So, I'm expanding my private practice here in Fort Collins/Loveland CO...and I'm scared spitless. I'm looking at the costs, and realize that I BARELY will have enough to do this, even with cutting corners and paring things down to the bone. Before I know it, I start thinking of the "what ifs" and "I don't know how to's" and I start feeling paralyzed and helpless. I've spent a good part of the day like that, and finally decided that I'd had enough of sitting there feeling crappy.
So, I took my own advice and first, moved. Very simple...I went with my husband to the home/repair store to look for a bookshelf. VERY simple, right? But it got me out of my chair, off my but and doing something. It distracted me enough from the paralysis so that I could think.
When I got home, I continued to "move" - I told myself, do one thing. Just one, and it doesn't have to be anything huge or threatening. Just one small thing. So, I decided to work on my web page some more. Ok...it was something, and I felt like maybe I could do one more thing.
So, next on my list was looking at information for developing a business plan...THIS is something that for some reason sets off the alarm bells inside. I don't know why, but this is the part I'm most afraid of. SO..."feel the fear and do it anyway" as Susan Jeffers counsels. I also worked on some emotion regulation and distress tolerance as this was really hard for me. I went on the internet and looked at information - that wasn't so bad, so I did one more step...I thought about my SWOT material. (For those of you who are like me and don't have a clue as to what that means, this is what I found out: S=strengths, W=weaknesses, O=opportunities, and T=threats.)
Long story short, I got a LOT more done today than I ever expected. I used my skills, did just a LITTLE bit outside my comfort zone and I hope it's going to pay off. Doing something new, something you're not very good at, or something where there's a lot at stake is frightening. Facing that can be liberating and wonderful.
Usually in these situations, the things at stake are things that are very important to us - our social standing, our financial survival, our reputations - these are hard things to risk losing or damaging. And yet, sometimes to grow we have to do just that - risk it.
There is a plaque in my therapist's office that says, "Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far they can go." (And yes, I see a therapist - it's good for the soul - and good for me professionally too ;> ) I love this quote - it gives me hope, because every time I go beyond my comfort zone, I feel like I'm going too far. I feel like I go too far when I even think of trying to run a business - it intimidates the heck out of me. This quote lets me know that it's not just ok, but that it's going to help me do better.
Fear is a really tough emotion to counter. It often hides under a lot of other emotions, like anger, insecurity, embarrassment, shyness, etc. Fear doesn't just stop us from doing what we want, or from living the life we deserve, it stops us from trying, from growing, and from being who we are - our authentic, beautiful selves.
So countering fear usually has to be done consciously. Being aware it's there is the first step - like I said earlier, fear likes to hide behind other feelings. Recognizing fear for what it is, and pulling it into the light takes away a lot of the power it has over us. This is where Mindfulness skills help - realize that fear is pulling you WAY over into emotional mind and that you can use your logical mind to find balance - the wise mind.
From there...MOVE. Do one, tiny, little, teensy-eensy thing that contradicts the fear. If you're afraid of flying, look up trips you'd like to go on and just LOOK at the flight schedules. If you're afraid of failing - do one thing you know you're good at, so you fight the fear with an accomplishment. (For me? NOBODY can "out organize" me! I am the queen of organization when I want to be!) The bottom line here is that you want to first DO something, and second do something that flies in the face of your fear. For me, it was facing the bewildering world of business planning. For you...it could be anything.
My next step in the fear parade is the IRS and tax stuff...I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but I am scared spitless of making a financial mistake and having the IRS on my tail. So... my movement is to first read the forms, make notes of what I don't understand, and research answers. It takes a while, but I feel more confident in my work.
I've found that there are always things to be afraid of. What sets us apart is that we can work to overcome our fears, and we can change our lives. We don't have to be ruled by what scares us. I'm not saying it's easy to do this - in fact, it's one of the hardest things you could ever do. AND it's worth it to live freely and authentically.
So...my battle against fear continues, and I hope that my baby steps will take me eventually to expanding my private practice. Where will yours take you?
Please Note: The content on this blog is intended for informational purposes only. This is not therapy, and if you wish to work in therapy, please contact your local mental health agency or your physician for a referral.
If you are in crisis or danger, please call 911 for immediate help. Please, again, realize that seeking out help really IS a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness. You don’t have to be alone in facing these things – there are people who care and who will help. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org .