I was recently asked the question, “What do you want your life to look like?” This was a question that I was excited to answer, I love to dream about all the cool stuff I want to do, places I want to see and adventures I want to have. I gave a long and detailed answer, listing out all these amazing things I hope will one day become my reality.
Then I was asked, ”OK so if anything was possible, what do you want?” Uh…What? I am sure I just answered that question. I was totally confused for all of about 30 seconds before I thought, Ok lets go with this. If anything was possible and I don’t have to think about how it would happen or even if it will happen, what would I want? Well, who knew that I thought it would be cool to write a book one day and do public speaking?! I honestly never even considered it before, I never ever thought that that level of success or recognition was meant for me. Then I wondered, why had I never thought I could achieve these things?
I realised that nearly all the choices I had made up to that point where career or business were concerned, had been made with the underlying feeling that on some level I’m not good enough. "Oh my god what if I fail and people judge me?!" Now this fear of failure and judgement isn’t something I carry around with me consciously 24/7. I am actually a pretty confident person. I’m aware of my strengths and my internal happiness gauge, which means that I’ll try new things if I think it’ll be fun (examples include learning to skateboard and play the drums for the first time at the age of 28….not simultaneously like some sort of ninja one woman band, that would be dangerous, impressive but dangerous!). I’m also not a stranger to changing career paths when something isn’t fulfilling me anymore and mostly, I’ll talk to just about anyone. The thing is that while I love learning and growing as a person there seems to be this fear monkey living deep inside my subconscious influencing my big life decisions.
At first I was like, “Goddamn you fear monkey, you’re totally sabotaging me!” I looked back at how this underlying fear had shown up without me realising it and guided me down certain paths, and now it was showing up and stopping me from even daydreaming in a big way! I decided that I could do without this fear monkey quietly calling the shots and began trying to push it away. The problem was that the more I tried to push it away, the louder it got and that just stressed me out. I came to understand that my fear monkey was, by it’s nature, scared. This prompted me to change the way I was dealing with it, I mean if someone came to you and they were scared about something you wouldn’t tell them to f**k off right? You would try and calm them down. This was the new approach I took with my fear monkey and it seemed to start working.
The thing is, our brains are wired for survival and get freaked out by unknown outcomes. This results in the emotion of fear stepping in to try and keep us safe. While most of the time we tend to view fear as a negative thing, it actually does it’s job pretty well. There have definitely been times in my life where fear has stopped me from putting myself in dangerous situations. Our ancestors used fear to stay alive when mortal danger was an every day occurrence. It’s just that these days, luckily for most of us, mortal danger isn’t an everyday occurrence but that part of our brain didn’t get the memo so it freaks out at a lot of stuff that it really doesn’t need to, resulting in us feeling frazzled, stuck and afraid to move in any direction.
The point is that we all have fear monkey’s, well I have a fear monkey, you might have a fear giraffe or a fear flamingo. Either way, we all have them. While our fear has the best of intentions it can be a major buzz kill and yelling at it just doesn’t help. Now when my fear monkey pops up I give it a pep talk. It goes a little like this;
“Hey buddy, you’re gonna need to calm down because you have zero chill right now. I promise you that we’re not gonna die. It’s cool, we’re just gonna try out this new thing and see how it goes. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t workout and maybe we feel a little silly for a bit but we’ll get over it. Can you do me a solid and just pipe down for a bit, K thanks, love ya!”
I encourage you to dream big, as if anything were possible and be kind to your fear monkey. Show it some love and it’ll have your back when you need it.