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Fear keeps us safe, but it also keeps us stuck. It keeps us small. And the funny thing about fear is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we believe a fear, we confirm it to ourselves, usually by not taking action or allowing fear to keep us rooted in one place.
Here are nine common fears that are self-fulfilling prophecies, along with how I move past them when they come up in my life.
Not having enough money coming in to cover the money going out sucks. I’ve been in that position, and my instinct when I’m there is just to stick my head in the sand.
There are two big fears here: knowing you don’t have enough money and worrying that you’re never going to have enough money.
We think that ignoring the thing is going to make our lives better. But ignoring the unopened bills won’t help you. Opening them will. You have to look at the reality of what’s going on.
The reality of ignoring it out of the fear that you don’t have enough money and that it’s never going to get better is that—lo and behold!—it doesn’t get better. You’re letting the thing that thing you’re most afraid of drive your decision-making.
In my 20s, I was with a guy for four years. He was a jerk. And when I look back on that circumstance now, I can see that I was terrified of being alone. I was afraid of not having love and not having a partner.
By staying with this guy, though, I was emotionally alone. I was so lonely! Even though I physically was there with him, I wasn’t getting my emotional needs met. I was keeping myself from the opportunity to be in a more enriching relationship.
That’s why the fear of being alone is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fear of being alone keeps us alone.
I dealt with the fear of being alone by getting out of the relationship and living independently, just like I dealt with my fear of not having enough money by accepting that I didn’t have enough money. You have to give yourself the chance to figure these things out, rather than letting fear stop you from moving forward.
We say this to ourselves in a bunch of different ways, like…
I’m too set in my ways
I’m already established in my career
I have young kids
I have teenagers
I have kids in college
I’m already 30/40/50/60
But again, all of these are self-fulfilling fears. We’re afraid of being too late or too old to start something new, so what do we do? We don’t start the side project. We don’t go back to school. We don’t set up the writing habit.
We just stay put. But the truth is, you’re never going to be closer to the start than you are right now. Life will keep reinforcing your belief that it’s too late unless you start.
I’m going to tell you right now: this is bullshit.
Deciding that you’ll never make as much money in your day job means that you’ll never make as much money as in your day job. You’ll make sure of that, whether you realize it or not.
It took me three years to make as much money in my business as I did in my day job. And at the five-year mark, I doubled it. It can be done!
But are you going to give five years to your business? And if you know it might take five years, do you want to wait five years to start, when it will be even harder to get going?
So why bother? Because you want to get off the path you’re on. You want to feel excited to be awake in the morning, even if it’s hard and requires effort.
So many people let the fear of someone stealing their ideas keep them from acting on their ideas. The truth is, though, that ideas a dime a dozen. What gives an idea power is what you’re willing to do with it!
There are other podcasts about creativity, for example. But I’m putting my own slant on it with Raise Your Hand Say Yes. There are multiple cinematic interpretations of Snow White, but each one has its own bent.
So instead of sitting on your idea, get out there and do it. If you don’t put your idea out into the world because you’re afraid that it will get stolen, then guess what? It’s as good as stolen. Somebody else might as well do something with it, especially if it’s as good of an idea as you say it is.
One more thought about ideas: there is no such thing as the best perfect idea, and then you’re never going to have more. The more I do with my ideas, the more ideas I get. And they get better and better and better.
There are many things that I am painfully aware of not knowing. But I do know a few things! When you say, “Oh, I’d love to be a painter, but I don’t know how to paint,” obviously, you don’t know how to paint! You’ve never picked up a paintbrush and tried!
If you let that fear win, if you give in to it, then what happens is that you simply continue for your whole life. Or until you just get over it or until you just get tired of it. You continue to not know how to paint.
The only way to get past that is to 1) accept what you don’t know, and 2) do it anyway.
People will ask me what I’m doing, and I’ll list a bunch of things. And naturally, they’ll ask, “Oh, do you know how to do all of that?”
No. I don’t. But I’m learning, and I trust that I will figure it out. That right there is one of the most powerful phrases you can have in your toolbox.
It’s so easy to stay on a loop of “I’m not r
eady, I’m not ready, I’m not ready,” rather than figuring out how to get yourself ready. By letting “I’m not ready” hold us back, guess what happens? We are never ready.
The only way to combat this one is to take action. Figure out how to get yourself ready. Take a baby step towards researching, making a list, or whatever you need to do to feel prepared. And then go do it.
When it comes to the creative process, to creating work, to putting something out in the world that didn’t otherwise exist…the reality is, people will judge you. And that’s okay!
Not everyone is going to like your flavor of pizza. Many people in my life don’t get me, judge me, who have all sorts of thoughts about me. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t worry about them, because many people also thank me for my work.
Put your faith in the people who believe in you, rather than allowing the fear of judgment from people you don’t put your faith in, keep you from trying.
We’re being judged all the time. But once you start showing up in your life differently, the judgmental people go away. The relationships you’re able to build while living from that authentic, creative, lit-up place are so strong and so powerful that you don’t need the Judgey McJudgersons.
Even if you put your time, energy, money, and whole heart and soul into something, there are no guarantees.
But when we are afraid of failure, we keep ourselves from starting. And then we never do the thing. And that’s an automatic fail. Failure could be trying something and not working, or it could never be getting off the sideline.
Even when something doesn’t work, even when an opportunity is missed, even when something is a flop, you’re still farther along on your timeline than you would be if you were still trying to figure out the best way not to fail.
I want the fulfillment of knowing that I gave it all I had. Even if it doesn’t work, I’m judged poorly, there’s a failure, it turns out that I don’t know enough, it turns out that I was too late, or someone takes my idea, I want to know that I gave it everything I had. I hope you do, too.
If you feel inspired to move past a self-fulfilling fear, reach out to me on Instagram and tell me what you’re saying yes to, even though you’re afraid. I’d love to hear about it and cheer you on.
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