The Failure of Fear

The Failure of Fear

As any entrepreneur can tell you, running your own business can be a downright frightening thing at times. Times when you wonder whether you’ll be noticed or stand out from your competition. Times when you have to stand up in front of a group of strangers and try to explain what it is you offer – in a compelling enough way to attract clients or customers. Times when you hit the “publish” button on your blog or website and hope that what you’ve written hits its mark. Times when you wonder if you’ll be able to pay your bills, the rent and still have enough to buy groceries.

I’ve lived with fear a long time. It’s been such a close companion, for much of my life I didn’t even know it for what it was. I assumed it was normal to worry like crazy, feel anxious and berate oneself for failures. Most of us do it all the time, behaving as if we all should somehow magically be prepared for any possible contingency, every possible outcome. “What an idiot I am! Why didn’t I realize that was going to happen? I should have known! I should have seen the signs!!!”

Lately, I found myself worrying a lot about whether my business will succeed or fail. Am I doing everything I can to promote myself? Am I doing it right? Do I even know what I’m supposed to be doing? What if it doesn’t work? What if I can’t do it???

The questions were swimming around in my head, keeping me up at night and waking me up in a state of panic in the mornings. “I’ll be OK,” I told myself. “I have faith that it will work out; I’m in a learning curve, that’s all.” But no matter how much I tried to hush the panicky voices inside me, they only seemed to hang on tighter and get louder.

I finally sat down to confront them the other night. I wanted to truly understand why, no matter what I said or did, I still felt this anxiety. Finally, it hit me: what my fear needed to hear was confirmation that I have failed. I HAVE FAILED. I’m doing it even now. Oh, my. Wow. I am currently failing. My business success is not happening the way I wanted it to right now.  I’ve FAILED!!!!! Aaaarrrrggghhhhh!!!

And then I started laughing. Because as soon as I admitted to myself that I am failing, I have failed and I no doubt will continue to fail, I FELT BETTER. My anxiety lightened up a little. The problems I’m dealing with didn’t go away, but the panicky questions in my head – the constant stream of “what ifs?” – got quieter.

I’m still giggling a little as I write this. What a relief to remember that it’s OK to fail; in fact we do it all the time. How lovely to revel in failures and the lessons they can teach rather than shy away from them. Now that I’ve admitted to failing, I am open to possibility. Instead of the nagging “What if?” I can hear the exhilarating “What’s next?!”

Try it. Admit to your deepest fear. You can fail. It doesn’t have to be spectacular; it can just be. I wonder what will happen when you do.

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