“Sometimes the things we want to avoid the most, are the ones that will bring us the most progress and growth."
The only constant in life is change – we've all heard that phrase before. But I don't think that's our only companion. I found that another thing that has always been in my life is „fear“ – showing up in one form or another:
It shows up as insecurities about how I look and what I say when I'm with people.
I like to generalize and say that I am „afraid“ of people and that's why I don't like being around them, but that's not completely true. It's a fear of not fitting in, not being accepted and liked the way I am. Which boils down to my believes of not being good enough and likable.
So, what I could do is buy the latest fashion trends and wear more make up. Work harder to be able to impress others with my achievements or go on more adventures to have interesting stories to tell.
But I don't think that's the solution.
We put this immense pressure on ourselves to comply with society's ideals, so much so, that we lose ourselves in them. Until eventually these feelings of discomfort become normal to us and so does the anxiety of not meeting these standards. An anxiety that evokes negative thoughts, which influence our reality and how we act. Our insecurities are born in our minds through social conditioning.
So instead, I rather follow my intuition, look after myself by eating healthy and doing what I love, go after goals that are important to ME and stop trying to please others.
It shows up as stress when I have a long list of things to do and I attempt to get them all done as soon as possible.
Lists and deadlines that I create myself, driven by thoughts of „I should“ and „I have to“ and the need of acknowledgment and recognition. Expecting a feeling of relief and accomplishment at the end of it, but that usually never arrives. There is always another thing to add to the list.
By waiting for someone else's recognition that might never come, I deprive myself of my energy and motivation to focus on what brings me joy and enthusiasm.
So instead of relentlessly doing and working, I am learning to take breaks to do what I enjoy and what makes me feel good. By taking those breaks I stop letting my worth be defined by how much I work and achieve. Through this I give myself the recognition for what I have already accomplished, as well as honoring to take time for myself, my needs and what makes me happy to recharge my batteries.
It shows up as overthinking when I write or create a new post.
Thoughts about whether or not I will find the right words, get the right idea and whether or not I will be able to bring it to paper – all stemming from a lack of confidence in myself and my abilities. Something that is fuelled by constantly comparing myself and what I create with what other's do and what is liked by the broader mass.
The more I try to force an idea to come, the less likely it will show up.
Instead, when I stop overthinking and shift my focus to something else – reading a book or going outside and just being in nature – that's when I get inspired and when my ideas have room to come up. Also, when I stop trying to be like somebody else by putting out what is authentic and genuinely me, it gives me drive and motivation to keep going.
It shows up as doubts when I keep pushing things instead of just starting to work on them.
For years I have wanted to get back to drawing and illustrating. Sadly I don't even get started, because – just like before – I keep looking at other people's work and the more I do that, the more I doubt what I come up with. So instead of having fun with it and practising to find my own style, I keep avoiding it and finding „more important“ things to do, because I am already assuming that it will not be good enough.
So I started asking myself, good enough by whose standards?
And if I keep trying to create something that is already out there, what's the point?
The whole point is to bring out what I have to give, with my own style, creativity and perspective. Not something that looks like somebody else's work. There will be people who like it, and there will be people who don't. Instead of focusing on them, I should be focusing on myself, my abilities and on developing them.
It shows up as worries when I want to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone.
Like getting started on my NPO, because I am „afraid“ of asking people for donations, and of not being able to „deliver“. Breaking it down again, I feel inadequate, because I have at some point been conditioned – by someone or a situation – to believe, that I am not capable of handling something this significant.
There is no doubt that there will be moments that will challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone. What is important, though, is that I believe that they won't take me down, but rather that I will be capable of taking them on and that they will build me up. That I can ask for help if I need it and that I will meet the right people and learn the right things at the right time to keep moving forward.
Our fear isn‘t actually keeping us safe by making us avoid things. Our fear is keeping us from living our lives freely and to the fullest – if we let it.
It's like a lid that is blocking our gifts, talents and abilites. It has been placed by our families, the people surrounding us and the environment we grew up in. Even so repeatedly by ourselves, when we don't meet society's standards. A lid that keeps our courage, strenght and gifts locked up, because it makes us think we are less capable, loveable, pretty, smart, creative, you name it.
It's worth taking a closer look into what is actually scaring us, making us insecure or anxious, because once we find the root, we can start working on it.
Remember though, it is one thing to acknowledge and observe where it's coming from, but it's another thing to immerse and wallow in it. If we do that it will hold us back and make us run away from the wrong things – unable to think and act freely.
It has the potential to influence what kind of job we take, where and how we live (aka what we make of our lives), what we consume and how we behave. Which again – correct me if I'm wrong – influences what we dare to do or go after.
So, besides stopping to worry about what other people might think, we should also stop worrying about failing. We can only gain from trusting that things will turn out fine, that we've got this and that we are doing enough, but most importantly ARE enough.
Trusting this provides us with a completely different mind-set than the one we are in when we are stressed or afraid. It makes us more balanced and gives us a clear head to help make better decisions and to see opportunities and solutions which we would have missed if we kept running around with our head in a dark cloud.
And don't forget: sometimes the things we want to avoid the most, are the ones that will bring us the most progress and growth.
Every new venture brings opportunities to learn. So don't be afraid of things not turning out the way you thought, wished or expected. Often in hindsight you will see that it just wasn't meant for you, even though you thought it was. However it will offer you an opportunity to adjust your course, which eventually will lead you to what is meant for you.
We learn from every experience and when we take a leap, no matter how it turns out, we will always have the assurance of knowing that we at least tried.
Which is more than most people ever dare to do.
Here are some tools that I use to work on my insecurities and when I feel overwhelmed by fear and worries.
The one tool that you always have with you, no matter where you are is your breath. When we are afraid, we tend to tense up, our heart is beating faster and we breath a lot shallower. So the best thing to do is to take deep breaths, all the way down to your belly. I found that I so often hold tension in my belly and as soon as I consciously relax those muscles, it changes how I feel. Breathe until you feel relaxed and that gives you a break to make room for some clear thoughts.
Staying with the breath, what has helped me tremendously with releasing old emotions and work on my believe system and insecurities is guided and transformational breathwork with Sina Birkholz. She listens to everything that comes up for me, everything that I want to talk about and then helps me find the root of my triggers and believes, to be able to let them go.
Something I do when I feel overwhelmed is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). I do a German guided session on Youtube with Laura Seiler. If you search for guided EFT, you will most probably also find one in English. It might seem strange in the beginning, but I can guarantee you that you will feel differently afterwards, so give it a try at least once and you can see for yourself.
Lastly I want to mention Affirmations. They are more of a long-term tool, since they are used to „reprogram“ your mind and replace negative believes about yourself and life with positive ones. Do some research on what they are, how they work and go ahead and give them a try as well. It only takes you a few minutes a day.