Yesterday I woke up consumed by fear. I had fallen in to an old trap of lying in bed in the early morning thinking about all the ways everything was going to go wrong and how my life was about to slowly crumble around my ears. Oh yes, I definitely have a propensity to catastrophise when I’m under stress. This certainly isn’t the first time this negative cycle of thoughts has run through my mind since I’ve branched out on my own so I thought it was about time I wrote about it. I’m not a risk taker. I come from a long line of ‘play it safe thank you very much’ types. And that has provided a level of security and safety in my life that I am forever grateful for. So to break out of that, to take a step that isn’t the safe, sensible, good prospects, excellent benefits step can feel like standing on the edge of a precipice. There are days when I have my head up and I look at the horizon and it is so beautiful. I can see how I will build a bridge to that place and it fills me with such energy and excitement. And then there are days when I look down. And all I can see is me crashing to floor. And it makes me feel sick to my stomach.
So what do I do on those days, like yesterday, when all I can focus on is falling? Well, obviously, before I do anything I make a cup of tea. That can only help. I then make the time to take these important steps:
Firstly, I find a quiet place to sit and reflect on what it is that triggered the fear. This usually means an early start but very early morning is the quietest time in our house. If I’m awake and lying there worrying I know it’s better for me to just get up. Sometimes I write it down. Sometimes I just think it through. But I always look for patterns. Yesterday, I was reacting to some disappointing news about a contract I had hoped to secure. I had told myself it was in the bag. It wasn’t. And it brought to the fore the uncertainty, the lack of security and the unpredictability of this life I have chosen. Recognising this immediately helped me to feel more in control. I knew why I was feeling this way.
Next up, I lean on my network. I talk about it. I say it all out loud. “This is hard”. “I don’t know if I can do it”. “I need help.” And the support comes back in waves. The moral support. The practical support. The love and the belief. And it always, always gives me the boost I need. It’s not easy to ask for help or to let people know we are struggling but the amazing thing is, if you are surrounding yourself with the right people, there will be no judgement in you reaching out to them. And when we are honest about how we feel it resonates with others. It allows them to own their fears too. It’s a mutually beneficial process. I would not have made one step on this journey to find a new way to live and work without my support network. I treasure it.
I will then go back to my vision, my purpose; the reason I’m doing this in the first place. And I ask myself, is it still worth the risk? And the answer, so far, has always been yes. One day it may not be. Or a new vision may emerge. But I can only know the answer to this question because I have taken the time to create my vision of what my future success looks like. It acts as my guide, helps me to make decisions and reminds me what I am doing this for when the going gets tough.
And after all of that I am ready to get back to my to do list. When I’m ready to start focussing on what actions I need to take I know I’m back in a positive mental space. And the act of making that list, getting back to action, helps me to feel back in control again.
Taking a leap in to the unknown isn’t easy. You have to push yourself in new ways and fight against limiting beliefs you’ve held since childhood. This can sometimes feel insurmountable. I’ve learnt that by paying attention to the source of my fear; by giving myself the space and time to look that fear in the face and name it, diminishes it. And then I can get back up again, take a deep breath, look up at that horizon and keep on building my bridge.