Back from two lovely, sunny, quiet weeks in Spain, I got back to work again on Monday. As many of you know, I quit my job last summer because I wanted to be free, to be my own boss, to do only things that I love, and work with people I love.
I chose bliss – or so I thought.
On Monday, I woke up with a familiar feeling in my stomach. This wasn’t bliss. It wasn’t even joy or contentment.
It was reluctance, barely disguising … outright FEAR.
I’d left my job only to wake up feeling shittier than I’d ever felt when I was still working for a boss?? What the hell was going on? I was doing what I loved, right? I was enjoying my freedom, following my heart, listening to my soul….
But was I?
Slowly but surely, the ups and downs a starting business owner inevitably goes through had started pushing me into what I call doing mode. Into believing that as long as I kept doing stuff, I’d make this work, and I’d be…. Safe.
So I was writing ever growing to do lists, doggedly trying to finish them every day, while constantly feeling I wasn’t keeping up (with what? With whom? Who’s my boss??), meanwhile having my inner critic (pesky bastard) tell me I’m an amateur, that I need to step up my game if I ever want to succeed, and should probably be doing a gazillion more courses – both business and in my field – before I will ever amount to anything.
But I’m not ‘safe’. At least, not in the way my ego mind understands ‘safe’, which can be summarized as: predictability.
I KNOW of course, that all fear produces, is more fear. The mind will always fuel that squeezing feeling with more and more fearful thoughts. And I know that listening to the voice of fear will NOT get me in that ‘safe’ place. This is not about working harder, doing more courses, checking more to do’s off my list.
This is about being o.k. with the unknown, the not knowable. It’s about trusting myself, my abilities, the voice of my soul, and Life itself – before there is hard evidence of success. It’s about trusting my calling, going with my intuition, and following joy.
This can be SO damn hard when fear rears its ugly head. And believe me, when this kind of fear gets its dirty claws on me, I’m not necessarily back in my happy zone after a few minutes of quiet meditation and a bit of peaceful music.
Why am I telling you this? Because I know for sure that you go through this from time to time. And I know how convincing the voice of fear sounds. Her words seem to make so much sense. It’s so hard not to act on it.
Not to be driven by that senseless urge to just keep doing doing doing stuff.
Not to take panic-driven action after panic-driven action.
It will get you nowhere. It won’t make you safe. It’ll just add stuff to your to do list, add to your feeling of overwhelm and most importantly: keep you from reaching your goal. Assuming that your goal is to have peace of mind, to live the life you love and to do the things you were born to do.
There are ways to get out of the panic zone, back into the growing zone. And it’s not: doing more stuff. Nor is it denying the anxiety. What you should do (and what I did, once I realized what was going on), is somewhat counter-intuitive.
Stop doing. Now. Really! No, don’t finish this task first, don’t put this off till next week. Stop immediately with whatever you are doing.
Breathe. Take a couple of deep breaths. Or loads of deep breaths. Drop into your body. Feel your feet on the floor, your bottom on the chair, notice your breath.
Focus on your senses. What are you hearing right now? Seeing? Smelling? Direct experience directs your attention away from your fearful thoughts and the dictatorial voice of your inner critic.
Journal. Write across the top of a page: what thoughts am I believing right now? And write away, at least 10 minutes, more if you can/want. See what comes up. Question the truth of every single belief you uncover. Remember: thoughts are not facts.
Check in with your soul. What does it want? What’s its advice? Do that! (the voice of fear might want to warn you off it, because your soul will probably suggest something like walking, sleeping, having tea, or, in my case, bake muffins (seriously!! I NEVER bake muffins!) – and that seems totally useless to the anxious one. Thank her for her concern and tell her you’ve got this. Then go follow the advice of your soul. It aims to lead you into peace and joy. And THAT is the place you want to work – no: LIVE from.
Some fears are persistent. Overwhelming. Sometimes you just need some help moving through stuck patterns. I don’t always work through my stuff alone! I never have. Sometimes you need to allow yourself support. Just imagine the breathing space you’ll gain once you’ve cleared this!
If you go to my 1-on-1 coaching page, you can book yourself in for a free clarity session. We’ll explore what is going on for you and if it would be beneficial to work together.