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When What You Want Scares You

How to Persevere Past Self-Doubt | True Radiance Healing Arts

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When I was first offered the opportunity to teach a workshop years ago, my heart said, “oh yes!” but my head said, “oh no!” Deep within me it felt absolutely right to be leading a workshop, but my mind was full of fears and doubts…
“Who am I to lead a group, to present myself as an expert?”
“What if I stand up in front of the room and forget everything?”
“What if they hate it? What if they get up and walk out in the middle?”

Like many people in this country, I dreaded public speaking when I was younger (ok, true confession, part of me still gets a bit nervous). Even the thought of standing up in front of the class and delivering a short talk at school made me queasy. It was like all the blood would drain out of my brain, rendering it useless, and into my face, lighting me up like a beet.

Given this, you might think I’d be the last person to sign myself up to lead a group voluntarily. Yet, I couldn’t deny that teaching also felt absolutely right. There was a quiet voice in my core telling me that leading groups and workshops was one of my gifts and part of my purpose. How could I say no to that?

It turns out that I actually LOVE facilitating groups and leading workshops, even if it still sometimes scares me. When I teach a group – even one that goes late into the evening – I feel energized and even a bit wound up afterwards. But I would never have discovered this if I had listened to the voice of fear and declined the opportunity.

Over the years as I have worked with more and more people, I have found a common thread in this experience: many of us want to, or even feel called to, do something that scares us.

In fact, the more we feel drawn to undertaking a particular path, the more fear it can stir in us. This path could be related to our career, getting involved in a relationship or making more friends, having a baby, going back to school, or leaving a relationship. It’s not always this way, of course. There are times when we feel compelled in a direction that feels natural to us. Most often it seems there’s a blend, an irrational mix of comfort, confidence, and terror evoked by our desires.

One reason for this lies in the degree of risk we perceive to be involved. If an activity feels like part of our life purpose, it can be thrilling but also add pressure. When it feels like the stakes are high, fear and doubt are often close by. We can be haunted by questions like, “What if it doesn’t work out? What if I’m wasting my time? What if it turns out I’m no good at this? What then?”

Now that I have more faith, I’ve realized that, as long as I do my part, if I’m on the right path then my success is inevitable. Doing my part means being active, taking steps toward accomplishing my dreams. It means braving up and following the little inner voice to do even the things that scare me.

On my own journey and in my work with hundreds of people, there are strategies that I’ve found helpful in persevering past doubt. Here are a few of them:

  1. Rehearse Ease. Whenever we do something unfamiliar, the brain’s threat watchdog, the amygdala, goes on alert. In fact, the amygdala scans all incoming information from our senses and from the cortex. Since the cortex is spectacular at imagining things, the amygdala reacts to scenarios we are imagining as well as events that are transpiring in real time. That’s why even *thinking about* doing something that scares you can elicit the fight, flight, or freeze response (otherwise known to some of us as the “eat, binge watch TV reruns, or get lost in FaceBook” response). Luckily, we can use this to our advantage by imagining ourselves carrying out the activity with ease. This works best if you imagine it just a few minutes at a time, frequently (daily works well), and in as much sensory detail as possible.
  2. Break it Down. Another way to help avoid triggering the amygdala is to break down a goal into small, manageable steps. Again, the key is to take action a few minutes at a time, repeated over time. This repetition creates and reinforces a new neural pathway, which is the structure of habit in the brain. Make a date with yourself to do just a little bit toward your goal most days. If you find you’re not getting to it, make the step even smaller. Over time, you’ll find yourself feeling encouraged by the progress you’re making, which makes it even more appealing to keep going. (You can read more about this in the blog post, The Neuroscience of Changing Habits.)
  3. Focus on the Supportive Inner Voice. We typically have many aspects of ourselves that contribute to our inner dialogue. Often there will be a part of us that knows we are on the right track and fully capable of achieving our goal. Simultaneously, there will be other parts of us who express doubts, perhaps dredging up past failures and generally raining on our parade. It can help to “talk back” to the fearful voices by saying to yourself, “Thank you for your input, and right now I’m choosing to listen to the Part of Me That Knows.” Over time, this supportive inner voice will get clearer and louder, while the voices of fear and doubt will lose gusto.
  4. Collect Reasons to Keep Going. The voice of fear and doubt will offer us a myriad of reasons to give up. Like a detective building a case, start gathering evidence that you’re on the right track. This might include positive feedback and compliments from friends, family, clients, or others. At times it can be easier to accept someone else’s positive evaluation of us than it is to accept our own. Other people see gifts and talents in us long before we are ready to own them. For me, my case for continuing also included intuitive information and night dreams that encouraged me.
  5. Build Trust. One way we can begin to open doors to new ways of thinking is to ask ourselves the same question over and over. Try playing with the question, “What would it be like to trust that things will work out?” or “What would it be like to trust that I’m capable of doing this?” See if you can feel that trust, even 2% more than you did a moment ago. Our plans don’t always materialize the way we had hoped – sometimes things work out in a way that’s even better. Trusting that things will work out means trusting that, even if it doesn’t transpire the way you imagined it would, in the long run there will be aspects that you can genuinely appreciate and enjoy.
  6. Get Support. Just knowing that someone else is on our team, walking the path of challenge and celebrating with us, can go a long way towards our success. You aren’t the only one who has fear come up around something you really want in your life. It can be a powerful asset to have a supportive person you can reach out to just before taking a step that scares you, someone who understands what it means for you to do it, and who can give you a big “Woo-hoo!!” and reflect the depth of that accomplishment back to you once it’s done.

It’s common to both really want to do something and be frightened by or anxious about the idea of doing it. You don’t have to let fear be the boss of you. You can do it! Start today using one of the strategies above or by approaching it in a way that has worked for you in other situations.

