Dear Royal Subjects -
It seems often that the stars are aligned. I see my dear friends and mentors all talking about similar issues in the world when I am online or in person. This week's theme it seems is fear of failure, or fear in general. I have to say that I for one know that the reason for my procrastination has always been the fear of failure. I know that my fear of failure is actually rooted more in my childhood than in my adult life since as an adult I have succeeded at most of my quests. However, as a child there were stern and real consequences for failure. I remember one such incident, and it was one of the least violent. I was doing dishes and didn't get one of the dishes clean. The punishment was not to reclean that dish, it was to reclean every dish in the house. That particular failure never occurred again, but neither did many others. In an effort to keep my mother's wrath at bay and the physical violence at a minimum I would tend to go against what is my more nature tendencies prior to conditioning and I started to avoid anything I KNEW I could not do perfect.
This incident and many others were the root of my personal procrastination as well as my perfectionism. Now you might think that these two things do not connect. However, think about it. I will AVOID doing things that are not PERFECT in order to AVOID the consequences. For me the behavior became instinctual - kind of like self preservation. I would not get personally harmed if I was PERFECT. Fast forward 20 years. I spent 20 years trying to be perfect. I spent 20 years attempting to avoid anything that I might fail at. This really does surprise many that know me. I am often seen as bold, a risk taker, and someone that fights for whats right. However, I must also have extreme confidence in myself as I have to convince myself before I take this thing on that I can do it and I can do it PERFECT. As you might suspect that often leads to what I refer to as analysis paralysis.
The sad thing about this entire discussion is that I am not unique. I am not alone and this is the same story that many of your have to tell. It might have been your dad, or your teacher, or your sibling that put the 'fear of god' in you, but nonetheless we have had a habit of conditioning our children to "do it right!" I say heck with that! OK, realistically I WANT to say heck with that but I often find my very logical mind is overrun by my more instinctual and emotional side. So, if you are like me or you have had other circumstances that have caused you to react to fear by going into paralysis mode, what do you do? How do you ever try something new? So, for me there are really two things ... 1) I get mad as heck and take on the world like a mother protecting her babies ... I find this works on things that I am afraid of but that are negatively affecting others. I seems that my instincts to protect others and nurture override my desire to be perfect... thank goodness. However what is the second thing, the one that perhaps some of you might also be able to use to get over this ... well this disease of the mind ... to be able to rid you life of perfectionism and to eliminate analysis paralysis?
Well, it is simple. I trick myself. Yes, you heard me right. I trick myself. I have to play mind games with myself. Yes, I am serious. 1) First, when I get that feeling in my stomach of fear I self-talk my way into thinking it is really anticipation. You know, when you anticipate your first kiss - you are not running from that my dear. Instead of thinking, wow this one my get my butt kicked all around the house, I think wow this experience might uplift me. 2) Second, when I get that feeling in my stomach of fear, I decide to spend just 15 minutes moving forward even if I am scared. (www.flylady.net) Flylady always told me, us, that you can do anything for 15 minutes. Now, I understand this does not always work dear friend, but hey sometimes it does! So, if turning fear into anticipation does not work, then I rely on my willpower to just try something for 15 minutes.
Now you say to me, does this really work? Can this really change you and your behavior. I declare to you with a resounding YES, that YES it does and YES YOU CAN. I smoked for 10 years. I was afraid to quit, I liked having out at work with the guys that smoked. I liked being a rebel. I was afraid to tell my mom no when she offered me a smoke. Then, 12/23/2007 I said to myself, let's take this 15 minutes (and some nicorette gum) and see where it takes us. 1 year of nicorette gum later, I quit the gum. I am going on three years now as a quitter. Are there days where I want to smoke now? Actually, no. I have changed my behavior AND MY MIND. I think the mental diseases are the hardest to beat. I for one think that 15 minutes at a time I became a non-smoker.
Does trying to see fear as anticipation work? I say yes. I have had two children. The first child I was in labor for 29 hours. Yes, 29 hours. To say that when my next little one was arriving that I did not have have a tremendous amount of fear would be a lie. However, I also was anticipating bring home my little angel. Now of course I know that they were not letting me come home with the baby still in my belly and in this case there was no choice but to succeed, in this case I could have continued to go through the experience as I did with my daughter in extreme fear and afraid that something would happen. I chose to not be afraid, but to anticipate what the success of having my little on would be like. Guess what, my second child blessed him momma with coming in only 9 hours. Seems like I anticipated myself right into 20 hours less of labor!
So my dear friends, I say that we all have challenges, fears, and instincts to overcome. I challenge you to find the 'trick' that you need to defeat your mental disease, whatever it is. I have many more stories and many more disease and many more challenges that I could share. However, everyones challenge and everyones story is unique and scary and wonderful in different ways. Just because you didn't get physically beaten or abused does NOT make your situation less challenging or less scary of less impactful on your life. So, the next time you are paralysed with fear, I say try to trick your mind into thinking it is anticipation. If that doesn't work try it for 15 minutes, if that doesn't work - hey send me an e-mail and I will see if I can help you trick yourself some other way.
Blessings to you all,