About two months ago I got back the first round of edits on my latest book, Fear to Flow: How to Give Up Your Struggle and Allow Life to Unfold Perfectly. I’ve written books before so am familiar with the editing process. Typically I dive right into the edits, but not this time. No, I didn’t want to open the file. Despite the positive commentary from my editor in the original editorial assessment and also in her email to me with the first round of edits, I was afraid to open the document. This book is different than the others. It’s more raw and vulnerable for me. It covers a time of deep grief and loss in my life, which led to significant and beautiful transformation; however, sharing my story in such an honest way brings up fear. Fear of rejection, what others will think, and disapproval, to name a few.
Why will anyone care?
What if it’s not good enough?
What if no one reads it, ever, except my editor?
Why did I waste my time?
Part of my concern was because it had been several months since I actually read the book. It’s not necessarily an easy book for me to read, as it brings up a lot of emotions that I processed while writing the book, which aren’t fun to relive. I also knew that since I wrote my last sentence (last July) and since I last read the manuscript a few months prior, I continued to change and evolve.
What if what I wrote about didn’t apply anymore?
What if it didn’t even make sense to me anymore? How would it make sense to others?
I was so distraught about going through the book and the edits that I had myself convinced I’d made a mistake and shouldn’t be publishing it. I told my husband I did not think it was publication worthy and might just pull the plug. He just listened, knowing that’s usually the best way to guide me through a semi-meltdown – just let me spew about it, without interfering, until I work it out internally.
The entire scenario was ironic too. My book is titled Fear to Flow and is about my personal story of going from living in fear to living in the Divine flow of life. It also contains tips for readers to learn if, when, and how they might be living life based on false fears, and, how to move through and manage these fears.
Here I am writing a book about moving out of living in fear, how to do that, and how amazing it is when we STOP living life from a false-fear perspective and yet, I was allowing fear to stop me dead in my tracks, again! Ironic? Yes. But I’m human and my journey continues… the choice to not let fear and self-doubt stop me continues to be a daily decision.
It took ten days until I opened the edited manuscript. Ten days of allowing fear-based thoughts of self-doubt to run through my brain. Ten days of making-up stories in my head that created my fear. Thank heavens it wasn’t ten months or ten years. Ten days is huge progress, which will be more obvious after you read the book! And, of course, as with most fears, they weren’t real. They were stories I was telling myself. They were False-Evidence-Appearing-Real. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It wasn’t bad at all. (It usually isn’t.) Were there things I wrote in the book that were no longer relevant? Yes, and I updated them. Were there things that no longer fit the story and guidance I want to portray through the book? Yes, and I removed them. And I added new more relevant things that further enhanced the book. After all, that’s what good editing is about – enhancing what’s already there. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful editor.
Fear can and does keep us from doing many things we want to do – it keeps us stuck and holds us back. It also can keep us from fulfilling our dreams and living our most authentic lives. Writing this book and getting this message out on how to move through and let go of fear and step into living in your authentic natural rhythm of life- your flow- is something I’ve wanted to do for the past 18 months. Fear could certainly keep me from fulfilling that desire and seeing that dream into reality. It was the way I lived most of my life and is actually a comfortable path to retreat back to. It was easy to come up with all the reasons why I should not publish the book and I could have believed all of them to be true, even though deep in my gut and heart I knew they were not – they were just more false evidence appearing real. False fear. It can keep us stuck, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled, but only if we let it. So, how do you NOT let it?
First, ask yourself: what are the fearful stories you create in your head that hold you back? Don’t try to hide them – admit them. Even if it’s just to yourself, there’s power in admitting what we’re afraid of (see my recent blog post on Why We Don’t Talk About What We Fear for more about this). Acknowledgement is the first step of moving through the fear. Once you name it and claim it, the fear loses some of its power over you. The next thing to do is write down every awful thing that might happen if that (false) fear (the story you’ve created in your head) came true. Just get it all out on paper… that’s the second step.
The third step is to determine what you’ll do if all those awful things came true. What would you do if (X) happened? If you lost your job? If your spouse left? If your latest business venture failed? What would you do…? Write it down.
Typically we discover that we would survive. We would rebuild. We would recover. It might hurt for a while and we might feel disappointed or sad or angry but, ultimately, we’d survive. What we also discover is that the story we’re telling about what we fear is typically worse than the actual fear coming to fruition.
These three steps, (1- Acknowledge your fear; 2- Write down all the awful things that would happen if the fear came true; 3- Write down what you would do if the fear came true. What action would you take?), represent a quick process to start to move through fear. This is a “light” version of what I write about in the book. Some fears that have been with you a long time (like those I write about in the book) take longer to work through but, starting with these steps is a sure way to stop allowing fear to drive your decisions and behavior. It is a way to not allow fear to keep you from your dreams. As George Addair said in his well-known quote, “Everything we want is on the other side of fear.” Don’t let it keep you from living the life you most want to live.