Fears

“If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?”

~ Confucius

 

Recently a couple of things happened that gave me insight on how we fail. We were discussing how one of my friends was going to participate in an upcoming art event by submitting his photographs. Although he is extremely talented, enjoys this activity, and has many years of experience, when someone asked if he was a photographer, he casually replied that he was not, and only did it as a hobby. Several people there who know his talents forced him to say out loud that he was indeed, a photographer.

Then at lunch with friends, one of them mentioned she just started a podcast. Almost immediately she said it was just a “crazy idea”. We corrected her and insisted it wasn’t crazy at all and praised her for being courageous. We also told her about how we thought her eloquence made podcasting the perfect vehicle for her to express her ideas.

My friends are not the only ones who have a hard time doing something creative and then tentatively putting it out there. I tremble every time I am about to click the PUBLISH button on my blog site, and on several occasions, I have referred to it as a “baby blog”!!! Most of us suffer from fear of being judged or criticized, so we protect ourselves by stating it’s just a “hobby”, or a “crazy idea”, etc. That way if we don’t succeed (whatever definition of success we have in our mind), we can always go back to the safety of our practice space.

So, at what point do we give ourselves permission to leave our safety zone and enter the real world? When do we consider ourselves photographers, podcasters, bloggers, artists? Is it after many years of practice and experience? Perhaps after having the right education or certification? Does that make us now official creators or subject matter experts? I propose that we will never be experts, and that is just fine.

We should allow ourselves to fail. The first time will be no doubt devastating. It will sting a bit less the second time. By the third time, we may have a scar which will protect us from further damage. Then eventually we will realize that there is no such thing as failure (or success for that matter), but just a continuous process of growth. Allowing others to see a buried part of ourselves is the only way we will find our true inner voice, which may have been hiding for long time, even from ourselves.

To find your voice, look at how you like to communicate with others AND how well you do it. Both factors must be there. You can speak to many or few, write, paint, sing, dance, etc. We are very fortunate to live in a place and time where there are multiple ways to transmit your message. Then look for support group to learn from, and eventually teach to. And finally, don’t give up. You can stop to catch your breath, but then keep going. You may not see the fruits of your labor immediately or when you desire, but they will come.

In encouraging my friends to go for their dreams, I realized that I had stopped writing my blog. Their example inspired me to get out of my writing hiatus. Sometimes you feel you’re the only one who feels pressure to step out of your comfort zone. Having these moments of sharing our fears was a great lesson. We should all go out there and work on our own crazy ideas. In the process we will learn about ourselves and we may even push those around us to move forward. I’ll go first. I am a Blogger!

RC

 

My friends’ sites: Coffee Talk Podcast and Arbitrary Pixel Photography

 

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Dorian

“Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds”. 

~ Norman Vincent Peale

 

Hurricane Dorian is currently about 50 miles off the eastern coast of Florida, crawling along slowly. This brings something that we humans are not used to, uncertainty. We usually believe that we have most situations, other than disease, death and others, under control. We try to plan for most eventualities, have emergency funds, backup systems, etc. But when events do not go according to this plan, we basically have three options.

One option is to confront situation head on and proactively. In case of hurricane, we gather our troops closely, buy water and canned goods, fill up car with gas, put up shutters, etc. This means staying to experience the hurricane, and to be without electricity, water, food, for some time. I have experienced this during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and again during Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Experiencing a Miami summer without AC is definitely not pleasant or recommendable! I remember counting the hours until the sun would set, so temperature would cool down a bit, and so then we could huddle around candles and play cards or listen to battery powered radio. You later tell yourself this is making you stronger, but at the time, you wish it to be over IMMEDIATELY.

A second option is to leave and avoid any strife. I chose this option in 2017 when Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, was heading straight to Miami. I reached this decision after thinking of the days without AC and electricity, and especially of the devastation it caused in Puerto Rico. This was not easy because it meant leaving my dad and siblings, who had decided to stay.  So on one hand you have peace of mind because you will be OK, but you also experience guilt because those close to you are not there. So it’s not complete peace of mind, because you keep asking yourself when does your responsibility to others end and the responsibility to yourself begins? Thankfully, the storm did not hit Miami head on and we were more fortunate than our Caribbean neighbors.

A third option is to do nothing. This was basically my family’s strategy during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. I was a teenager, but I don’t remember buying enough supplies or boarding the house. I do remember huddling in one internal hallway of the house we were renting at the time, and hearing the hurricane growling outside. I felt the windows and roof shaking, and feeling they could blow up at any moment. That was one of the most frightening experiences ever! In our defense, early 90’s technology, communication and hurricane knowledge were not as advanced as they are now. Although we survived unscathed, other than losing electricity, our neighbors to the south in Homestead suffered for many weeks and even months, and many lost their homes for good.

