One of the most frequent but least recognized signs that fear is holding us back is that we’re very busy but not doing what really needs to be done. I somehow skirt around it, looking at or fixing stuff around the periphery of what I really want to make progress on.
It may look like I’m heading in the right direction. But looks can be deceiving, and in my case, they often have been.
Fear or avoidance often rise up when we have a lot to do, although we aren’t always willing to call it that. There certainly have been times when we know we’re uncomfortable or uneasy or maybe a little insecure, but fear was rarely identified.
Procrastination, on the other hand, seems less confessional, something we can admit is our way of avoiding a person or event, even when we don’t quite know why. If we take a moment to look, we might grudgingly admit the rather obvious connection between our behavior and our avoidance of getting something done (some call this resistance).
Hitting the snooze button on our alarm clock is a common example of how we repeatedly attempted to delay getting up and facing a difficult task or situation.
When we’re busy doing things, it seems like we’re going after what we want, but that it’s just taking longer, and there are things that seem very important to do first. Not that long ago, I would have spent loads of time tweaking my website instead of contacting someone whose opinion I thought would make or break an idea of mine.
Fear often keeps us from focusing on what needs to be done in the moment. It’s like wearing the wrong prescription eyeglasses. We sort of know where we should be looking, but it’s blurry and indistinct. We rarely stop to think that the lens we’re looking through might be the problem.
Fear keeps us looking backwards into the past for a justification of avoiding doing things that we think are uncomfortable. It’s the way our wisdom has naturally provided as an innocent way of keeping us from harm. It had its purpose in the past but now, if we want to move ahead in our lives, we can let go of.
Fear (to whatever degree we recognize it) keeps us busy avoiding what we fear and allowing us to focus on managing bits of the bigger picture that we feel comfortable working on.
When I began to look at what my busyness consisted of, I discovered a lot of activity ‘full of sound and fury signifying nothing’, as Shakespeare would say. That sound and fury was mostly in my head, as I recycled a ton of thinking about what might go wrong, which in turn triggered a lot of scary feelings. And logic couldn’t undo it. What changed?
I discovered that beneath all the noise in my head there was a natural, ever present clarity and resilience that I’d been too distracted to notice. When I quieted down, it was obvious. Then I was able to take action and get things done.
We’re actually all built this way, every one of us; we’ve just been taught otherwise. The clarity and resilience we all possess enables us to see what needs to be done and what steps need to be taken, step by step.
It’s totally possible, and makes life so much easier, when we step out of our habitual ways of “being productive” and instead, ask ourselves,
“What wants to happen next?”
Nina Lockwood is a Conscious Living coach, writer, artist and creator of Redesign Your Life: an Invitation to Live from Your True Nature and Be Free. Visit her at ninalockwood.com, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram (@ninalockwood.nilo).