Yesterday, Lindsey and I set our intentions for Stories of Hope. As we meditate on what we hope for the future of the business, I have been thinking about what it looks like to set goals for ourselves. I am a natural goal setter. I find myself always striving for something new, challenging and creative to endeavor. This is a big reason why I left my stable job in community mental health in order start a group practice. It was a goal, and now was the time. This is not to say that this is an easy process. Never in my life have I taken such a big risk. As of the writing of this blog, I honestly have no idea if my investments of resources will pay off. There is most certainly fear in the midst of obtaining this goal.
One of the biggest roadblocks I have noticed in the lives of people I work with is fear. I have seen time and time again where fear of the unknown, failure, success, etc. can stop a person from even making a goal for themselves. In my previous position, I would ask people “What would your life look like if you reached a place where you didn’t need therapy.” While some were able to process this, I was shocked at the number of people that would have a panic response at the mention of not having that support. I did not get into this field to develop dependent relationships on me. This response would both frustrate and bewilder me.
Fear is paralyzing for people. It can keep us from setting those goals and intentions in the first place. It can lead to us sabotaging ourselves in the process. To get over fear, we first need to recognize its presence. Often times, we feel the real and immediately try to rationalize it away or sweep it under the rug. In college, one of my favorite professors would say “Emotions are neither good nor bad. They are there for a purpose. They teach us something.” Fear is there to teach us those aspects we need to pay attention to. When it’s a giant grizzly bear, we pay attention to how to get away safely. When its our life goals, the attention may not be so clear. I always encourage my clients to pay attention to their thoughts. Be in the moment as much as you can. What pops up is important and can tell us something about ourselves.
Once you recognize the fear and what it is trying to tell you, then take an honest look at the fear. In my life and the lives of my clients, I find most fears are things we made up in our heads and have little basis in reality. The absolute words happen a lot in fears (“I will NEVER be able to do this.” “I’m ALWAYS screwing things up.”). At this point in the process I start to figure out if these thoughts are founded in facts. I ask my clients “Has there ever been a time you were successful at ANYTHING?” The answer is always yes (sometimes it takes some digging to get to this realization). Looking for those exceptions to the story is so important in overcoming fear. By identifying those times that we did accomplish our goals, we can start to realize that failure is not absolute. We can succeed.
In the Stories of Hope office, we have a sign hung high for all of our clients to see. “Be Brave.” These simple words carry so much weight. It is not enough to recognize our fear, learn from it, and stay put. We must overcome our fears in order to accomplish our goals. This means action. To me, this is the hardest part of making lasting changes to our lives. We can know all the correct answers, but if you don’t implement the life lessons then your fear will always be there. We must take a leap in order to succeed.
By recognizing the fear, thinking them through and being brave enough to move forward, we are empowered to make lasting changes to our story. Sure, fear is always going to be on part of the process. Our bodies are built to feel fear. However, the end result of the risk can turn out to be so much more rewarding.
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