“The brave may not live forever, but the cautious don’t live at all." – Ashley L
Today I’m going to show you how you could be stopping yourself from getting the thing you want most in life and what to do about it.
I sometimes describe my mission with the work I do as helping people get so far out of their own way that they can do all that they’re capable of doing and be all they’re capable of being.
Because when it comes to creating a life you love, the thing that’s standing in the way is always yourself. Every. Single. Time.
That goes for me too, by the way.
This last week, in preparation for a new programme I'm putting together, I’ve been reading back through all my coaching notes.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had conversation after conversation digging into people’s biggest dreams and deepest fears.
And whilst no two dreams are ever the same, the desire behind the dream often is. And, whilst people articulate their deepest fears in different ways, there’s a very common thread there too. I guess we’re not so different after all.
So what are they, these commonalities in our greatest desires and deepest fears?
Well, over and over again what I hear most often is some variation on this:
“I want to reach my potential.”
Apparently, there’s a deep desire in the people I’m talking to to somehow get closer to this intangible sense they feel inside themselves: The sense that there’s something more that they’re here to do in their lives: The sense that they’re capable of some greater impact in the world: The sense that their true self hasn’t yet been revealed.
I know it, that feeling. That sense. That thing we can’t quite describe. It calls to us. It tugs at us. It won’t leave until we’ve listened.
And at the opposite end, when I ask people what they’re most afraid of, this is what comes out again and again:
“I’m afraid I’ll end up alone.”
It’s not a surprise to me that this keeps repeating itself. Back in 2013 when I was undertaking training at the Actors’ Temple in London, I remember our class tutor asking us what we were most afraid of. One by one he went around the room. And one by one, all bar one of us gave the same response:
“I’m afraid I’ll always be alone.”
I remember being shocked at the time. There I was, amongst a group of professional actors, all of them beautiful, intelligent, talented people. And yet beneath it all they had exactly the same fear that I did.
But reading through my notes, here’s the thing that I hadn’t quite seen before but suddenly seemed to speak to me from the pages with such clarity. Our greatest desires and our deepest fears are linked. And they’re linked in such a way that it’s keeping the things we most want out of reach.
Here’s the pattern I see repeated:
Greatest desire: I want to reach my potential and live my best life.
Deepest fear: I’m so afraid of ending up alone.
Link: I believe that if I go in the direction of my potential or the thing I most desire, I will fail, be rejected and end up alone.
We’re afraid that our deepest desire will actually be the cause of our deepest fear. Tweet that.
Where does that leave you?
Stuck. Stagnating. Frustrated.
You don’t go after the thing you most want because you’re afraid it will bring you the thing you most fear.
But here’s the thing. In the avoidance of the thing you most fear – rejection and being alone - that’s exactly what you end up with. Click to tweet.
When you don’t move in the direction of your deepest desire or your potential, you’ve already rejected yourself. You’ve already said, “I’m not good enough. I can’t do this.” And through that rejection of self you get exactly what you don’t want: The experience of being alone.
And whilst this may not always translate in a literal sense of being alone (you may still be surrounded by people and have relationships of all kinds), you will still feel alone in a very real way.
Because when you choose to stay hidden, when you choose to stay comfortable, when you choose not to take the risk, when you choose not to speak your truth, you deny yourself the possibility of being truly seen and embraced for who you truly are.
And when you do that, no matter how many people you have around you, no matter how many relationships you have, no matter what you achieve in life, you will still feel alone.
So what do we do about it?
People sometimes call me fearless.
In truth, I’m afraid of everything. And yes, I’m also afraid of being alone.
The only thing I have going for me is a commitment to courage. A commitment to see what scares me more than anything and then move in that direction anyway.
Scared. All the time scared. But always committed to courage.
To get what you most want you must be willing to risk it all.
You must be willing to put yourself out there.
You must be willing to speak your truth.
You must be willing to lower the shield from your heart.
You must be willing to be vulnerable.
You must be willing to risk rejection.
You must be willing to risk failure.
And yes, you must be willing to end up alone.
And if you’re lucky, as you step into that space of risk with all the courage you can gather, you might just get everything you ever wanted, and more.
Or you might not.
But as Seth Godin writes in The Icarus Deception:
“But the one thing I wish I had known then was that whatever happens, things are going to be fine in the end, that the pain is part of the journey, and that without the pain there really isn’t a journey worth going on.”
Over to you
Blog posts without comments are like Cadbury's Creme Eggs without the creme centre - empty, hollow, meaningless. I really do rely on you to bring some colour to my terribly mundane articles, so please add your voice below and share:
- The biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what the result was.
- One risk you know you need to take but you’re scared of taking.
- Any of your personal thoughts on my ramblings in this post.