Are you afraid of living the life you want?

“We do not fear the unknown. We fear what we think we know about the unknown” – Teal Swan

Are you afraid of actually achieving the life you truly want? Have you ever had a moment where you thought you knew what you wanted only to turn it down when it actually showed up in your life? Are you so scared of failing that you never even try?

It can feel strange to admit to ourselves that we are afraid of actually having the life we want, but for many of us it is true, and admitting we have a problem is the first step towards healing! Think about it: if we really truly wanted a different life than the one we have now and were not afraid of realizing that dream, wouldn’t we be working harder to make it happen? Wouldn’t we be doing everything in our power to make that dream a reality? What is stopping us from having the life we really want?

In one way or another, it all comes down to fear. Fear keeps us small, keeps us from taking risks, keeps us in our comfort zone. We are afraid to try, to get what we want and then have it taken away from us. It feels easier and less scary to never achieve our dreams than to try and to fail, or to succeed and then lose it all again. At least, this is the story many of us tell ourselves.

For some people, though, the fear of NOT living the life they so desire is much stronger than any fear of failure – these are the people I find truly inspirational. I’m not sure I am quite there yet, but I certainly strive to belong in this category. To be motivated by a love for life and a passion for the things that excite me, rather than by a fear of failure.

The Four Obstacles

According to Paulo Coelho, there are four obstacles that keep us from realizing our dreams.

“First: we are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible.
The second obstacle: love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream.
The third obstacle: fear of the defeats we will meet on the path.
The fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives.”

Again, these obstacles pretty much all boil down to fear. We are afraid that what we want is impossible, that we will be unable to achieve it. We are afraid that our success or our actions will hurt those around us, even if it is what truly sets our soul on fire. We are afraid that we will fail, that we will be defeated in our pursuit of happiness. And lastly, we are afraid that if we do realize our dreams, there will be nothing left to fight for.

Most of us have at least some idea of what our personal calling is, what it is we would really love to do with our lives. This personal calling may or may not be a traditional job – in fact, it often probably is not – but we all have different strengths and passions that could in some way be used to make the world a better place, and hopefully many of us have discovered what those are. I think a lot of us know what we are really good at as children, but learn to hide our talents, to be humble, to be practical, to stay on the path rather than diverge and be creative.  

In addition, many of us have no idea how to use our unique skills, or are unaware of how special our we are and of the ability we have to positively impact others. We are taught that it is not practical to dream in this way, so we stop believing in ourselves and our ability to make change. We settle down with a job that doesn’t really fulfill us and we bury our personal calling in order to make room for other, more “practical” decisions in our lives. We worry that we will disappoint our loved ones if we stray from the norm, that somehow believing in our dreams and living our passions means letting other people down.

How sad is it to think that so many people do not support their loved ones in doing what sets their soul on fire!? How could anyone not want that for the people they care about? And yet, it is sadly often true that other people think they somehow know what is best for us, what will help us lead the most safe and comfortable life, even if that means it is hollow and unfulfilling.

Choose love

I have written about this many times and I will write about it many more because I think it is one of the most important things we can do in life: choose love over fear. When we act from a place of fear, we are giving in to our ego and letting it control our lives. We stay inside our comfort zone and we let fear dictate what we are and are not willing to do. We listen to the ego when it tells us hurtful things and tries to keep us small. It convinces us that what we want is impossible, that we are lazy and stupid and may as well not even try.

When the ego teams up with fear, they are a pretty powerful duo that are very skilled at keeping us from trying anything new. To be fair, they are only trying to help – they want to keep us safe and cozy and out of harm’s way. This may have been useful back when we were living in caves and fighting for survival every day, but fortunately for us, that is no longer our existence and we have the potential for so much more. We can thank the ego and fear for looking out for us, but we can also recognize that we do not have to live under their control, that they no longer know what is best for us and should really just stay out of our way.

When we act from a place of love, when we let love guide the choices we make in life, we simply cannot go wrong. Sure, we may make mistakes, we may fail over and over again, but if we are guided by love, we will always make our way back and we will know that each failure is only a chance to learn and grow. When we act from love, we examine our mistakes and find ways to improve, we let our authentic light shine through and lift up those around us, we find the courage to be ourselves and in doing so, give others the courage to be themselves too.

A thought experiment

Take a moment to deeply consider the following: if you were to win 100 million dollars right now, how would you change your life? Would you stay at the job you are at right now, or is there other work you would rather be doing? Would you travel, go on adventures, see the seven wonders of the world? Would you keep spending time with the same people, in the same places?

If money and a sense of security are all that are keeping you in the life you are currently in, if you would change everything in your life if only you had the money, I urge you to go ahead and make those changes now! Odds are, you are never going to win 100 million dollars – why let that stop you from having the life you want? The risk of giving up what you have now may be scary, but so is the risk of living your whole entire life in fear, of letting fear of the unknown stop you from designing the happy, fulfilling, amazing existence that you deserve.

So ask yourself this: which risk are you more willing to take?