However we have reacted to these Mother Nature problems in the past is how we tend to approach life’s problems. Some people tend to face situations head on, prepare well, communicate the plan to all within their group, and stay the course. If we all understand that we have done our best in any given situation, meaning we had good intentions, created a reasonable plan, and then followed through, our results should closely match our original plan. If we tend to leave when life becomes too difficult, and leaving could be physically, mentally or emotionally, instead of confronting the root issue, we will never grow as humans and will be unable to face future problems alone. In the same manner, if we don’t do anything, and expect a situation to “magically disappear”, which may happen sometimes, but most likely, it will reappear later in a stronger way. Then it may become an unmanageable problem.

By the way, I am not suggesting that life’s problems have one single approach. Life is much more complex and we may never find out if we made the correct choice until years later. Sometimes the correct approach may be to leave, sometimes it may be to do nothing, or even a combination of approaches. However, we should reflect on how we personally behaved in the past and try to notice if there is a pattern to our behavior and how we have handled problems. We have no control on how others act, but we can definitely monitor and have intentions for our own behaviors, and with resilience and patience, we can grow as decision makers. Take a look at your personal “Dorian” and make a decision today.

 

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Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

The Five Chimps Theory

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” ~ Unknown

 

Naval Ravikant mentions a theory called “The 5 Chimp Theory” in the book Tools of Titans. It says that in zoology you can predict the mood and behavior of one chimp by observing which five chimps they hang out with the most. Similarly, Jim Rohn said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Basically, you take the behaviors and mind think of that group. In my case, my five-chimp group is composed of family, friends from high school, and those who became friends later in life. By the way, I don’t believe the magic number has to be exactly five. It could be four or six or other number. The point remains that you should be mindful of those you frequent, as you will behave like them.

So this idea tells us that if we want to grow as a person, we should be mindful who we are hanging around with. Success gurus tell us that we should discard these people if they are toxic and if their life values are not aligned with ours. Life is like quick sand and if we stop to rescue others from it, we will all sink. So we should evolve and make new acquaintances, people who are positive and share similar life goals, and who with time will become close friends. We will push each other toward the goal, whatever that is, but one who should be similar.

But these experts may have neglected the fact that humans are different than chimps. My family and friends were at my wedding, we have had many adventures together, and most importantly, were there at my lowest points. I remember some of my darkest days when I would be driving in my car, lost in thought, and for no reason my cell phone would ring and one of my best friends would call me just to see how I was doing. That is priceless! I have done the same as well. These last few months two of my closest friends lost their mothers. I did not know what to say or do, but I tried my best to be there for them.

So, I have decided to not listen to the experts this time. I do not mean giving up on my dreams, but more like continue on this journey WITHOUT giving up on those close to me that for whatever reason, decided that life is just fine the way it is. So my group of chimps can be a little different than what the theory says. We have one lazy chimp who eats and sleeps all day, one happy-go-lucky chimp who plays with twigs and rocks, one romantic chimp who chases after other chimps, one motivated chimp who collects bananas for the future, and one who observes and tries to keep them all together. They can make their own conclusions as where they fall in.

 

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Photo by Dylan Mullins on Unsplash

Freedom

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

~Declaration of Independence of the United States of America – July 4, 1776

 

I went to see a therapist as a last resort. I was going through the most difficult time in my life, a separation after a 9-year marriage, and my sweet sister suggested this professional counselor, who came highly recommended. I finally went, had nothing to lose anymore, and maybe, just maybe, it would help. In one of the sessions, he told me something I will never forget. He said “give yourself permission to do such and such”. I jumped up and said “what do you mean, give myself permission!?”

The painful situation that I was going through and that I had been confiding in him had not happened because I decided or did not decide to do something. It was out of my control and it was caused by other people and or external forces or situations. But he told me in his wisdom, after all he had seen hundreds if not thousands of cases, that people have certain behavioral patterns in reaching decisions. We feel obligated to act in a particular way or take on a role in life because of what we learned as children from our parents or those who raised us. Then we use techniques which helped us survive when young, based on our personalities and values, and keep doing them as adults.

He said I could stop doing things I did not want to do. Give myself permission to say no to a situation I did not want to do. Or to pursue something I wanted to do. Ever since that day, I started to become the director of my life. I know we all think we do that already, but before deciding to do something, do you stop and think how your actions will be perceived by others? What will they think of me now? How will it affect them? I really don’t know what other people think, people are funny that way, but I like to believe they are too busy collaborating with others on their own mind stories. Of course life has compromises, that’s what makes it interesting. But you should not self sabotage your life.

Now if I think I should do something out of obligation only, I do not. If I had a tough day and I have not finished all activities on my “to-do-list”, I take the evening off and relax, guilt free. Or if I am hesitant to do something out of fear, I tell myself do it “to the best of my abilities.” Basically I removed the pressure to be perfect or not do it at all mentality that I had when younger. Because of a single comment heard many years ago, I have given myself permission to find those activities that light up my life, and stop those that take away the fire. So on this day where we celebrate freedom as a nation, I urge you to write your personal Declaration of Independence as a person, and declare that from now on, you are free from those mind blocks that have been with you during your whole life. Starting now, go and pursue your happiness!

 

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Photo by Junior Moran on Unsplash