Updated: Apr 15, 2021
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
That’s a LOADED question, isn’t it? It was a casual conversation between a coworker and myself that took place on a typical morning. She asked the big question about what I would do if I had no fear. It was then that I felt the lump in my throat drop suddenly to my stomach.
Then followed with big eyes.
Little did she know that she jolted my inner child that had tons and tons of dreams without limits. She dusted off the mental note of what I desired as my dream job: working full time at my own private practice.
I started talking, rambling even, about what I dreamed of doing. I could feel the energy and happiness radiate as I detailed my dreams, hopes, and aspirations. And then with a serious tone and facial expression she asked the common follow-up question of, “Well, what is stopping you?”.
I sat there and pondered for a second. What is stopping me? Hmm… It wasn’t a fear of rejection. I know several therapists who could serve as referral sources and the need for therapy far exceeds the supply of therapists at the moment. It wasn’t a fear of making mistakes- been there, done that (almost daily- ha). So that’s not it either. Am I living an inauthentic life? Nope, don’t think that’s it. I try to own my truth as best as I can... that's not it either.
As I continued to sit and think, the flood gates opened and I had several reasons, or dare I even say excuses, as to why “it wouldn’t work”. Reasons that ranged from the following:
That’s just wishful thinking. It will never come true.
I am a mom and I cannot take time away from my child (Hello there, Mom-guilt).
I need health insurance so working for myself isn’t an option.
It’s not secure and stable- too much risk.
Financially it could go really well, or my fear, really bad.
I sat there, embracing the uncomfortable feelings, trying my best to acknowledge and accept the anxious thoughts, all while trying to connect the dots. Then BOOM- it hit me. It all boiled down to one common concept: “BUT WHAT IF I FAIL?”. Ekk! Door slam. Mic drop.
Now is this a total surprise? Probably not, if I am honest. But I definitely did not want to openly embrace the idea that I, a person who I would like to consider (moderately) successful, had fear of failure. At the same time, I am aware that failure, success, and creativity go hand-in-hand and are often not found without a close connection to one another. I know these things. So now what? Of course, I naturally jump into my problem-solving mode.
Theoretically, what WOULD happen if I were to actually fail? Think worst case scenario- super extreme- very bad situation. What would happen? I’m talking about things like- I would be homeless and destitute, in a shelter or living with family. My child could be taken away due to my inability to care for them- type extreme thinking. Hello there, catastrophizing.
Now let’s play the opposite game- best case scenario, what would happen if I were to SUCCEED? Well, I could make enough money to be stable and even live what I would consider as a comfortable life. I could travel more- oh how I miss that! I could get immense intrinsic fulfillment because I would be living out my dream job- helping others in my community who struggle with mental health issues, life adjustments, etc. I would look forward to going to work everyday because it is something I truly enjoy. I would live a life with passion and most importantly, dwelling in my purpose while using my gifts and talents.
Read that last sentence again. WOO- that gave me chills.
This is what life is about.
Using your gifts and talents.
Finding your purpose.
OWNING that purpose.
Living. Your. Dream.
It was after this conversation with my dear coworker and my own self-reflection that I turned in my notice of resignation at my full-time job. I liked it, but I definitely didn’t love it. I decided in that moment that I refused to live in fear any longer and that I would indeed embrace the anxiety and live out my dreams.
This is my first week working full-time at my private practice.
That sentence comes with a multitude of emotions and thoughts. I am so incredibly thankful, humble, blessed, over-joyed and all the warm fuzzies about this major leap. And to be honest, there is still some anxiety. I try to sit with it, I validate that feeling and remind myself that not *all* anxiety is bad and that this is, instead, positive anxiety. I remind myself that I have the skills to do the work and that I have a support system to help along the way. I have a small circle of family and friends who are encouraging. I have an intimate group of therapist friends that have been pushing for this moment for a while (you know you who are). I am also very blessed to have my business partner and friend, Allie, to offer support and encouragement throughout this journey as well.
I say ALL of that to say to you:
What would YOU do if you were not afraid? What fear is holding you back from living your best life? Write it down. Make it REAL. Get ready to dig deeper.
What is stopping you? What’s the worst-case-scenario in your head? Do a mind-dump and write it all out. Acknowledge the fear- and give it some respect. One of our brain’s main functions is to determine what is “safe” and what is not- and it does this through our assessment of fear. Let’s strategize and problem-solve it. How likely is it that this will happen? What steps can I put in place to decrease the chance of this happening?
And my favorite- let’s play the opposite- what would happen if everything turned out great? Take a moment and daydream or fantasize about what life would be like without that particular fear. Embrace it. Imagine and create a world where this fear does not exist. What is that like? Soak up the details. Hold onto this vision of your dream- living life unapologetically while chasing your bold dreams. Own your truth.
Next, we make a plan. How can I begin to move towards this goal? What baby-steps can I take today that will help propel me forward? What supports do I need in place to ease the transition?
And finally, when able- Take. The. Jump.
Life is far too short and precious to live in fear.
Therapy can be an amazing tool to assist in living in your truth and embracing fears whole-heartedly so that you can accomplish your goals and dreams. If you’re interested in starting therapy, give our office a call today at 901-232-1956. We have a diverse team of skilled therapists that are ready and willing to help.
Written by: Heather Thomasson, LPC/MHSP, PMH-C