“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
― Audre Lorde
You know it’s coming. The day you speak your truth to someone who’s hurt you or who you’ve hurt. The day you leave your job because you just can’t do it another day. The day you recognize an addictive behavior and the need for support. The day you realize that you risk rejection by sharing more of who you really are but you just can’t hide anymore.
So many of us are plagued with anxiety when we anticipate a storm just beyond the horizon. We get afraid of being creative because perhaps along the way we’ve been programmed to believe that writing a poem, dancing a dance, or telling a joke are not a productive use of time.
We get afraid of leaving that job, finding a profession that’s more aligned with our values because of our fear of disappointing others. And the bottom line is, few can afford to pick up and go in hopes of discovering that perfect fit.
We get afraid of telling a friend that racist, homophobic jokes are not okay and are in fact, hurtful. We get afraid that the backlash, being labelled as overly sensitive, will make us feel the shame of rejection.
We get afraid of telling our partners what we hope for, what we want and need, afraid to risk that relationship.
We are afraid to change, afraid to confront, afraid to make a move…We are afraid we will lose, friends, a way that others are used to seeing us, money, reputation, community… And most importantly, perhaps on some deep level we are afraid that if we make the “wrong” choice the ensuing storm will be catastrophic.
I am here in Raleigh, North Carolina and for the past couple days we have been preparing for an everchanging storm. I’m sitting in my parents’ living room, half listening to the news.
A common thread among the clients I work with is a fear of making change or a different choice. Often what comes up is an intense anxiety of what the consequences will be. What storm will I face as a result of doing this thing differently?
As we’ve been preparing for this storm, I’ve thought about how I might support folks in doing their planning for those stormy moments in life.
So here it is:
Get clear on what is most important to you. Not sure? If you are feeling like absolute crap at your job/relationship/environment identify what is that you don’t like.
Get clear on what is most important to you. Not sure? Here, notice what moments bring in fulfillment, a sense of satisfaction, perhaps even a tickle of joy. Identify what it is you like.
Make a decision based on what’s most important to you and your life. Aim high. If you aim to co-create relationships built on warmth and closeness, remind yourself of that when you are tempted to isolate. Aim high and decide.
Explore your options for exercising your decision. Today we shopped for flashlights but they were all sold out. So my options were LED candles. I got those. We may have few options or several. Explore them. What are the pros and cons of each? What does your heart say? Your mind? How does each option feel in your gut?
Execute your plan. Plan what you will do and how you will do it. Get into a buddy system. Who are the folks that will support as you do this really difficult thing? What do you need to do to take of yourself as you do this thing?
For example, as we’ve been preparing for the storm, we’ve loaded up with water, batteries, food, playing cards. What do you need to prepare? What objects, words, reminders of your worth, life goals, whatever it is, what do you need to do to prepare for whatever storm may come as a result of your change?
At the end of the day, you may be surprised to find that the storm is not as bad as you imagined.