The way I see it, defying the norm is also about defying your fear.
Because a lot of times, fears just suit up and look formal as “norms”. Also you not only have questionable norms in your outer environment that your fears latch onto like parasites. Sometimes you make up internal ones too and you need to challenge those.
(For example, things like- I am an introvert. Or I am an extrovert. I suck at sports. I am clumpsy and so on. Perhaps all your negative or limiting assumptions about you can be challenged and discarded slowly and steadily. Don’t attempt to eat the entire elephant in a go- Pick the ones that matter to you. Persist. Persist. Persist. And celebrate each step of your progress.)
Today, I am taking a special interest in “fears” even though Elizabeth Gilbert famously said: “Your fear is the most boring thing about you.”
In her book Big Magic she says- Take your fear along for the ride but just don’t let it drive the car.
In my personal experience, fear is self-indulgent. Fear is pretense. You are just kidding yourself. At some deep level you know you got this stuff, and yet you want to play the drama. You make it so real you frighten yourself!
And then it is very real. You shiver, you stammer. Your voice breaks up- there are tremors in it! You shake all over and you want to hold onto something. Watch it! Or you’ll trip and fall. God, you are so good at this! You look at people in the audience and you cannot see them. All of your focus is inside of you when it should be on the outside- This is not about you but you make it all about you. You hold the microphone awkwardly hoping it is not working, willing it not to work. This shouldn’t work because if it does, people are going to hear you. Will they laugh at you? Will they take you seriously? You definitely don’t want either, do you?
Does it sound familiar to you? It does to me!
I believe we experience fear in layers. Visualize concentric circles as in the image below. With each layer you shed, you become less tolerant of your drama and more of who you really are. More determined to get shit done.
I have been in and out of that circle atleast twice now.
I believe that fear is a process. You don’t get all the way into the core of the matter on day one. It is a journey. And your own journey will make a great story! So never fear! And yes, you may have a few rounds with in-and-out.
What each layer looks like:
First layer of fear:
When you are at the first layer of fear, you think you can’t do whatever it is you want to do. Now, sometimes you may need to choose “Not to do something”: you may have an inner knowing for no reason whatsover why something is not right for you. Heed that. Not doing something doesn’t automatically suggest fear! That is sometimes an empowered and even courageous thing to do. (The Power of “No” is a big deal and I’m sure you’ll find loads of written material about it.)
Versus you have fear/drama masquerade any number of sound practical reasons. Which is it?
Only you’ll know.
Second Layer of fear:
Doing a conservative version of what you know you want to do. Conservative has nothing to do with the money you spend by the way! You are treading the waters here (courageous you) giving in to the call (Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey stuff). You are highly sensitive to criticism. This is new for you, and you worry you are going to look like a fool. So you make as much of a fuss about it as you can.
Or you decide to enjoy making a fool of yourself, and you enjoy your novicity- You make it about play. Which is a good thing. If you genuinely make it about play, you’ll skip layer 3 and sooner or later have a smooth ride into the centre of you. (Layer 4)
Be serious about having FUN!
On the other hand, if you allow your ego to interfere with your pursuit like I did, not only is it not going to be fun, but you’ll have to step into all the layers and micro-layers before you step into the magical place. If you haven’t lost steam by that point!
I am not saying my way was the wrong way- It is certainly one way to burst through. For example, we are non-fashionistas turned Fashionistas. Venturing into Fashion through DFYNorm was strikingly new territory. How we tried to deal with that was by getting it all perfect and massive at the outset even if we had no practical clue how things would add up, what amount of time things would take to accomplish, what was doable in what time frame and so on. In our excitement and naivety, we laid out some challenging milestones to accomplish within a stunningly short amount of time. It took us on a steep and expensive learning curve which we know is great in the long-run. Yet, in the final analysis of the short term, we were playing a conservative game- We were afraid to be vulnerable. We put up walls and complicated the plot to satisfy our ego-appetites so that we would not look foolish! Because we wanted to get it so perfect the first time, we played it small! Not big.
Didn’t Steve Jobs famously say- “Stay hungry. Stay Foolish”?
And you know what else? There’s no such thing as getting it perfect the first time. Get over yourself!
Third Layer of Fear:
By this point, you are tired of playing it small. And that’s got nothing to do with money spent. It is about the courage to get into the heart of things. Sometimes the fear makes this space inaccessible.
At level three, you are ready for the full experience. This takes vulnerability folks!
I recognized the walls I put up between where I was and where I wanted to be. Fear was in the middle of it. And it had looked like solid practical stuff before. For true fulfillment, I wanted to create art with my hands and my heart.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” Anais Nin
The question I began asking was-
How could I do less to do more (of what I wanted)?
This is especially important to me as I am one of those people who depends on a strong inner voice. Without it, I am dysfunctional.
I do believe we all are capable of accessing this voice, but some of us need to travel a bit further along on our journey to arrive a deeper place of trust in ourselves. But when you do recognize that you have that distinctive and wise inner voice, the worst thing we can do is to overdo and lose track/connection with this voice. Suddenly you can’t hear it anymore because you have stepped into the ego and taken on too much. Only you’ll know what’s too much or too little for you.
By this point, you have burst out of your shell.. Tired of all nonsense and drama. At the core, you know this is much more than about you. You are not afraid of making mistakes because “mistakes” are just legitimate ways to reach the right answer (if there is a right answer). You are also desensitized to failure. You have been to the lowest low. It doesn’t matter now. All it matters is that you get it done.
You get grounded in your power and your purpose. This is not the kind of power where you float in the air building castles. This is serious business. There is no time to indulge your ego or fears. It is time to step out of your own way, and bring forth with as much integrity and honesty, whatever lies within. You do not clutter your channels of reception whatever you do.
What’s the difference between the third and the fourth layer?
The fourth is grounded and powerful. The third is one step closer- It is the intention. The beginning.
And the fifth layer is- well I don’t know everything do I? I am swinging between the 3rd and 4th layers… How about you? Where are you?
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