It took me 6 months to pick up the phone, I was so gripped by fear. I really wanted to offer to do a workshop for my local chapter of the National MS Society. But I couldn’t get myself to pick up the phone. Sharing my story and what I had learned about diets and multiple sclerosis seemed like a huge risk.
Why all this hesitation, when every bit of my being knew I was meant to inspire and educate, and make the complex, practical and doable? One big friggin’ f-word.
Fear of what, I wondered? For months I figured it was the standard fears. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of public speaking. And on and on.
It wasn’t until one night, talking to a 3-time cancer survivor with similar fears that the light went on
Yes, it was fear of relapse that was holding me back from sending my message from mountain tops. It was fear of relapse that was holding me back from telling my story to those who most wanted and needed to hear it. Why?
Well the fear party that was going on in my head went something like this:
If I went beyond my website – out into the real live world of audiences – and told people about my diet, my journey, what I’ve learned from working with clients, and then had a relapse (or exacerbation as they call it with MS), I would be a fraud. Everything I had believed would be wrong. No one would listen to me.
One simple exacerbation or symptom recurrence would wipe out the results I had achieved (tripled energy, 40 pounds lost, no new MS lesions, no new symptoms)? One relapse would eliminate the results I had helped dozens of clients achieve? Of course not.
Yes this sounds silly to me now, but this was big and heavy stuff when I first realized why I was holding myself back.
One failure doesn’t mean you are wrong. Even 200 failures doesn't mean you’re wrong. Ask Thomas Edison.
So why am I revealing this embarrassing wart to you?
Because I realized that by sharing this, I might help you.
Fear is universal. Fear expresses itself in many ways.
The realization that I was holding myself back in my calling because I was afraid I would relapse knocked me on my heels, as you might imagine. For months I was rolling this around in my head. Meditating on it. Talking to my coach and my confidants about it. Here is what I learned.
The fear wasn’t that I really didn’t know what I was talking about. It never really is.
I have spent over 2 years studying nutrition and discovering new information in my own journey. I certainly don’t have all the answers. No one does. But I am constantly learning. I know what I’m talking about, and I’m not afraid to admit when I don’t. We are all learning. And because we are unique, what works for me might not work for you. Yet after 2 years, I’ve gotten really good at navigating the journey.
So scram fear.
The fear wasn’t really that I was a fraud. Again, it never is.
Not only did I have my own story as a success example, but I had many others, as you can see.
So take that fear.
So what was this fear really about? Just the pure, unadulterated fear that if illness and fatigue reappeared in my life, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I dream of. It was a fear that haunted me for years but was kicked into overdrive when MS moved into my life.
It’s a fear that haunts many recently diagnosed.
It also haunts those staggering through life, pushing beyond their limits, craving the next nap or caffeine hit. In other words, how I was for 10 + years of my life. You see, even before the diagnosis and the symptoms, there were hundreds of things I wasn’t doing that I dreamed of. Yet my fatigue and my dogged pursuit of an unfulfilling job ensured lots of unrealized dreams. That’s what fear does.
Yet now, I know that I am doing everything I can to reduce my chances of a relapse. Are you?
I also know nothing is full proof. My clients know that too.
Yet I won’t give up. I am committed to living life to the fullest and helping others do the same.
If Stephen Hawkin can celebrate his 70th birthday after living over 50 years with ALS, then how could I give up? How could I let fear get the best of me? How could I let fear hold me back?
Is any of this resonating with you?
I learned to filter everything I do, and more importantly, everything I don’t do, through what I call the Relapse Fear Filter. It looks like this:
If I can truthfully answer yes to these types of questions, I know I’ve let fear (not MS), but fear win. That’s when I book those tickets, hit restore or pick up the phone.
As I continue my journey, I have come to realize that we are all meant to live our lives to their fullest. We are all meant to pursue our dreams, however small or large.
Fear is there to keep us safe from disappointment. But fear does not create a life lived.
How are you holding yourself back? Run your reasons for inaction through your Relapse Fear Filter. Share your answers in the comments below.
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