I’m very afraid right now. I have doubt in my mind. I’m trying to ignore it, to focus on my writing, to enjoy the day as best I can. But the fear is there. It’s like a black spot on my otherwise sunny day. It’s preventing me from seeing the true light.
My fear is this: That I’m setting myself up for failure.
Let me explain…
Welcome To My Fear
I’m a writer. A novelist.
As a writer, risk is a huge part of my work. I sometimes take years to write a novel. And the reality of writing novels is this: You don’t know whether your work is ever going to see the light of day.
Imagine working on something for two years only for it to come to absolutely nothing! Imagine if you went to work doing your 9-5 job for two whole years with absolutely no guarantee that you’d be paid for it.
Well. You’d probably stop going to work.
But if you did happen to carry on for two years, you’d soon become full of fears. What if my novel doesn’t sell? What if I’m wasting years of my life? What if, what if, what if…? The fear could easily stop you from ever succeeding. Fear is like that. It’s the great ‘Stop’ sign. Either you stop fear or fear stops you.
The same is true for all fears. Fears stop you from acting positively.
For example, let me tell you about my close friend Richy. Richy’s a smoker. He’s been a smoker for 12 years. He desperately wants to quit smoking. But every time he tries to quit smoking, he gets a terrible fear. “But what if I’ve already got cancer?” he says.
Obviously something’s ass backwards with his argument. “Well, if you’ve got cancer you should definitely stop smoking.”
“But then it’d be too late anyway, what would be the point in quitting?” he says, lighting up and puffing on a smoke.
I had a finger-clicking moment today while I was talking to Richy. I had a moment of realisation. Both mine and Richy’s fears are working in precisely the same way. I fear that my work will ultimately be pointless (because my book won’t be published). Richy fears that quitting smoking will be pointless because he might already have cancer.
“Don’t do the right thing,” says fear. “Acting positively is pointless. If you finish your book it won’t be published. If you quit smoking you’ll realise you already have cancer.”
What do you say to your fear when it’s making you think so negatively?
Turning Fear Upside Down
The key to combating fears like this is to turn fear’s argument upside down.
“If you finish your novel, it won’t be published anyway.”
“Oh, maybe you’re right, fear. Maybe my novel will never be published. In that case I’d better hurry up and finish it so I can get onto something else.
“Wait…wut,” says Fear, scratching its head, totally perplexed by your counterattack.
“Well, I mean, if I’m not going to make money from this book I’ll need to do something else, and to do something else I first need to finish what I’m doing.”
Suddenly I feel a lot more motivated to finish. And ironically, I feel motivated to finish because of fear. Fear has gone and made me do the right thing.
I wonder how Richy’s conversation with fear is going.
“Richy,” says Fear, “don’t bother quitting smoking. You’ve probably already got cancer anyway.”
“I’ve got cancer?” says Richy. “Then I’d better quit smoking, get myself to a doctor and start making my health a priority.”
“Wait…wut,” says Fear.
Yeah, Fear, we just whooped your ass!
Now, there’s one extremely important thing that happened here, one caveat to take away.
When you ACCEPT your fear, you conquer it
This is a little bit ironic. But the fact of the matter is that when you try and ignore your fear, it just takes control of you. Repressing your fear is like burying it deeper inside of you, where it affects your core.
When you accept your fear, when you allow yourself to acknowledge your fears, your able to get over them.
In our examples above, it’s only because I was willing to listen to fear telling me that “My novel will never be published” that I was able to say to myself “Well, I’d better hurry up and finish it then.” And it was only because of fear telling Richy “you’ve already got cancer” that he was able to day “Well I’d better quits smoking and start making my health a priority.”
Conquering fear is not that difficult, provided your willing to accept and acknowledge your fear to begin with. Once you listen to what your fear is telling you, you’re able to turn it upside down. “Your novel is pointless” becomes “Well I’d better finish it then.” “You’ve already got cancer” becomes “Well I’d better take care of myself then.”
Aceept your fear, turn it upside down, and suddenly you’ll find that your fear’s become a desire and a positive motivation.
Thanks for reading.
Hopefully this article has helped you to turn fear upside down, like this cat has. . .