HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND WORK THROUGH FEELINGS OF FEAR, SELF DOUBT AND UNWORTHINESS. A PERSONAL REFLECTION.
It's just one of "those days."
I woke up with a knot in my stomach and a tightness in my chest. My brain is scattered and fear underlies every thought that I have. My muscles are tense and my irritation level is at an all time high. I try to do things that make myself feel productive, but I feel stuck, frozen in the anxious cycle of thoughts swirling inside of my head.
As usual when I feel this way, my first thought goes to some sort of mood altering substance.
"A double shot of gin or an anti anxiety med (or both) will fix this in no time" says my mind. But, I know that those are just temporary fixes and that after the booze and/or benzodiazepine wears off, I will be right back where I started. Only I'll be slightly worse off because I'll have achieved nothing but the suppression of my feelings and added a feeling of guilt to the mix.
Knowing that my first line of defence will not actually help me in the long run, I wrap myself in the coziest blanket I can find, sit on my couch and begin 4-7-8 breathing exercises. A method of breath work I learned in Hawaii that forces the brain and body into a state of relaxation.
In, two, three, four.
Hold, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
Exhale, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
And repeat, and repeat, and repeat some more.
Ten minutes later, I am noticeably calmer and proud of myself for the option I chose. I then let my breathing return to normal and sit for another 15 minutes in meditation. As my mind clears and I observe my thoughts, I understand the source of my anxiety: I am once again overwhelmed with a seemingly insurmountable number of half finished projects begging to be completed. A bane common of many creative people.
To get some perspective on this, I step outside and immerse myself in nature. I breathe in the crisp winter air. I watch the chickadees flutter to and from the bird feeder. I feel the sun warm my face. I listen to the sound of tree branches rustling in the wind. As a result of this immersion, more clarity comes forth.
You see, I have a beautiful vision of what I want to accomplish in my life: A website full of useful blog posts, a multitude of books and journals published, art projects displayed that bring about joy and awareness, workshops held that share knowledge and build resilience, and motivational speeches that promote inspired action.
All things I know that I am fully capable of and yet most of these projects sit incomplete. Half finished pieces of writing fill my computer and a stack of note and sketchbooks chalked full of plans and ideas lie under the collage of post it notes stuck to my wall.
As I look deeper into this ongoing conundrum, I know it not the unfinished projects that are the problem. It is why they are unfinished projects that needs to be addressed. With this understanding I ask myself the question: what is stopping me from taking the necessary steps to complete these creative goals?
In waltzes the dreaded voice of self doubt and unworthiness.
"You're STILL here?"
This voice has been something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. And although I have made great progress in befriending this voice, apparently I have not yet been successful in convincing it to be fully on board with my goals.
Every time I try to move forward it counters from a stance of perfectionism, another common bane of creative people. "It needs to be perfect right from the start" it argues in my ear "and if it's not perfect, it's not worth publishing or showing."
"Seriously? Get over yourself!" is what I want to reply. But, I know that this voice is really just an aspect of myself that is trying to protect me.
The truth is that behind its high demands and strict standards lies fear. What it's really saying is "If it's not good enough, people won't take you seriously and you might fail at your goals."
I let that sink in for a moment.
Knowing that I am both determined and persistent in overcoming obstacles however, it bargains with me. "You can show your work once your website looks the way you want it to. Once your bio sounds professional. Once your writing is top notch. Once your social media accounts look perfectly curated. Once… Once… Once…"
Ugh and *sigh*
I am frustrated but I know that arguing with this voice is pointless because it's really just arguing with myself so I take a few minutes to really listen and consider what it has to say. From a place of understanding, I validate its concerns and then allow the other aspect of myself that wants to move forward to counter from a stance of love and positive outlook.
So what if my website doesn't look exactly how I want it to, yet. The truth is, I'm not sure exactly how I want it to look.
So what if I can't figure out what I want my bio to say, yet. I am still figuring out who I am.
So what if my blog posts aren't as fluid or articulate as I would like them to be, yet. I am learning how to become a great writer.
So what if my social media accounts don't look the way I would like them to, yet. I'm not even sure I want to commit fully to social media.
And finally, so what if I fail? I will learn in the process and use that experience to form new and improved goals.
I tenderly remind the voice of self doubt and unworthiness that I am growing. And while I am not perfect, I am perfectly where I am in life: a place of opportunity and potential.
I also remind it that the whole reason I created Discovering What's Possible in the first place was to document the process of my growth in the hopes to support, help and inspire other people on their own journeys. How can I achieve this if I am not being real about the process myself?
And so, I embrace this voice the way a mother would embrace a child afraid to take their first swimming lesson. I ask it to trust the process and remind it that in order to swim, one must first learn to tread water, no matter how scary and uncomfortable that might be. No matter wether we sink or swim, I will be right by it's side and we will be okay.
Then I walk to my desk, pull up a chair, and let these words flow from my fingertips. Because this is my story and it doesn't matter if it's perfect or not. I know that someone, somewhere can definitely relate. If that person is you, this is my validation and encouragement that you too, can work through your fears and discomfort to achieve great things in life. Be it via your initial goals, or your new and improved ones, it is all about embracing the journey.
Much love and thank you for joining me on my journey of discovering what's possible,
This Jessi Filmore, is without doubt, your very best written word. Period. Full stop.
You are learning to be gentle with yourself ~ a huge learning curve indeed.
In being so BRILLIANTLY observent, fiercely tenacious and so mind -blowingly open, you are both examining your life and inspiring others.
I am truly in awe of your journey. ?