to be fearless is a waste of our time and energy.
Trying to be fearless is an attempt to make it easy to do something that feels difficult. It could also be called avoidance. Instead of avoiding, you can choose to feel the fear right now and do what you need to do in spite of it. Yes, it’s going to feel scary. But so what?
If we want to focus on how things feel for a minute, let’s think about this deep desire you have to share your art. (When I say art, I’m speaking about your gifts, your service, the thing that your soul is screaming to share.)
So, you have this deep calling to share your art but there’s also this other part of you that is afraid. So you think about all of the reasons you’re scared and you analyze them and you go back to your art and you try to make it more perfect so you can squelch any potential haters.
Then it’s time to share and you get scared again, and this cycle goes on.
This might look a little differently for you.
You might just be frozen in fear. You might be so scared you haven’t even started your art. You might be avoiding it. You might be perfecting it, so convinced that a true artist spends a lifetime perfecting something when you’re really just scurrrred. Yes, you are.
And all of this that I’m describing, all of it spells out A.N.X.I.E.T.Y. So let’s take the power out of fear.
So let’s take the power out of fear. If we do it anyway, if we launch the project, if we stop perfecting, if we take any kind of leap that feels risky, we’re telling fear that its voice doesn’t hold any weight.
Isn’t that more fun than all of the anxiety around avoiding the leap? Just jump. It’s the most difficult and yet the simplest thing you can do. And the trick is that once you do it the first time, it gets a little bit easier to jump the next time.
One of my favorite Paulo Coelho quotes is handwritten on a chalkboard in my kitchen. It says, “No matter how you are feeling, get up every morning and prepare to let your light shine forth.”
I write a lot about the fleeting nature of feelings. They come and go. They’re not stable. They blow with the wind. So yeah, it would be lovely to be stoked to share your gifts with world. But the truth is that when it comes to being seen and heard, most of us are scared, and most of us are scared of what other people think.
What other people think about your work is none of your business. Your business is listening to your soul and abiding by it.
Your business is connecting with the depths of yourself and living a life so fulfilling that there could never be such a thing as regret.
Your job is not to worry about someone else, change yourself for someone else, or stifle yourself out of fear of someone else.
And let’s just shift our perspectives a bit. We spend so much energy worried about whether people will misunderstand us, dislike us, or mistreat us. The truth is that most people are supportive. Most of the people we fear will surprise us and say, “Hey what you’re doing is awesome. I admire it.”
And the very few who don’t, the ones who want to critique you instead of looking at themselves, they’re the last people you should be worrying about. Judgment comes from fear. And when someone else projects their fear onto you, it’s not worth an ounce of your energy. Keep it movin’.
No, it’s not easy to do things that feel scary. It can be painful to show the parts of yourself that are really you. It can be really hard to hear people say mean things about your art.
The truth is that there are really unpleasant things about being alive, but there are also things that are more important than feeling good.
When your soul is screaming loud enough you’ll have no choice but to listen and leap. But maybe do it before then. Maybe choose to move through the fear as soon as it shows its face. Maybe do it anyway.
Hiding woman image via Shutterstock