I was raised by pessimists. It was always easy to feel the fear. If there was anything worth doing it was always worth focusing on why it would never work, why it should never be attempted and why the status quo is the best possible way of life you could ever ask for – like cruise control for people.
Growing up, as I began to work through my insecurities and inability to join conversations, I began to believe that being an optimist was the only way to live. That somehow optimism at its highest form cancels out the inherent pessimist that lived within me.
But where to start? It was my first female boss, a Director called Rita, who sent me on an assertiveness course back in the 1980s and started my journey into the world of personal development.
I was empowered. I felt great and I wanted that to continue so I started reading self-help books.
I was 25 when I read the book “Fear The Fear And Do It Anyway” and saw it as a revelation.
That I could feel the fear (and there was plenty of fear to feel at the time) and go ahead and do the very thing I feared.
I discovered that fear would always be there and would never leave so rather than wait to overcome it I should act now in spite of it.
The book taught me that I needed to build my self-confidence bank full of positive examples of the times I went out and did it anyway. Doing something despite fear is what will build my self-confidence.
I have lived with the lessons of that book for the last 23 years. But something happened recently to make me doubt everything I was doing.
Deal with it already
I was hit hard in the recession. Losing investments and having to start again. I questioned why, despite all these beliefs about focusing on my desires, I ended up living in the very way I didn’t want.
Deep down I had questioned my ability to succeed but I had blasted them away by focusing on the positive. Or so I thought.
The optimist in me told me not to listen to that silly old pessimist who didn’t know any better. Yet years later my life had become an example of everything I feared, not of what I desired.
So recently I questioned myself.
What if feeling the fear and doing it anyway meant I was ignoring something significant?
How am I to achieve anything if deep down I feel I can’t do it. I am not able to achieve what I want to achieve?
To make things even worse as I continued on my personal development journey I attended workshops that I told me I should set goals that scared me and I did.
In fact I was so scared that many of them really didn’t work out at all.
What I ended up with as a result is the very thing I feared. Because I didn’t deal with my fear. Because I decided to go out and do it anyway.
I created a life based on all my fears.
In setting these goals and feeling the fear have I just plastered over what I really need to deal with to succeed?
I began to question personal development and my use of it. I began to question the feel the fear book (rather than my interpretation of it), I began to look at things like the law of attraction that says what you desire can be yours if you believe.
Then I realised something important based on people in my life. I have many people in my life who neither believe in or entertain the notion of the law of attraction and God. In their world both are man-made institutions created to make money and keep people dependent on the “master” of these disciplines.
They have no belief in these types of institutions. Neither the self-help one or the religious one and yet their life is one of success, abundance and a strong belief in their ability to achieve. They don’t visualise or affirm something happening they merely work pro-actively and get things done.
It has made me finally understand that belief is not enough. Me believing that what I desire can be mine IS NOT ENOUGH – not if subconsciously, deep within me, I didn’t believe I could make it happen.
If my fear was bigger and deeper than my desire then it would never happen.
What I have to believe is that I can actually do what needs to be done to make what I desire become mine… but I had this fear inside of me, it kept telling me I couldn’t do it. I ignored that fear and went ahead and did it anyway.
The pessimist within told me all the things that would go wrong…and I plastered over that by doing it anyway.
By doing so what I bought into my life were my deepest insecurities and fears. Not my desires.
Desires are not enough
If I really do believe that something won’t work, shouldn’t I really be dealing with those deep inner fears and insecurities?
It is not enough to want something badly. It is not enough that I put my faith in being able to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Don’t get me wrong. That book changed my life for the better. It helped me develop a strong self-confidence that I had never known in my life.
However, at some point I needed to go take a look at what was scaring me and why – I never did that.
Desire without a strong internal belief in myself will never work.
And if I have a strong internal belief in my ability to make something work. When I work through my insecurities/fears so I understand them and use them as a positive force to move forward. What do I need personal development/the law of attraction (and God) for?
That’s a question I will consider in the next blog post!
Becoming a realist
As I head towards 50 I think I am becoming a realist. Life not working out the way I wanted it to is not down to anything but my own subconscious beliefs.
That means when I change my beliefs I make things happen. Not LOA and not God (ohhh… scary ground being covered here)
” REALIST: a person who uses facts and past events, rather than hopeful feelings and wishes, to predict the future.”
All I have to do now is work on my own inner fears. I have to set my goals, work towards my goals and adjust my plan if things are not working out.
There is nothing remotely spiritual about that plan of action at all. It is all very practical and very real.
Maybe, like my first assertiveness course, I have gone from pessimist to optimist and becoming a realist is me finding my balance.
There is the Pessimist who believes the glass is half empty.
There is the Optimist who believes the glass is half full.
Then there is the Realist who knows it is just half a fucking glass!
I’m up for living the next 50 years of my life as a realist. 🙂