Step Out (Part 2)
In Part 1 of this post I left off talking about fear being the biggest obstacle to us turning our visions of a dream life into a reality. I don’t just speak from a place of observation, but also from personal experience. Fear kept me playing small for most of my adult life. I kept telling myself that the thing I feared the most was rejection, but when I took a closer look at myself, I learned that I feared success even more than I feared rejection. And underlying the fear of success was the fear of disappointing the people I loved and the people whom I served. In the end, I discovered that I really had one, ultimate fear: I feared letting myself down and not being the person I say I am.
That last discovery was the most emotionally traumatic one for me to face. All of the other fears were merely extensions of and justifications for me clinging to the big fear. I’ve come a long way facing that fear head-on, but just as our muscles can develop memory from repetitive actions, we can have emotional memory to certain situations – even if we’ve overcome the fears used to hold us back. I still have self-sabotaging moments when I’m on the verge of a breakthrough, but I’ve learned how to immediately recognize what I’m doing and make the necessary adjustments to keep moving forward.
How did I transform the fear I felt into joy? How did I use fear to step out of my dream world and into world where my dreams do, in fact, become a physical reality?
There are rare times when fear can serve you. When I was in the worst years of depression, fear of the impact suicide would have on my family is what kept me alive. Later, fear of getting stuck in a mediocre existence overcame the fear of letting myself down. Both times, it was a bigger fear than the one holding me back that allowed me to shift my perspective. The shift was just enough to start moving in the direction I wanted to go. I was faced with a choice; and it was by choosing what I wanted more that I saw fear transform into joy.
Here’s another observation I’ve made: Our culture has convinced us that we have to go through lots of pain, suffering, and sacrifice in order to get what we truly want. That may be true from one point of view, but what if we were to take those concepts and reframe them using different words?
What if – with just the tiniest shift in perspective – we look at sacrifice as a question of what do we want more right now? (i.e. – I want to set aside more money right now for that new car, so I’ll buy the hamburger instead of the steak dinner.) What if, instead of seeing rejection, we see someone as not being ready right now to enter into a relationship? What if, instead of suffering because we’re attached to a particular outcome, we let go of our attachment and ask, “Can I change my approach?”
These aren’t new ideas. If you’ve ever taken a sales course you know that the most rewarded salespeople are the ones who look at things differently than their peers. Instead of a “no,” they see themselves one step closer to a “yes.” Instead of taking a perceived rejection personally, they understand that the “no” was directed to the product or service, not to them as people.
Here’s one last observation: “Yeah, but what if…” is a question that – for a lot of people – fuels fear and keeps them stuck. But what if you were to use that very question in a way that serves you?
Notice what I just did?
A tiny shift in perspective has the power to transform “What if…” into a question that creates infinite possibilities rather than infinite obstacles. “What if…” can become a personal game that opens doors and keeps you joyfully on a path of exploration, discovery, and creating anything you want. “What if…” has the potential of becoming the most versatile tool in your toolbox.
Remember that “reality” is the one we create. We can create it in our heads and stay there, or we can take our visions and build something spectacular by choosing to step out, deciding what we want more, and then taking the inspired baby steps that ultimately bring us joy.
Step out there, my friends. Don’t just “act as if.” Act… and watch what unfolds.
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, and the daily experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.