May 17, 2016 by Dymphna 9 Comments

When you’re afraid of the thing you love


If you’re feeling blocked, maybe fear is the gateway into the life you love.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but humans are pretty strange creatures.

We are a mess of contradictions and competing drives. How we get anything done amazes me.

When you look at the successes of human civilisation in this light, it’s pretty amazing.

(It also puts our failures into some perspective too.)

And the more I work with people (and I mean really work with people – getting past spreadsheets and feasibility studies into questions about what you really want out of life) the more messy we all seem.

And one of the most peculiar things is this phenomenon that we seem to love the things we fear most.

I’m not talking about a pathological fear of tiramisu or anything like that. I’m talking about the way the directions we most want to open into in life, are also the ones that scare us most.

Think about ‘change’ for example.

If you’re one of my students, imagine you’re five years down the track. You’ve got a solid performance portfolio behind you, and enough passive income to take the rest of life off.

What do you see yourself doing?

You’d be surprised at how many people see themselves doing a glorified nothing.

“I’m going to drink daiquiris by the beach in the Bahamas, Dymphna, until they have to scrape my cane-toad leathered corpse off the deck chair with a pool cleaner. I’m not going to answer another email, take another phone call. I’m going to do nothing at all.”

And I get that.

Life has got us running so ragged, that when most people allow themselves to dream, they dream of doing nothing. Of resting. Of curling up in bed and taking June off.

But take it from a woman who has given doing nothing a red hot go – after a while you get bored.

It’s one of the quirks of the human condition. We like change. We like novelty. No matter how nice things are, we like to mix it up every now and then.

(You also start looking for meaning – you know, helping people through wealth training and that sort of thing.)

So imagine your six years down the track. You’ve just given yourself a year off and recharged the batteries. Now what?

Most people go looking for adventure. They want to travel, learn a musical instrument, spend a whole winter skiing. They see themselves doing something fabulous and new every three months.

A life full of change is an exciting life.

Even right now, today, the improvements you want to make in your life, by definition, involve change. Change has the power to make things better.

But change is also scary. In fact, it’s one of the most scary things out there.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had like this:

“I enrolled in your course Dymphna because if I have to spend another day pushing pens around an office I’m going to go postal.”

“Well, if you feel that strongly about it, you should quit your job.”

“Oh no, there’s bills to pay, and I’m coming up for long-service leave, and I get as many pens as I want…”

Change is scary. I get that too. I often wondered where I would have ended up if life didn’t just grab me and force me down this road.

I’d probably just have a comfortable accounting practice somewhere. The fear of change creates a lot of inertia, even for me. But fortunately change was in my cards.

So change makes life awesome and change is scary. It’s a paradox.

Or take public speaking. I’m gearing up for another national tour. It’s going to be amazing. Such a power-deck of information.

And I love getting out there and meeting people. Anyone knows me knows I can talk underwater. And how many years have I been doing this for?

(Nobody answer that.)

But still, just before I go on stage. I get nervous. I get a bit edgy. Standing in front of 400 not-yet-friends is scary. Every time I have to ask myself, why do I do this? Why aren’t I at home watching a nice rom-com on the telly?

But then I get on stage and we get going, and I get to connect with people and share a bunch of really valuable information with them. People come up afterwards and say that I’ve changed their lives, and then I meet them 5 years later and I can see that I really have changed their lives…

And it’s worth it.

In fact it’s a rush. If I could bottle it and sell it as a drug I’d make a gazillion.

Anyway, that’s the paradox. We often fear the things we love. Maybe it’s the fear that makes it so exciting and alluring.

Extreme skiing
Having kids
Falling in love

Seems pretty much everything worth having in life comes with a dose of fear.

So if you’re not sure what you want to do in life, and the question “What do I love doing?” hasn’t yielded any results, why not try the question “What do I fear most?” instead.

You might be surprised where it might lead you.

What exciting things are you afraid of?