I used to suffer from incredibly anxiety; as in, it would stop me from going into a crowded coffee shop or restaurant. I would stand outside and look in the windows, look at the lines, get anxious that I didn’t know how their ordering system worked, or what I wanted, or worried that I would look stupid in front of strangers if I messed something up. I remember distinctly walking into Turtle Bread Company on 48th and Chicago, standing in line and have this panic feeling set in, where I needed to just get out. I told my boyfriend at the time I had to leave immediately; at the time, I had no awareness of what was going on with me, just that I was growing increasingly uncomfortable on a more regular basis.
This has happened to me before in my life, and I’ve brushed it off as being a little high maintenance, perhaps with an element of perfectionism thrown in. This time made me take pause; I had never experienced that moment of panic before, and it scared me. This was at a point in my life where I was not nearly as enlightened or had even a 1/4 of the self awareness that I have today. All I knew was that something in my head had to change; I had to stop giving into this panic and fear that was starting to drive my decisions in a fight or flight way.
There was a conversation I had with my dad when I was decided whether or not to go to graduate school; as we were talking, I realized that many of the decisions I had made up until that point had been driven out of fear or “safety” (not all, but a lot): the college I went to, the job I took after I graduated college, the decision I made to stay in Minneapolis rather than move to Chicago, and on. I didn’t want to do that anymore; that wasn’t my path. I wasn’t a “safe” person; I was/am a woman who wanted to do things with my life, not hide from it.
Many people, including a lot of the clients that I work with, struggle with pushing past this initial fear or anxiety, to see what lies across the ravine for them. Making the more daring choice, or the more exciting choice, comes with a natural anxiety because you don’t know what to expect. There isn’t a road map or guarantees; and that belief that we need to know, that predictability equals better, is a fallacy.
In that moment, after hanging up the phone with my dad, I made two decisions 1.) I was going to do my best to start making decisions out of opportunity and purpose, even though the fear was still there, and 2.) Limiting beliefs had started to create narrow parameters on my life, and I was going to start to knock them down, and reach for new, fluid and better fitting beliefs that allowed opportunities to show up for me.
When I share with clients my “secrets” for changing their mind set, I am often met with resistance and the rebuttal “Yeah, but it’s just not that easy”; as if this is a valid reason to not do important work in life. I’ve been in that place of not knowing the “hows” but just knowing that I desire something greater than I currently have. The simplicity about approaching your fear and anxiety is that it is a very easy decision to make: do you want to make choices in your life based in fear or based in hope? You decide; and if you choose hope, the Universe will show up. And if you choose fear, than I can tell you that nothing will change. Make no mistake though, this is an active choice; you are not a victim in life, you always have the choice of perspective.
For those of you are making the choice to get in the current of change and stop paddling upstream, keep reading. The idea of doing one thing a day that, “scares you” is not something I invented, only something that I used and found great success with. I still do today; this is an important piece of the process, realizing that this isn’t something you do once and your done. This is a new way of life, living in courage—which means noticing the fear and doing it anyways. Courage doesn’t mean choosing the easy way, it means choosing the path least travelled and, although fear might be your travel companion, it is not holding the map.