So many dreams and plans are put on hold every day, by millions of people around the world. The reasons vary; and the results can range from minor disappointment, to a lifetime of heartbreak. Once we reach a certain age, it is a bit daunting or even scary to think back on some of the plans and dreams that were put on hold years ago; those wishes that never made it into reality. Maybe life threw us a curveball and we weren’t able to do the things we wanted to do; or perhaps we chose to take a different road which we thought would be smarter, more fulfilling, or safer. Sometimes we got it right. Sometimes we didn’t – sometimes we mistook the voice of fear for the voice of reason. In any case, wondering about the ‘what if’ can make us depressed and it doesn’t offer any solutions.
Instead of wondering about things that could have been, it’s much better to know ourselves in such a way that we can correctly identify when our fears are trying to take control of our choices.
Journaling helps a lot – by writing what we think and feel, we can eventually pinpoint the statements that represent our negative thoughts. Learning how to identify the voice of our fears can be challenging because for most of our lives we have been tricked into thinking that all decisions should be made only after a prolonged and careful analysis; and only after being able to assess all the variables. This kind of logical thinking is very useful when it comes to financial decisions; however, when we apply it to life choices (even those that include a financial aspect) it can become paralyzing, because we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re being objective; when in fact what we’re doing is rationalizing our fears and handing them control of our lives.
Here’s a little fun exercise: whenever you come across a negative possibility, i.e. a sentence in your journal that addresses a probable obstacle of any kind, highlight it or underline it with red or yellow. After a while when you have several of these visual pointers, tackle each of them with a ‘worst case scenario’ approach: what would happen if that obstacle or difficulty actually took place? What would really be the worst case scenario of that possibility? Make it as intense and dramatic as you want, like you were writing a novel or play. Picture yourself in that situation. Then, think of a solution for it; no matter how unlikely or outrageous it may seem – remember, it has to match the proportions of the fictional drama you just wrote down. You’re no longer focusing on negative outcomes now, but also on the positive ones. Just as life can throw disappointments and hard lessons at us; it can also blow our minds with positivity and kindness. Both outcomes are equally probable; but we have become accustomed to not noticing that. In the end, you will see it clear as day: most of the obstacles we foresee are products of our fears. Just as easily as we can visualize negative outcomes, we can also visualize positive ones. The lesson here is not that we have to act on impulse; but rather, that we can’t act driven by fear. Fear turns into inaction, and when we stop dreaming and planning and doing, we stop living.
If you do this exercise I’d love to read how it turned out for you! Remember I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org