Because you were too afraid to be seen, what have you ended up pushing away?
My friend and colleague, Kate Gerry held a workshop on, what she calls, the Entrepreneurial Edge. As she describes it, this Edge is a “character” that unbeknownst to us is holding us back. The Mean Bitch, the Overseer, or the Bureaucrat—these are archetypes from our childhood that we are afraid to become. As she taught: when we feel we need to avoid being these things, we actually push them away.
For myself, I’ve pushed away being a Big Shot. When I was young, I really wanted to be a famous graphic designer. There weren’t many famous female graphic designers in the ’80s; it was a male-dominated field. I remember feeling ashamed for having this desire; I never told anyone about it, and I didn’t do much to make it happen. I still struggle with the idea of being “too big” in my mind.
I’ve been facing fears around writing my book, growing my business, being seen and being visible, and expressing my opinions. A few months ago, I would sit down to write for my book and spend a paragraph or two describing how I didn’t feel I was enough. I had a million reasons why I didn’t feel worthy of sharing my ideas: I don’t teach in schools; I haven’t worked for big branding agencies. Why should I write this book?
After several weeks of this pattern, I came to realize that fear simply wants to be acknowledged. Now I can recognize when my fear is present, I feel it in my body, and I even name it. I don’t try to chase it off because it can never fully be chased away; it’s there, and some days it is fed by trying to make it disappear. Instead, when I acknowledge the fear and soften my body around it, the fear gets smaller. Less significant.
Now when the fear of not being enough is present, I write a few words—or a sentence—about it. That’s it! Then I proceed on with my writing for the day. It’s so nice to accept that the fear is there but it’s so much smaller than before.
How does fear stop you? You might have a big vision of what you want to share with the world, and you may not be clear on the steps you need to take—and then fear paralyzes you. You could have a great call with a client or a coach and think, ‘Wow, I am making so much progress,’ and the next day you’re absolutely frozen by fear and resistance! That fear is sneaky! And it has a subtle and quick way of growing larger than whatever we’re trying to make for a reason—our fears are trying to protect us.
Next time you find yourself frozen by fear, try letting it have some space. It may be smaller than you think.