It is the worst knot in my stomach. I am going to fail, or worse I will give up so that I don’t have the chance to fail. I am almost in tears just thinking about my fear of failure. It cages me, dismisses me, and cripples me. I know this fear all too well. It has been with me for far too long.
I don’t usually consider myself to be a fearful person. In most situations I am able to problem solve, communicate, and work through things that might be considered frightening. But the elephant in the room is also the biggest detriment to my life and well-being; I hold myself back from connecting, creating, and expressing because I am afraid.
What am I afraid of? I am afraid of not living up to my ideal, my greatest potential. I am afraid that I will be judged. I am afraid to put effort into something that is not the “right” thing to do or not my “purpose.” I am afraid that I’m not good enough and that since others are better at it, whatever “it” is, that it is a waste of my time. I am afraid that if I try and fail, that I am a failure.
Just being able to write and share my biggest fear makes it less scary. It brings it to the light of day. It allows me to see it for what it is and realize that it isn’t WHO I truly am. It is a thought pattern that can grab me and wrap me up in a straight jacket, but it still isn’t really me.
I often forget that I can observe the fear instead of letting it control me without question. I believe that Eckhart Tolle encourages us to say to ourselves, “Look at how afraid I am.” It gives us distance from the “I” that is afraid and presence with the “I” that is observing. When we are no longer living the fear, but simply observing the fear and accepting it as it exists, we take the power out of the fear and give the power back to ourselves in the present moment.
The fear in me says that I am undeserving and judged. When I say it like that, I realize how wrong the fear actually is. I am able to accept myself and know my true motivations. I can move beyond my story that I am a failure or whatever label my ego chooses. I deserve to follow my heart as does anyone else. I will not let any judgment shake my being. That label of failure will not define me.
Maya Angelou told Dave Chappell on Iconoclasts, “One of the things I’ve learned or am even still in process of learning is to don’t pick it up, and don’t lay it down.” When someone sings our praises, don’t add it to the description of ourselves because when that person criticizes us, we will have to believe that, too. We must step off the cycle of judgement and reject our belief that it defines us. Great advice especially if we can also apply it to our own self-judgment.
Each time that knot starts to form now, I will accept it for what it is, a story. That negativity builds when I am trying to reach outside of my comfort zone to express myself, to connect with others, and to create meaning in my life. I know in my heart that my motivations are pure. That is what I will focus on when that fear rears its ugly head.
Fear is a story I don’t have to believe. Labels and judgments are not my true self. Life lived in fear is to live without freedom.
It doesn’t matter if I fail. I am free.