Have you ever been so paralyzed by fear that you couldn’t take action, let alone think straight? Does your mind swarm you with fear, constantly imagining the worst case scenarios? Why can’t we give ourselves a break?
Even when we’re anticipating days that we’ve since longed for, there is always the fear of things not working out as we expected, or even worse, we fear everything blowing up in our faces.
It’s only natural since human beings are hardwired to scan for danger and prepare for the most convenient survival strategy. While this is our ancient repitilian brain keeping us safe, I think in our modern world, we have evolved beyond plain survival. I think we have evolved to strive for more since becoming more intelligent and ambitious.
We’re no longer here just to survive. We’re here to thrive. We’re here to live.
For years, I’ve silenced the sound of my life’s calling. Why? The typical excuses that writing doesn’t generate any profit. That it’s a hard market to break into. That I’m better off working a safe and secure day job.
Furthermore, for the past couple years in particular, I’ve had the intention to host writing workshops, but never had the nerve to host any because I doubted my own abilities. I didn’t think I would have the public speaking skills, let alone ability to create and present my work at these supposed workshops.
This past summer, after several months of taking a break from life and deciding it was time to revive my business, I felt even more resistance with the added fears of people being bored at my workshops. That it wouldn’t be anything new or compelling to them. Maybe I’d even speak too fast or be unable to articulate my incredible ideas, only to convey them in a way that makes them sound stupid. Or worse, having nobody come to my workshops, making all my hard work and anticipation a massive waste of time.
And it’s that kind of thinking that held me back for a very long time.
It even prevented me from booking my events for a couple weeks after creating my first ever Power Point presentation which would later serve as the introduction to my workshop series: The Four Pillars of Fiction.
After a while of obsessing over these possibilities and feeling intense anxiety, I finally got sick of myself. I realized it was all in my head and I was doing this to myself. The days and moments in which I thought this way, I was pretty safe from harm and embarassment living my life in solitude with the freedom to work or not to work.
What made me decide to finally start working was realizing I should stop preparing for the worst case scenario, and start preparing for the best case scenario.
I realized that if I were to host workshops at my self hating state, the way I would show up would reveal that to my guests. Why show up all strung out at an event I should be excited for?
It took some work, but I decided that I would focus more on how things can go right and stop doing what I’ve been doing all my life, which is obsessing over all the things that could go wrong.
Why not get excited and start fantasizing about the tremendous value I could provide to other writers? Why not get excited and start fantasizing about the connections I would make with wonderful people? Why not get excited and start fantasizing about the idea of stepping out of my shell and doing something I’ve been wanting to do for so long?
When I shifted my mindset from anxiety to excitement, things started to take an unexpected turn. I gained the confidence to work my ass off to craft the workshop introduction. I gained the confidence to book my workshops with a wonderful cafe that provides event space to the public. And as of today, I have hosted four workshops so far in the past two months, and in regards to those, I gained the confidence to show up and present my work.
And you know what?
It’s been the best time of my life by far.
Getting to geek out about writing for two hours, talk everyone’s ears off about all the things I’ve learned from this past decade of self directed study, and even more compelling is the participation I’ve gotten from workshop guests–it’s more than I can ask for.
When I see my guests’ eyes light up, or resounding oohs and ahhs when I’ve introduced a concept about writing that they haven’t previously thought of. When I see my guests’ hard at work answering the questions I pose at the end of each section of a presentation. All that makes my stress and anxiety go away, and makes all the hard work and dedication worth it for me.
And none of this would be possible if I hadn’t given myself the permission, the option, the power to prepare for the best case scenarios.
I prepared the presentation, thus ridding my fear of having nothing to talk about. I prepared the workshop dates, thus ridding the fear of not having a venue to express my work. And most importantly I prepared myself self-confidence, thus ridding the fear of showing up with intense anxiety and inability to deliver my work with the energy it deserves.
It doesn’t mean I’m completely free of fear and anxiety, but at least with this new mindset I’ve adapted, I’m better able to manage these limiting thoughts and feelings, and move toward my goals more.
When it comes to taking a risk and starting new adventures, my suggestion is to make the appropriate preparations for the best case scenarios. It doesn’t guarantee the best case scenarios will happen, but it sure as hell gets you close to it! And on the times you do experience the best case scenarios, it can actually be pretty intimidating.
But at least then you’ll be prepared for it. 😉