Dreams Point the Way Toward Your Life Purpose

Dreams Guide Us to Our Life Purpose | True Radiance Healing ArtsWhen I tell people that my dreams have been a guiding light in finding my life purpose, I get some strange looks.

I’ve always had a strong sense that our lives are not accidents, that we come to this life for a reason. By the time I was in my 30s, I knew the general direction to which I felt drawn…creative arts, supporting other people, spiritual exploration…but I couldn’t seem to get any clarity on what I had to offer the world that was uniquely mine.

I took every class or workshop that I could afford on an array of topics from personal productivity to shamanic healing and everything in between. I developed a great breadth of understanding about how we as human beings can thrive in our work and personal lives.

My strategy was a kind of shot-gun approach: if I learned everything then I would cover all the bases. Surely one of those things would be my life’s work.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had this feeling…that there is something you’re meant to be doing, but you just can’t pin it down. For me, it was deeply frustrating. I felt like I was hitting my head against a wall – and wasting precious time.

A clear sense of my life purpose finally came to me when I stopped running around, looking for signs of my life path out there and started looking inward, at my dreams.

Our dreams are messages from our Higher Self and they include guidance on everything from health to relationships to our life purpose.

When I began to take the time to understand my dreams and actually make decisions based on their input, my entire life changed. My life vision became clearer; I quit my “day job” and started my full-time practice supporting people in removing obstacles, changing patterns, and healing wounds using my own blend of life coaching and energy healing.

Over time, I’ve learned I can trust the information I get from my dreams. I’ve also found that if there’s a decision I’m pondering, or a choice I’ve just made, I can get feedback the very next night.

This guidance is available to you as well. It’s comforting to know that we, with our limited human perspective, are not alone on this journey. We aren’t meant to stumble through our lives haphazardly, hopefully bumping into the right path for us; we are meant to have help.

In my years as a student, I’ve also learned how to have a “dream” while fully awake. The technique some call “journeying” is one you can learn. I teach it in my workshops and private sessions with clients. It’s very powerful and comes in handy when you don’t usually remember your dreams or when you don’t want to wait until you fall asleep!

If you are ready to get your questions about your life path answered, sign up for my upcoming workshop on Living Your Life Purpose on May 14 & 15 in Edmonds, WA. I hope to see you there.

Wishing you great fulfillment,
Susan

Life Purpose in Dreams

Because our life purpose is so central to our lives, our dreams often contain information about it.

While the entire dream would have to be looked at to understand the full message, here are a few symbols to look for in dreams that comment on our life purpose:

1. A dream character in a position of authority or with a title, such as a police officer, waitress, doctor, or shop owner. Whatever gifts these character possess are yours as well.

2. Special powers you have in a dream are often a reflection of or symbolic of skills you have in waking life, such as the ability to see spirits.

3. Parties, birthday parties, or celebrating Christmas in a dream can be about your birth and the gifts you brought with you.

4. Receiving a gift in a dream often shows us the gifts we are to use as part of our life purpose.

5. Ships in a harbor can be a pun on birth (berth) and thus alert us that the dream is addressing our birth.

6. Dreams that symbolically show the birth imprint, such as leaving a building (often through a narrow opening such as a window) or coming down from a high place also typically comment on our gifts. Other examples would be landing on earth from a space ship or coming down in an elevator.

If you want to know more about how dreams show our life purpose, you can listen to the archived episode of my radio show about dreams, healing and guidance, “So You Think You’re Awake,” where we focus on dreams about life purpose.

Life Purpose: 8 Key Points

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1. Having a purpose to our life is universal.
We all came to this lifetime with an intention. We have gifts we came to offer and learning we came to integrate.

2. Our life purpose is unique.
Each person’s life purpose consists of their own blend of talents and struggles, carried out in their own way.

3. Living our purpose asks us to be courageous.
Since we all have our own unique path, if you are truly going to follow yours then at some point you are likely to feel you are making a choice that other people don’t understand and wouldn’t choose for you. Friends and loved ones may advise you in a “logical” direction that is counter to the choice you feel intuitively drawn to make. It takes courage to listen to your own sense of what’s right for you.

4. Our life purpose requires effort. 
Our life work is not always the easiest thing for us to do. Engaging with our life purpose usually requires patience and practice. I often see people get frustrated when they hit a bump in the road–for example, I’ve worked with many writers who felt that writing was part of their calling, but who begin to doubt their calling when they struggle with writing.

5. Opportunities arise when we are on the right path.
When we are engaged with our life purpose, doors will open up for us that would not have otherwise opened. Even though we have to show up and put in the work to make our life vision a reality, there are often synchronicities and opportunities that appear.

6. Following our life purpose is a process that reveals itself as we go.
There is a timing to some elements of our life purpose. When we stand back, it makes sense to us that our entire life purpose wouldn’t happen or be available to us all at once, but rather that it would be an unfolding throughout our lives. We can get impatient that things aren’t unfolding the way we want them to. In some cases, it may not be time yet. There is an important sequencing of events, both in our individual lives and in the greater world.

7. Difficulties have an integral role in our life purpose.
Dealing with the challenging aspects of our lives can sometimes feel like it’s getting in the way of accomplishing our life purpose, when in fact transcending and learning from these challenges is a vital part of our purpose.

8. Both giving and receiving have a place in the purpose of our lives.
Just as it is part of our soul contract to offer our assistance in various ways during our lifetime, it also part of other people’s contract to assist us. I’m not talking about a sense of entitlement or “he owes me” kind of thinking. I do want to point out that receiving is just important as giving in the grand scheme of life. Our culture tends to promote the idea of self-sufficiency to the exclusion of accepting help. Being willing to receive support as well as to give it is a major life lesson that many people in this country are working with.