What is your greatest fear? My brother, who was nervous and engaged to be married, asked me for advice. I thought about it and the best I could offer was, “When in doubt, don’t freak out.”
It is amazingly normal for horrific things to happen in the course of a lifetime. I read that in any given 10 year period, it is very likely that each person will experience a major, life altering negative event such as a death, divorce, terminal illness, etc. Those kinds of losses make our other losses seem almost trivial, but like the proverbial last straw, we sometimes buckle under cumulative pressure and a plethora of minor negative events, like children leaving home, becoming less independent with age, and other, more predictable life changes. Sometimes even positive blessings like a new baby or buying a home can put us in a tail spin as we try to adjust.
I often feel like I ought to be special. All these things should not impact my life. But they do, and they are a normal part of being a vulnerable, connected human being.
I call surprise, major negative events “asteroids.” It feels like something drops out of the sky, makes a huge impact on my life and then leaves a big hole. I’m suddenly at the bottom of a crater with tons more work just to make it back to where I was yesterday. For example, I worked very hard for months to save for a family vacation, setting aside a little money from the grocery budget and stretching things however I could. Then a hurricane came and caused our roof to leak. Our insurance didn’t cover it, because it was a “maintenance” issue. Suddenly we needed $10,000 dollars, and the vacation rug was ripped right out from under me.
We can easily “freak out,” and sometimes I do. But, it never helps. I’ve found that I transition best when I realize that “asteroids” are game changers. The goal is no longer to thrive. The goal is to survive. Getting back to “normal” or health is major reconstructive surgery, and it takes time. I have to change my expectations.
Even in the absence of “asteroids”, when we should be flying toward our potential, we run into snags. What could be in the way of our utter and total success?
Marianne Williamson says,
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
When we are very experienced, in fact amazingly professional, we are still not immune. Fear can launch a surprise attack at any time. We all can “choke” with self-consciousness, stage fright, or writer’s block. Even trying to conquer fear puts us in an unwinnable position within ourselves. Jeff Wise, in his book Extreme Fear explains, “trying not to think about it will likely only make the problem worse.”
Success in Spite of Fear
What, then, can we do? How can we win against these unseen events and forces in our lives?
Except for real threats that we can prepare for or avoid to keep ourselves physically safe, fear seems like the enemy of all reason and success. We can’t allow ourselves to fear it, we can’t avoid it, and we can’t even fight it without getting stuck in a cycle that is counter-productive. Anxiety seems like a real success killer.
What if we were to welcome it? After all, fear is normal and a healthy human response to change, novelty, stress, and actual danger. We could listen to it, but just long enough to decide if it was a real or imagined danger. We could then focus instead on what we hope to accomplish, our mission, or the message we want to bring.
I think to “win”, we must take action in spite of it. We can hear the fear buzzing in our ear and talk back to it. “Thank you for your concern, but come what may, I will go forward with or without you.” Linda Hamilton, a psychologist who specializes in performance, says, “anxiety is not all bad.” Fears peak our focus and energy. She explains, “the fear is gearing you up to rise to the occasion.” It could be that our fears have helped us reach the level of success we have right now. They keep us alive, prepared, and active.
Let’s take the bull by the horns and instead of running or fighting, dance with it.
Marianne Williamson reminds us,
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. —-from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.
May you be powerful and free even with your fears.
DarEll S. Hoskisson
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: https://personalabridgements.wordpress.com and https://darellhoskisson.wordpress.com