I love self-growth. I research it, watch videos about it, take studious notes, write about it, buy products about it, dream about it, and listen to podcasts.
There are SO many resources out there about growing as a person, healing from pain, dealing with anxiety, understanding depression, starting a business, discovering how money works, and ways to be more productive and move past resistance.
I bookmark each resource, add each video to my YouTube “Watch Later” list, and peruse the “contents” section of various books. If I don’t, I get anxiety, afraid I will miss the key that will help me unlock my own creativity, wellness, or ability to move forward. Maybe this article will reveal the technique to kick anxiety to the curb. Maybe this podcast will teach me how to market my work successfully so I don’t waste time in ignorance. Maybe this book has the tools I need to believe in myself.
I research and research and research.
Because that’s easy. That’s painless and inspiring and, at times, helpful. I take notes because it makes me feel organized and as if I have a game plan going. I listen to podcast after podcast because it makes me feel like I’m doing something valuable with my time.
Because what I’m terrified of, what makes me contract and shut down, what touches into the deepest places inside me (my darkest fears and most shameful moments as well as my brightest joy and strongest connection) is doing.
I’m scared to start. Scared to waste time because maybe I don’t have the right resource yet. Maybe I need to keep looking to ensure I don’t market my work wrong or set up the wrong writing plan or create the wrong storyline or make the wrong decision.
I abdicate self-trust. I spend it on everything and everyone else.
Instead of investing in what I already know, deep inside.
I know my work is meaningful. I know I’m doing everything right. I know my connection to stories and imagination is beautiful. I know my experience with anxiety and depression gives me the perfect reason to reach back a hand and help others. I know I dance to my own beat. I know I don’t always make decisions others like or understand. I know who I am.
And yet as soon as it bubbles to the surface, my head swoops in and intervenes, before my core self gets a gasp of air. Why? To protect it. Keep your head down, it whispers. Stay silent a while longer. I almost lost you to depression. I can’t afford to lose you again should your work not be met with support. Keep researching. It’s safer. Maybe we can ensure our survival and happiness. Please, please, stay underwater where no one can see you.
It’s not a bad voice. Not an evil voice. Simply a Protector who has seen me at my worst, who is scared for my well-being, who doesn’t want my core self to die.
But I am stronger now. I’ve walked through the darkness. I’ve looked Death in the face and turned, somehow, away. I’ve been brought to my knees by panic attacks and left a sobbing wreck on the carpet, and I’ve found the strength to stand again and stare, shaking and in tears, at my tormentors and hold them close in a loving embrace.
And the stories call. They dance and leap and glitter behind my eyes, overlapping this world, asking me to write them, to form them.
But, says the mind. Wait. What if?
And my core self ignores it and dances. Carefree.
And my mind remembers how a younger me did that . . . and almost lost herself for good.
I value my mind and honor it. It used every resource it had to save me from the brink when I was trembling on the edge. It pulled me back, restored my sense of self, and harbored my self-esteem so it could grow.
And now I stand ready to fly. To soar.
And the mind is terrified.
I am strong now. I know who I am and what I want. I know the importance of returning to the dance.
Researching and listening and studying are my ways of waiting before taking the first steps. They are my fear that I cannot trust myself, my fear that I will fall, my fear that I will lose everything I hold most dear.
Maybe you do this, too. And, maybe, it’s time to turn off the podcast, unsubscribe from the email list, and rearrange the time you spend on social media. For me, this means only using Facebook to post things or specifically look for something instead of browsing meaninglessly. This means avoiding a lot of content on YouTube that emphasizes child geniuses and record-holders and self-help material. This means learning to dance internally and trusting myself not to fall.
What does it mean for you?