How to choose love and overcome the fear that holds us back from being ourselves.
We’re all acquainted with the What-If-Monster right? You remember him. He’s the little craggy, hairy, elusive guy that occasionally pops out to whisper, “But what if….” whenever we are about to do something a little scary or brave or outside our comfort zone.
You know how it goes.
You’re about to walk into a job interview and the What-If-Monster whispers, “But what if you aren’t really qualified for this work?” You’re about to jump on a plane to explore somewhere you’ve always dreamed of visiting and the What-If-Monster whispers, “But what if it isn’t safe?” “What if it’s actually a huge letdown?” You’re about to have coffee with a potential new friend and again that stupid monster pops in and whispers, “But what if they don’t like you?” “What if you’re not good enough?” “What if you fail?” “What if you are actually insane and everyone around you is just playing along because they don’t want to hurt your feelings?” (Is that last one just me?)
When I was a kid I used to think that growing up would mean that, somehow, someday, the monsters would magically just…disappear. That growing up would allow me to escape the shadows and voices that have the ability to infiltrate the psyche, slowly curling the edges of those glossy, perfect photographic images we have in our minds. Until, suddenly, you can’t remember why you thought your idea was ever a good one in the first place. So you give up.
Yeah, ok, I’m no longer afraid of actual monsters under my bed, or in my closet or hiding in the dark – waiting to pounce (honestly, sometimes this one still gets me.)
But, the monsters didn’t exactly go away upon arriving at adulthood (whatever that is.) Instead, they just got a little more sophisticated in their tactics to derail me – convincing me that I will fail at whatever I’m trying to do. That somewhere out there, there is probably someone (or a thousand someones) who are better than me, smarter than me, and more equipped to do the thing I’m setting out to do. The What-If-Monster will tell me that I’ll probably regret my decisions, that I’ll probably be embarrassed by my choices, that the best thing for me to do is to stay exactly where I am, where things are predictable and safe and (relatively) easy.
But here’s the thing….
If there is one thing I’ve learned about the What-If-Monster in my 35 years of knowing him, it’s this: The What-If-Monster is ruled by fear and I am not. I am ruled by love.
Where the What-If-Monster would ask, “What if you fail?” Love would ask, “What if you succeed?” The WIM would say, “What if they think your idea is stupid?” Love would say, “What if they love it?” The WIM might ask, “What are they going to think if you do this?” Love would ask, “How will you feel if you don’t?”
When the What-If-Monster says, “When you crash and burn, you’ll never recover from this.” Love will be there to answer with, “You already have everything you need inside of you to figure this out.”
It isn’t always easy. And I don’t always succeed. But when I let myself be ruled by love rather than by fear, then the What-If-Monster ceases to exist and what is left in his absence is only courage, and confidence, and empowerment and love.
Because at the end of the day, what if they don’t like me? What if I do fail? What if it is a terrible decision? The What-If-Monster will ask whether or not I have enough love in my heart and in my life to survive…to pick up the pieces and keep moving…to start over again…to still hold my head high and realize my worth?
And I will answer him, “Yes. Yes. Yes.”
Emphatically. A thousand times. Yes.