We all have dreams for how we want our lives to turn out. We envision the world we want as us doing what we love, with the love of our lives, and giving love to the world around us in big and life-changing ways. Then, reality sets in. We get a job to pay the bills, we walk into a life we didn’t expect or plan for and, before we know it, we’re settling for far less than our hearts desire.
What’s worse? We give up on our dreams. We stop thinking about what could be and start settling for what is. We stop demanding that the world change for the better and start living as a slave to the demands the world has placed on us.
As a life coach, I see this storyline play out over and over again with every single client (and, of course, in my own life). There is really only one reason we don’t live the life of our dreams. Only one reason we give up on the life that we want and settle for the life that we have. It’s the thing that holds our greatness hostage and keeps us from achieving success in every single endeavor…
The other night I had a dream where I woke up to the sounds of my son screaming in his bedroom. I went into his room and flipped on the light where he was panicking and pointing to something in his bed. I fearlessly pulled back the covers (to show him that the boogie man isn’t real) and was terrified to find a long black snake.
Now, I don’t know about you, but me, I share Indiana Jones’ feelings about these animals. I. Hate. Snakes. My earliest childhood memories of snakes come from a bad experience with a python at a petting zoo (which has probably been wildly modified in my own head over the years), and after that I never looked back. So, to pull back the covers in my son’s bed and see a snake there was no small thing. It was a representation of my fears. The things that scare me most about moving forward in my life, my work, and my relationships. The things that I’m sure I won’t be enough for. The things I’m sure I’ll get rejected if I do.
The funny thing about fear is that it is the most common emotion we feel as human beings, and yet, we treat it is as though it is a thing to be eradicated and sequestered. It’s something that we all feel from time to time but none of us want to talk about. Because of our society’s attempt to make fear something that is uncommon in our daily lives, we have the tendency to feel as though our fears should never be shared or that we’re somehow alien to the rest of the fearless world if we are feeling these emotions. But it’s simply not true.
Which Fear Is Holding You Back?
In fact, in all of our lives there are only two kinds of fear that hold us back from living the life we dream of:
- The Fear of Not Being Enough. This is commonly referred to as the “fear of failure” and it shows up whenever we are asked to do almost anything that is out of our comfort zone. When we feel inadequate to accomplish what has been set before us, we begin to focus on all the reasons that we can’t or won’t be successful and we make excuses or avoid the issue altogether. Sound familiar?
- The Fear of Not Being Loved. This is more widely referred to as the “fear of rejection” and it shows up whenever a connection with another human being is on the line. When we have to strike up a friendly conversation and we don’t know if it will be reciprocated, when we have to release our work to the world and we don’t know how other people will respond, when we have to stand up for ourselves in a relationship and we’re not sure what reaction we’re going to get from the offending party, then we begin to focus on the pain of the process instead of the joy of the outcome. To avoid that pain we’ll do almost anything. We’ll avoid the conversation, we’ll put off writing the book (what I’m struggling with at the moment), or we’ll put up with the abuse just so we don’t have to feel the sting of rejection. Does this happen to you?
The truth is, this happens to all of us. We’re faced with the decision to make our world look more like our dreams or settle for the life we know we don’t want. One path requires us to summon the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway and possess the compassion to love ourselves enough so that we don’t need the approval of others. The other path doesn’t require anything from us but to sit still and be a victim to our emotions because we’re afraid that we won’t be enough and we’ll get rejected.
Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway
So, I saw the snake in my son’s bed and my heart fell because my first thought was I won’t be able to handle this. I started to feel the fear of panic and that anxious chemical reaction began to flow through my bloodstream. But then, I looked at my son, and I realized that he needed me to become the person that saves him from this terrifying surprise. He was relying on me to protect him and get this snake out of his room. And it was then, that I shifted.
I fearlessly grabbed an empty pillow case from the closet and coaxed the snake into it. I carried it outside and released it into the yard. I ran back inside and scooped up my little man to let him know that it was going to be okay. And I didn’t worry for one second that I wasn’t going to be enough. Why? Because my focus was completely on my son and who I needed to be for him in that moment. I stopped believing in all the reasons why I wasn’t going to be successful and started being committed to taking action and making it happen.
My coaching mentor, Tony Robbins, once said, “People will do far more in service to others than they will ever do for themselves.” Want to live the life of your dreams? Focus on who you’ll be serving when you do. The fear won’t go away, but it will enable you to feel the fear and do it anyway. Don’t let your fear decide your fate!
Question: What are you holding back from doing because of fear and what can you focus on to make it happen? I’d love to hear your stories! You can leave a comment by clicking here.