On a recent family vacation we found ourselves nestled into a lovely Air B&B in the beautiful city of Boulder, CO. Our little house perfectly accommodated our family of five, with three pretty bedrooms filled with natural light, a small kitchen with sleek modern updates and a patio where I sipped hot coffee on cool mountain mornings before anyone else woke up.
My kids loved the place too, running around rough-housing as usual, as if we owned the place. At bedtime when my son was wrestling with my man-partner just one more time before lights out, he jokingly pushed him into the closet shouting, “Get back in the closet, you’re going to be my nightmare!”
While I thought this was absolutely hilarious at the time, I thought about it again the following morning over my solo cup of Jo. Certainly my son was just kidding about picking his own nightmare, but this is something we all do subconsiously, either by opening up our big proverbial closet doors and sticking emotional monsters inside or by refusing to acknowledge the ones already hiding out in there.
As adults we create our own obstacles (or real live nightmares) by allowing unexamined fears to hang out in our minds, which stifles our ability to live in happiness and success. Instead of removing the fears, we try to live with them by making excuses for why we allow them to stay and end up cutting ourselves off from the chance to live the highest expression of our individual genius. If you aren't quite sure where to scout out your own subconscious road blocks, (I mean after all if you knew what they were wouldn't you have already faced them?), then try looking at the areas of your life you struggle with over and over again.
It could be the fear of financial success that seems to jump out every time our goals are within reach. Maybe we hang onto the anger toward an ex or a parent that sabotages our intimate relationships. Perhaps we are getting in the way of lasting fitness and health or the daring to make a big dream into a reality. No doubt about it, we hold ourselves back by keeping our nightmares on a short leash.
Isn’t it better to chill with the devil you know than the one you don’t? I’m sure there is a saying that goes something like that. But really, isn’t it more comfortable to know what our nightmare is going to be about every time, then to open ourselves up to the unknown? What if we opened the closet doors and told all those fears to get the F out? Then what?
Well, that’s easy…we would have a brand new set of nightmares tiptoe in. Most of us can’t let our closet remain totally empty, but when we overcome our reoccurring fears, we create space to operate on a much higher level. The good new is as our fears become increasingly more sophisticated, our fear-busting muscles for defeating them become stronger. Facing our fears doesn’t happen just once and then it’s daydreams and sprinkles, we have to ante up over and over again to uproot those insidious little stinkers.
If you’re tripping over the same nightmare over and over again, or find one that is clearly not being used to motivate you to do something better, then it has to hit the road. Some of my dream killers have taken years of diligent digging to pluck from my brain-closet and with others I was like, “Oh hey, what are you still doing in here?” and I huffed and puffed and blew them out like a bad birthday wish.
So what do you do with those monsters once you find their nest? Well, ignoring them sure hasn't worked for you in the past, so you are left with the choice to either the set them free/let them go advice or the punch them in the face recommendation. I suppose it depends on what works best for you, but I definitely recommend at least giving it the stink-eye before committing yourself to your plan of action. And if it just refuses to leave or keeps returning like your weird uncle, just pat it on the head and tell it how cute and little it is and that it will need to pipe down because you have real work to do.
Writing this blog, putting my words and thoughts out into the world, is just one of the ways I am flipping my fears the bird. For way too long I wished I were a publishing writer again, but did nothing to make it happen. Now I have an action plan and you reading this is helping me enact it, so thank you!
What would it take for you to eradicate your biggest obstacles? How far are you willing to go? Would you have to stop playing the blame game with your spouse and begin to own your stuff? Do you need some good ole' fashioned therapy so you not so crazy? Your plan of action might be as simple as setting your alarm to workout at 5am if what you want most is to get fit and healthy again. Perhaps you simply need to allow yourself more sleep so you have enough energy to feel present and effective during your day.
Whatever big bad fear is holding you back, I hope you'll swing the doors wide open and send it packing. Then make small steps over and over again in the direction of your best day dream. It’s time to live a better dream, loves.
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