September 1, 2014

Knowing the Difference between Fear & your Inner Voice. ~ Paula Lawes


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

~ E.E. Cummings

Recently I’d set myself a task to present online to a group of individuals on the subject of getting “unstuck” in life. I thought, at the time, this would be the best course of action for the work I do as I’d seen lots of other people doing it and finding success.

At the time, I’d just been working on a huge project and three days prior to the presentation I’d still not prepared myself fully for the big day. I didn’t panic, however I knew something wasn’t quite right and the more I tried to work on the preparation, the further I seemed to be from finishing it.

Suddenly, the day had arrived which resulted in me frantically diving headlong into creating the presentation, thinking up ways to make it more interesting, more appealing and exciting for the audience. Yet, all the while I just couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for it at all.

As I practiced the speech, I listened to the sound of my voice. I didn’t sound like me at all; it was lifeless, boring and I sounded like I’d just been diagnosed with a fatal illness. Yeah it was that bad!

My first thoughts were, “They are going to be so bored with this,” and the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want to do it. Yet, I carried on. I didn’t want to fail again; I didn’t want to call it a day because I was worried that it was fear trying to stop me in my tracks.

You see, I’d let fear win before, I wasn’t about to let it drive me away from something that could bring me closer to success and make me as good as all the rest.

Three hours prior to the presentation; I stopped dead. I sat, looked at my screen and it suddenly dawned on me that fear had absolutely nothing to do with how I was feeling at all. Actually, the reason why I felt so unhappy, unenthusiastic and lackluster about it had more to do with the fact that I just didn’t want to do it!

I was about to do something which just wasn’t me at all; I am an introvert in some respects and although I am a very confident person, I’m also not in love with being in the limelight. If you’d ask my friends, they’d probably tell you differently, however. For years I’d pretended to be the life and soul of the party, but in reality I’d rather be at home reading good book!

I’d decided a year ago, the reason I was following my dreams and writing every day, was because my heart ruled instead of my head. I wanted to always be me, do what I wanted and be as honest and authentic as I could possibly be.

This was however, not me at all! I realised I’d got dragged into the, “I should be doing this,” and “look they are doing so well, perhaps that’s what I should do,” kind of thinking. When in actual fact, I should be staying true to me and doing what I was best at and it definitely wasn’t presenting—well not yet anyway!

So I cancelled. As soon as I did, it felt like the world had lifted from my shoulders that instant. I’d sent my apologies of course, but it was a total relief. I felt like I was doing what was right for me and, also, for those attending the presentation.

You see, they weren’t getting the real me, but instead just a fake me who was going to pretend to be someone she wasn’t, during the whole hour I was presenting for. I knew they deserved better than that and so did I.

My work is all about growth, and when you grow you have to sometimes make decisions that may not be very easy or straight forward. The main thing was I learned from this process; I learned that in life you can make choices that perhaps didn’t seem right at the time, but in following your instincts and learning from them you can make better choices down the line.

The next day, after I’d absorbed what happened and took time out to understand my true feelings, I blogged about why I chose to cancel the presentation. I stripped myself totally bare, I explained that it wasn’t me, that I was being a fraud and I wasn’t being who I’d led them to believe I was. I wanted them to know that in being real with them, they could be real in their lives too.

I am glad I was honest, I felt I need to be vulnerable and if I were criticised so be it. There are no guarantees in life, you’ve just got to go with what feels right. The thing was, they totally got it and in fact my willingness to be open helped them too, it inspired them to do the same in their lives and from doing what I did gave them permission to be vulnerable too.

So how can you learn to know the difference between your inner voice and fear?

Knowing who you are:

If you know who you are and what makes you tick, it can go a long way to helping you understand what makes you happy and what doesn’t. Pretending to be someone you aren’t, doing things to please others and following the crowd are all ways of keeping you from who you truly are.

You are you for a reason, so what’s the point in acting a part that was never made for you. Life is so much easier if you just learn to accept who you are, don’t be afraid of it, embrace it, and the world will do the same.

Always stay true to yourself:

Your heart is there for a reason. Sure it helps to pump the blood round the body, but it’s there to guide you too. Listen to it every single day, understand it and know when it’s trying to tell you something. Your heart has your best interests and directs you to what makes you happy.

When you stay true to yourself, you are making sure that whatever you do or act upon is for your own good; when you do this all things come together and life is made even the more beautiful because of it.

Understanding that honesty and being vulnerable is the only way:

Being honest is invaluable in life; if you’re honest with yourself and to others you’ll get that same honesty back from them. The more you reveal yourself the more others reveal to you—and if they don’t, remember that they are acting from a place of fear and letting their egos decide for them rather than their hearts.

Always be honest and vulnerable. Life has no guarantees but what’s worse? Pretending and lying to yourself and to others and getting hurt anyway, or being honest, getting hurt and instead learning and growing from those experiences so you can become who you really are.

I know what I’d choose, do you?



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Editor: Travis May

Photo: George Petridis/Pixoto

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