One of the most frequent but least recognized signs that fear is holding me back is that I’m very busy but not getting to what really needs to be done. I somehow skirt around it, looking at or fixing stuff around the periphery of what I really want to make progress on. But it looks like I’m heading in the right direction. But looks can be deceiving, and in my case, they often were.
I didn’t always call it fear. Sometimes I was willing to acknowledge I was uncomfortable or uneasy or maybe a little insecure, but I rarely used the word fear. Procrastination, on the other hand, is something I could admit was a way of avoiding a person or event, although I didn’t always know why. I was more likely to grudgingly admit a rather obvious connection between my behavior and my avoidance of doing it. Hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock is a good example of how I repeatedly attempted to delay getting up and facing a difficult task or situation.
But when we’re busy doing things, it seems like we are going after what we want, it’s just taking longer, and there are things that seem very important to do first. Not that long ago, I would have spent loads of time tweaking my website instead of contacting someone whose opinion I thought would make or break an idea of mine.
Fear keeps us from focusing on what needs to be done in the moment. It’s like wearing the wrong prescription eyeglasses. We sort of know where we should be looking but it’s blurry and indistinct. And we don’t stop to think it might we what we’re looking through, our lens, that’s the problem.
Fear keeps us looking backwards into the past for a justification of avoiding doing things that we think are uncomfortable. It’s the way our wisdom naturally provided as an innocent way of keeping us from harm. It had its purpose in the past but now, if we want to move ahead in our lives, we can let go of.
Fear (to whatever degree we recognize it) keeps us busy avoiding what we fear and allowing us to focus on managing bits of the bigger picture that we already know make us feel comfortable.
When I began to look at what my busyness consisted of, I discovered a lot of activity ‘full of sound and fury signifying nothing’, as Shakespeare would say. That sound and fury was mostly in my head, as I recycled a ton of thinking about what might go wrong, which in turn triggered a lot of scary feelings. And logic couldn’t undo it.
What changed? I came to realize that beneath all that noise in my head there was a natural, ever present clarity and resilience that I’d been too distracted to notice. We’re actually all built this way, every one of us. Once I gave myself a chance to settle down, that clarity and resilience enabled me to see what needed to be done and what steps needed to be taken, one step at a time. This is available for you, too, at any time, anywhere.