I was talking to a friend the other day about what her plans were for the future. I am always amazed at how people plan their futures, since the future frightens the hell out of me. She was naming all the very wonderful reasons why she should stay in our little town. I've explored many a conversation just like the one I had with her. The most common theme, I've come to recognize, is the fear of moving on. So many people are afraid of moving on from where they are in life. Moving on can represent instability and the unknown; neither of which any of us finds particularly fun. Even good change or desired change can leave us crippled with fear of releasing the status quo.
What Is Holding You Back?
My time working as a therapist and being treated by one has helped me identify many invisible beliefs that I use to sabotage myself. I am sharing them with you because, well... sharing is caring. Maybe it is time for you to move on from a romantic relationship, a friendship, a job, a town, or a belief. Maybe you are on the precipice of change and your legs are seizing up.
Fear is good, y'all. It reminds you that your body is working to protect you. Too much fear, though, can become toxic and the behaviors that chronic fear manifests results in a less than full life. You need to evaluate what you are protecting yourself from. Is it real danger or a prison of your own making?
Here are some ways I sabotage my ability to move forward because of fear.
1. My Inner Critic and Fear of Failure
I am so gracious with other people. I am long-suffering and kind. But if you took a trip down the road of my mind and made a left turn on "inner voice" street, you'd terrified. I am a drill sergeant with myself. I expect myself to execute with precision and perfect and anything less equals self shaming and rigidity. We combat this internal behavior by cultivating self compassion. Remind yourself that it is okay to feel worried or afraid. Re-frame the expectations you have for yourself: turn "failure" into a learning opportunity. "You aren't going to fail either way," you need to tell yourself, "you are going to learn what works best for yourself."
2. Fear of Adventure
Adventure equals fun and you aren't allowed to PLAY. As a kid who experienced significant instability and chaos in her upbringing, I feel significant stress around the ideas of fun and adventure. If something lacks a plan (and it is part of a major life decision) I start to feel the creeping fear from the traumatic stress I experienced. I wonder if I will be okay, if I will have what I need, and if I am in danger. I can get so wound up with fear that I just shut down and stop moving altogether. I experience feelings of hopelessness and depression and agitation.
You also might have an internal rule about being allowed to play. You may have experienced an elevated sense of responsibility, as a kid, like me. Your responsibility instinct is amplified because of your childhood experiences. We were taught that folly and fun isn't responsible. Adults don't fool around, and so you assign the adventure you'll experience with this change as "bad" or "inappropriate." We combat this internal behavior, again, by cultivating self compassion. Remind yourself that your past makes this instinct completely valid, but you don't need it to survive any longer. Pivot these feelings of fear into a focused self-determination. Remind yourself that you can obtain whatever resources you need to survive. You are resilient. You can parent yourself in a way that fills the gaps you might have developed as a child. The power of self-determination will disarm this fear. Create habits that cultivate joy and fun. The more you make letting go a part of your everyday life, the easier it will become to combat your fear reflex toward situations that require a sense of adventure.
3. Fear of Success
The fear of success is about two covert messages. The first message in the fear of success is about #1. Your fear of failure keeps you from starting because you don't want to risk not succeeding. The second part of this particular fear is about self value and feelings of worthiness. At some point you've started believing you don't deserve good things. You will settle for the long term pain of a dysfunctional relationship because you don't believe you can have anything better. There are also many changes that come with success. These changes can look like instability and then you activate fear #2. We combat this feeling, again (I KNOW!), by cultivating more self compassion. This self compassion should center around messages that reflect that you are good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it people like you.
We have to believe we deserve good things. We have to believe that we will be okay, no matter what happens. We have to believe that we are self-determined and can do the work. I am learning to face these fears on a daily basis.
How do you evaluate and face your fears?