Why are we not doing the things we want to do?
Why don’t we just follow our passion?
I mostly thought it’s FEAR.
But what if it’s NOT?
Fear is a healthy reaction of the body to a (life-)threatening situation.
But what I called ‘fear’ had nothing to do with that. My ‘fears’ were present 24/7. No one, not even war journalists and aid workers are under threat around the clock, so certainly not me.
This was anxiety. Fear is realising that the car will hit you in about three seconds. It’s practical and useful. It’s not incapacitating.
Anxiety is worrying about the future. Worrying about the potential consequences of potential actions. Anxiety is caused by a long-term situation, but the body is reacting to how your brain perceives the situation. It can’t tell the difference between a threatening situation and a situation you are perceiving as threatening. Your brain just thinks your life is in danger ALL THE TIME.
But the ability to safely navigate our anxieties determines success – now, I think that’s something to tackle in 2017!
These are the most common anxieties (I tick almost all the boxes!):
- Making decisions. If you work in a corporation, you have a boss who tells you what to do and you’d seek permission before making any large-scale changes. But if you want to follow your own dream, no one will give you permission. But the good thing is: you only need permission from one person – and that’s yourself.
- Making the wrong decisions. What if [insert here]? Truth is – you won’t know. But not deciding allows external forces to drive your life forward, which means it’s still your life, but somehow to a lesser degree. You could own it all! And if you’re the more rational type: Strategists say that a good plan put into action today (and possibly improved later) is heaps better than the perfect plan you put into practice years later!
- Change. What if the things we’ve got aren’t great, but work out just fine? They pay the bills. It’s not ideal, but, surely, it could be worse. – This approach means you’re filling the next pages of your book by copying and pasting. Or you take the pen and start writing a new chapter!
- Lack of security. Yes, it’s hard. Security is like aphrodisiac, it’s so tempting, and it feels SO good. But in the long run, it prevents you from putting yourself out there, risking something. Security puts your personal growth to sleep.
- Letting others down. You have a responsibility towards others, such as children, your partner. Heck, what if everyone just did what they fancied? Impossible. Our kids need to understand right now that they don’t need to bother studying History of Art. Economics will do just fine. – This is fear disguised as rationalism. Living a life that perpetuates the stereotype that ‘making a living’ is the goal is not only normal, it’s insane (yes, it’s both).
- Being different. People’s first reaction will be that you’re crazy, irresponsible, or maybe even stupid. They’ll try and change your mind. – This might just be envy disguised as good advice. They’re envious because someone from their corner has dared trying. No, they’re not envious of the Queen of England. She’s too remote. But you, you are right here.
- Not making it because of gender bias. Yes, there are some industries where women need to work harder. But if you’re constantly on the lookout for things that might hinder you, it takes a lot from the energy that’s needed for creativity, strength and self-confidence. You’ll use energy to build fences for protection – but these very fences will also prevent your from daring!
And finally: THE FEAR OF BEING SUCCESSFUL
That last one is a strange one, but one of the most important ones. Many people have a great idea, they’ve evaluated the market, they’ve got the savings, they love what they’d be doing – but they won’t. It’s a weird thought but sometimes we’re just too scared to find out
- that our true potential is miles beyond what we thought was possible
- that we could have done so many things, so many years ago
- that we are truly powerful – and that we have to forgive ourselves for not using the potential that we’ve been given