I’ve been feeling a lot of vulnerability and self doubt lately. Perhaps you have, too?
I’m going through one of those times when I find myself questioning everything.
- Am I a good enough wife and mother? (Good God, what if I’m failing as a mother?!)
- Am I a good enough daughter and sister? (I really should call and visit much more often.)
- Could I be a better friend? (Yes, I’m 100% certain I could.)
- Am I good enough to be sitting here writing this blog for you right now? (What if I don’t have any valuable perspective or insight to offer? Am I a fraud? Dear Lord, am I making a fool of myself?)
- What if I am messing everything up?
And as I write down all of these questions, and allow myself to feel all of my fears, my chest and throat tighten, my breathing becomes shallow, and muscles all over my body tense up. Anxiety gets me in a choke hold and I have to decide what to do.
We all face hundreds – perhaps thousands – of decisions every day. Most of them are small and relatively inconsequential. (Do you want cream and sugar with that? Should I go with the cute shoes or the practical ones?) Some of them are more significant. (Public school or home school? Organic or conventional?) And some of them are life changing.
When I created Awakening Authenticity, I thought it was a one-time, life-changing choice. At the time, it seemed fairly reasonable to believe that if I showed enough dedication and commitment things would fall in line with relative ease and I would blissfully type off into the sunset, fulfilled and contented. I would know that I was making a small but meaningful difference in the world, and that would be it’s own beautiful reward. I was partially correct, but had missed out on a few important details…
Those of you who’ve been on this blogging adventure with me from the outset might recall that I participated in Jonathan Milligan’s 7-Day Launch Your Blog Challenge. Over the course of a week, Jonathan guides you through the fundamentals of launching a blog, as you do it. In his final email, he said something that really struck me.
“Your present courage determines their future hopes and dreams.”
You feel scared and vulnerable as your mouse hovers over the publish button, but your words and your decision to click that button could mean the world to your reader. You’ve come this far. You can do it. You CAN do it .
Little did I know, that I’d have to confront that fear and hesitation over and over in the course of my first months (maybe years?) blogging.
There are days, even weeks, when I find my courage reserves need replenishment. Facebook and Instagram “likes” aren’t enough to fill me up. And, oh!, it would be so wonderful if I could just throw some courage in my Amazon shopping cart.
But courage is an inside job and it’s up to me to find or create more.
Know Your “Why”
When we feel vulnerable and afraid of where life might be taking us, we naturally feel a urge to cocoon and withdraw from perceived danger. And sometimes we will need to briefly do just that; in those moments of calm quiet we need to do two things.
First, we need to listen. Quietly. Patiently. Carefully. We need to listen to our fears without enabling them to control us. Let them be heard and acknowledged.
But then, we must listen more deeply for our still small voice. What is it saying? Is it urging us on? Asking us to be cautious and careful? Nudging us to throw caution to the wind and move forward decisively? Listen. Hear that voice – your spirit, intuition, inner guide – and acknowledge it too.
Second, we need to understand. Your inner guide knows you. It knows your gifts and how you can best use them in this world. It knows your weakness and how to turn it into strength. And it knows how much you are capable of. It won’t betray you. Trust it. And then ask it “why?” Why does it want you to chose this path? Again, listen.
Listen with all of your being now, because the “why” that surfaces here is what will help motivate and inspire you through good times and bad. It will help you navigate when you feel uncertain, and will let you know if you’ve strayed off course. Listen deeply and then write your why down in as much detail as you can. It is gold. And when you’re low on courage, this “why” can help you replenish your supply and continue forward.
With your why understood and your courage levels fortified, what should you do with this heap of anxious vulnerability you’ve been carrying around?
The answer? It’s entirely up to you, my dear. You must decide.
Courage enables you to make a mindful and purposeful decision; without it, fear and reactiveness are “in charge.” Courage empowers you to choose your response. So look at everything you know: your fears, your inner guidance, your why. Reflect on values, the person you want to be, the risks you are willing to take (and can reasonably make), the life you want to lead. Then take a deep breath…and decide.
I love this quote from Glennon Doyle Melton.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt entirely “ready” for any of the really important events in my life: becoming a parent, leaving home for the first time, getting married, buying my first home, getting a new job, sharing my creative pursuits, or starting a blog.
For me, there’s a voice that guides me through resistance and fear, firmly but gently. It doesn’t lead me astray. It knows what I am capable of. When I trust it, I find the strength in my vulnerability and move forward. And it has led me down some stunningly beautiful paths that I didn’t feel ready for and might have otherwise avoided.
So for me, right now, I know my vulnerability. I know what it’s about, the fears that support it, the calling that brings it into being, and the why behind that calling. And I know that I must love myself through the fear and trust my inner guidance. My future lies before me, not behind. My path carries me forward, not back. I feel vulnerable and full of doubt, but my why is my rock and it anchors me to my mission. I’ve felt this way before, and I’ll feel this way again. I must embrace this vulnerability, lean into it, and trust myself to forge my path forward, into the great unknown.
Blessings to you on your journey, my friend. Take courage and trust yourself. In your vulnerability there is great beauty and strength. I believe in you.