They are the reason your classes don’t fill up every session.
They are why you’ve never felt good enough to offer a workshop.
They are what stands between you and a successful, fulfilling career as a traveling performer.
They whisper to you when you’re most vulnerable. They fill your head with doubts and fears and ridiculous scenarios designed to keep you safe. To keep you playing small. To keep you from making your dreams come true. Because making your dreams come true involves risk. And risk is, well, risky.
These monsters are two of the biggest stumbling blocks any man or woman has standing between them and successfully reaching a goal. Whether that goal is having a successful business, or just getting up on stage for the first time.
You have to learn how to overcome these two because they are going to show up over and over again your whole life. And whether your dream is to become a world-famous dancer, an amazing mom, gardener or astronaut, you’re still going to have to deal with these two.
I’m going to give you power over them right now by telling you their names. They are Who am I? and What if?
Do you recognize them? They may be such old friends you don’t see how much damage they’re doing to your soul.
They whisper things like:
- Who am I to be a belly dance teacher?
- Who am I to star in my own show?
- Who am I to go ask for that restaurant gig?
- Who am I to raise my fees?
- Who am I to friend that famous dancer on Facebook?
- What if no one comes to my workshop?
- What if I forget the choreography?
- What if a student challenges me?
- What if I can’t find a studio?
- What if I can’t make enough money to pay the rent?
- What if this marketing stuff doesn’t work?
YADA YADA YADA…… blah, blah, blah
No one is immune. But you can learn their voices and their tactics so you recognize them when they show up.
Here are two ways to deal with the monsters
1) Notice when they show up (usually the same time every day or every month), thank them for their concern for your safety, then tell them you’re choosing to take the risk anyway. They won’t go away completely, and you don’t want them to. But you do want to be able to have the quiet confidence to move past them.
For me, my monsters show up after a long day’s work, usually after 6pm at night. They love to tell me I’ve wasted my time. That no one wants to hear what I’ve been working on. That no one will read my blog post. That teaching marketing to belly dancers is crazy.
Sometimes they quiet down before bed, sometimes not. But I know that’s when they’re loudest. And I know I’ll feel differently in the morning. So, I simply made a deal with myself not to listen to anything going on in my head after suppertime. It’s interesting, the bigger the risk I’m about to take, the louder the voices get. Sometimes they don’t show up for weeks, and that’s a signal, too. A signal that I’m playing it safe.
Maybe you already know when your monsters show up. But if you don’t, try keeping a list. Notice every time you start down that “who am I” track or the “what if” road. Write down the fear that’s coming up, and write down the day and time. After a while you’ll notice a pattern. When you know the pattern, you can control how you react.
2) Turn it around on them. Reverse the sentence. Reverse the thinking. When you hear “who am I” — turn it into “I am who”. And when you hear “what if (something negative)” — turn it into “what if (something positive).” It’s really fun once you get the hang of it.
So, when you hear this:
Who am I to have full classes every session? Suzie Shimmy doesn’t, and she’s been around for ages. There must not be enough demand in this area. I should just quit.
Turn it into this:
I am the woman who reaches out to everyone I can find and shares my joy of dance with those who need and want it. I am the woman who has full classes because I have so much to share and people are drawn to me. I should improve my marketing and reach out even more because I might be missing some people who really need this.
When you hear this:
What if no one comes to my workshop? That would be so embarrassing. People only go to workshops taught by celebrities. I can’t do this.
Turn it into this:
What if I reach so many people I have to start a waiting list? What if this workshop saves someone from injuring herself doing a movement wrong. What if someone finds so much joy in this workshop that she goes home and hugs her children with more love than they’ve ever known. I have to do this! (You can go crazy with this. Make up wonderful, rich scenarios. The bigger you go, the quieter your What If monster will get.)
These two monsters will run your entire life if you let them.
It’s so important that you learn to recognize and deal with these two. No matter what you want to do in life, if you don’t quiet the fears and doubts, you’ll never get started. Or you’ll get most of the way there and then quit.
They are a survival mechanism meant to keep you safe in the status quo. But humans naturally desire to grow and evolve and become better than we are. So, appreciate them for what they’re trying to do. But then gently hush them like a persistent child and move forward. Even if it’s a little scary.
Especially if it’s a little scary.
What do your monsters whisper to you that keeps you stuck? And how can you turn it around into a glorious uplifting statement? Leave a comment.