Remember in every episode of Scooby Doo, at the end, the kids would catch the scary ghost that had been haunting them, only to pull off his mask and discover it was just some guy, pretending to be a scary ghost?
In my countless sessions with clients, conversations with friends, private whining dates with my own journal and years of being in circles of truth-telling women, I’ve noticed something interesting.
All too often, fear holds us back from what it is we want to be, do or create. It is fear that holds us back from letting go, from moving forward, fear holds us back from taking chances and plunges and leaps. Fear gets in the way of our dreams and desires. Fear keep us stuck and small and stagnant and the same.
Yet, in most of those cases, our fear knows that if it came right out and said, “hey you know what, I’m afraid, and here’s why…” you very likely would see it for what it was and blow right past it. And fear’s motivation is only trying to do its job, after all. Fear wants to protect you, guard you, keep you safe, keep you stuck, keep things the same.
Fear has picked up some tricks on its journey. It’s clever. It’s strategic. It has to be. So in order to get you to pay attention, in order to get you to stay “safe,” here’s what fear does: it disguises itself as other things.
Do you have a desire or dream or change you haven’t been able to create movement with, for one reason or another?
See if you recognize any of these disguises fear uses, when it comes to your dream…
- Disguise #1: Preparation – Classes, courses, certifications, research, prep work, organizing, re-organizing, re-re-organizing. You know what I’m talking about. The problem with these is that just when you achieve one level, you quickly convince yourself that there is something else you need to know or achieve or accomplish to do the dream. I once worked with a client who was stuck in a standstill with her new business launch until she got a new set of office shelves. Shelves. Her dream was on a shelf because of shelves.
- Disguise #2: Procrastination – Once I finish this Netflix binge, I’ll work on that business plan. I would do that tonight but I am beat. I’ll get to that thing tomorrow. Or the next day, but soon! Procrastination has a nice payoff too. It’s a lot easier to put things off then to do them. And by easier, I also mean “safer”.
- Disguise #3: Limitations – A wise friend once said to me “argue for your limitations and they’re yours.” it was a punch in the gut at the time, because I was literally arguing for my limitations when she said it. That’s the thing about limitations. If you want ’em, you got ’em. They certainly love being coddled. In fact, they absolutely BLOSSOM with attention. I hear them all the time. I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m too fat. I’m too broke. I’m too busy. I’m too this, I’m too that. Our perceived limitations quite quickly become TRUTH. If we choose for them to be. Or… we can be wild and crazy and blow right through them. I’ve seen that a few times too. I’ve even been lucky enough to have done it.
- Disguise #4: Blame or finger-pointing – This clever disguise of fear likes to convince you that it’s somebody else’s fault that you are not doing what it is you came to do. That if it weren’t for that crappy husband, boss, mom, dad, you’d be doing your dream. If it weren’t for THEM, you know… THEM, you’d be different. You’d change. You really would.
- Disguise #5: Busyness – We all juggle a lot. I get it. But here’s the thing. The obligations, commitments and time bandits in your life because you allowed them in. You chose them. You actually did. You have two choices here. You can continue to use busyness as a convenient hiding place for fear. Or you can make some space. Commit to your desires. Squeeze in five minutes a day. Do whatever you can. So often we think that soon, just around the corner, life is about to get way less busy. Guess what? It does not. We make the time for what’s most important. If you don’t like the way you spend your time, if the way you spend your time is interfering with a dream, make some cuts. Delete. Re-org. And if you still can’t find the time, chances are, it’s fear making sure you stay nice and busy because it’s safer, and you get to stay the same. Remember, fear loves that.
In which of those five do you identify your fear in disguise? It’s time to shine the light at them. Reveal them.
Think back to when you were a kid. Sometimes simply shining the flashlight on the scary monster in the dark room proves that it’s just a sweater on a chair.
Shine the flashlight on your fear. And then maybe, you can choose differently. One choice at a time.
But first we must call it them out. Nothing changes til we call them out. Maybe a journal entry like this…
“I see you, Fear! Disguising yourself as _____ and ____. How clever and wily of you. Sadly though, I’m on to you. I’m hip to what you’re throwing, I’m no longer fooled by your conniving ways. I get it. You want us to stay safe. You want me to stay the same. I understand. But here’s the thing. I can’t. So just to give you a heads up, I’m going to be _______ and ______ in the coming days. Starting now, I’m also going to be ________.
I’ve got dreams. Desires. Plans. Big things to do. You no longer get to be in charge.
Your services are no longer needed.”
Are you ready to do that? There is no time to lose. The time is now. The world needs your gifts, your message, your smile, your creations, your song, your dance, your ministry, your magic, your mischief, your heart, wide open, spilling forth.
And Fear is just going to have to deal with that.