I am paralysed by fear and overwhelm.
I don’t know where to start, so I avoid.
I scroll social media. I get yet another cup of tea. I convince myself I will settle down this time if I have a chocolate biscuit, because obviously I’m hungry.
I have never been so up-to-date in my day job’s boring paperwork. I am running out of justifiable procrastination tools.
I promise myself I will do “the thing” (your thing will be different from my thing, so let’s not let it get in the way of a good idea and story) when I have cleaned my desk and the oven and the windows. You can insert your thing avoider here, too.
What am I scared of?
I sit very still. I take a breath. I listen…
I want the thing to be so good, so different, so spectacular, so perfect that it terrifies me. I want it to be so watertight that I am then safe. Safe from criticism, judgement, and feeling not good enough.
Will I be at the mercy of all of these feelings if I do the thing and put it out into the world? Well, it’s possible. We can’t please all the people all the time; there will always be naysayers and critics—sometimes the critics criticise for their own sense of self-inflation and holier-than-thouness.
I bargain, “What if I just let go of the thing as a bad idea, a flight of fantasy? After all, who am I to think I can have/do/be the thing? F*ck you, thing. You are persistent, aren’t you?”
It’s still there in the pit of my stomach, asking me to breathe life into it.
I compare; my mind chatters, “Yours will never be as good as her thing, so why bother?”
I bargain again, “So what if I got the thing so shiny good that it was the best it could be to go out into the world? Then what?” I will measure my self-worth on the number of likes, and God forbid the pleasure of how many shares the thing gets, which means it’s okay if people are sharing their joy of my thing. Oh smite me, then there is the constant hitting of refresh and only a few likes and not enough shares to convince my fragile ego of my virtues. What do I do now when it’s been confirmed that my thing is shite?
I tell myself that at least now I know that the thing is shite, so give it up and go and get a hobby you can’t go wrong with—read a Mills & Boon, surely I couldn’t screw that up.
“What if…”—insert your own catastrophic thought process, for example, I’ve spent all this money building the thing and no one likes it and I’ve wasted my time and money. Play that one out to its death knell. So what if they don’t like it, use it, see the value in it? What’s the worst thing that will happen? Will I die from it? No, so I guess everything after that is manageable if I trust my capacity to pivot one step to the left (“it’s just a step to the left and move your knees in time”—sorry, couldn’t help the Rocky Horror reference).
Resilience: (noun): the ability top recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
Perhaps if I look at Kmart online I will find this magical noun in the fairy light aisle. Whoops, more procrastination.
If my thing fails and I get tough and bounce back, I am resilient, right? I can trust my capacity to cope, right?
There are so many historical stories of gurus like, well Colonel Sanders, being knocked down a myriad of times for the Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe, and look at that guy rock now. Well, maybe not right now; the guy died a while back. But we’ve all heard the sage advice that if you get knocked down twice, get up a third time.
There’s something to this resilience thing, because to get up again after that second punch means you’ve got to either have a pain fetish, are really thick for lining up again, or here’s a thought, you genuinely trust your gut, your capacity, your North Star, your pilot light, God, or whatever your thing needs you to trust in order to survive.
Some may say, “Well I have to get up again. I have bills to pay and I have no choice.” But that’s arguable because you could quit the thing and get a job and stop the sadistic, bondage behaviour that keeps you tied to the thing. But you keep going.
So what if you just didn’t put so much of your self-worth into the thing and just did/wrote/made/painted/filmed/grew/cooked/said the thing and that’s that? What if you reminded yourself that the thing is not you—the thing is just that, a thing.
If folks judge you on the failure of the thing, they will also judge you on the success of the thing and even just the existence of it. So be it. Nothing positive can come from the roller coaster ride of jubilance when the thing is well received, then the loop of disappointment when the thing gets only likes from your grandma.
Do you like the thing? Did you love making it, thinking about it, and loving it into life? Can that then be enough?
Yep, don’t get me wrong—a big deposit to my bank balance because people love the thing and want to purchase it would be delicious and possible if I keep loving and cajoling my joy of the thing into existence. People will share the energy and the cash (whoops, not very zen of me).
So what’s the secret to overcoming the paralysing fear of criticism, judgment, rejection, not good enoughness, and the overwhelm when looking at the thing?
Nike said, “Just Do It.” Keep doing the thing if it brings you and only you joy. Don’t do it for anyone else, don’t do it under pressure or for a specific narrow outcome, like fame, self-worth, love, or money. Do the thing because you like it.
There. I did the thing and I put it out into the world and I am not jumping on the likes and shares roller coaster.
I like doing the thing.