I recently stumbled upon a notebook filled with my old journal entries. I love finding them because they make me feel brave, “Remember when I went through that?!” and remind me how strong I am, “I can’t believe I made it through that!”
I see how I worked through my problems very specifically. ”Feel every emotion to the max, Ishita,” heartbreak survival 101. How I remedied a career mistake: “Scream into a pillow. Write out what could have gone differently. Call Al and regal every mortifying detail. Write how amazing you are in other ways. Have a cup of tea. Make amends with professional person if possible.”
Even a year later, the raw data is invaluable… and hilarious. I see how I got through the moment. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth leading.” I am very intentional about my examining skills.
My ramblings also delight me. I see my personality so clearly; this irritated me, this made me laugh, this friend was amazing, this friend was better left alone, I needed more sleep here, needed better boundaries here. Now I don’t have to reinvent the wheel because even in self-development, efficiency is king.
Write out your process so you can finesse it the next time around.
Finesse is reserved for the second time around. Don’t worry about screwing it up the first time. Just manage the problem better in the future.
I want to share one exercise which stood out: The Worst Case Scenario. In my journal, this looked like five pages of nightmares that could happen in my life. Clearly I was panicked at the time.
- That I’ll spend lots of time and money creating something no one buys.
- That I’ll fail as an entrepreneur and this will stop me from pursuing anything else I’ve ever want to do in life, business-wise or other-wise.
- That I’ll go back to status-quo thinking, where money is the primary concern. I’ll fall into the dregs of society and have to sell my stuff, move in with my parents, and sell drugs or freeze my eggs for money. (Hmm…)
- That “getting by” will be the way I think about things.
- That I’ll have failed at being a Successful Person & will look like a loser.
I forced myself to get granular and GO TO my worst scenarios, instead of just stressing out about it in my head. As I kept reading, I saw how writing out solutions (what I’d do in case the worst case scenario did happen) transformed my fear.
Being specific instead of staying general, I started to see that even if the worst thing happened, somehow I still had a way out.
From my journal:
- I’d get support from my siblings, close friends and family.
- I’d see that I could try again, in another way, to make things work.
- It’s highly unlikely I become a drug dealer or do illegal things because my core personality isn’t to “harm” others, including addictive substances. [Double hmmm…]
- I’ll move back with my parents. Or I’d stay with Abha, Al, Raeshem, Rymn for one week each at a time till I got back on my feet.
- I could go back to school for a traditional career, but this is not ideal. (Even worst case scenarios need preferences!)
- I’d talk to my close mentors and online friends about what I could do.
- I’d be honest with my readers and ask for their support & trust.
- I’d move into a cheap place, cut costs and control spending.
- I’d go back to digital publishing consulting to generate income.
- I’d set up a Kickstarter to fund one of my projects.
- I’d use ALL of my friends strength, motivation, and encouragement to NOT REMAIN COMPLACENT OR HOPELESS (all caps in journal).
- I’d talk to other people in my situation who haven’t given up.
- I could disappear for a while and then come back stronger.
- I’d GO BACK TO MY FAITH AND REALIZE THAT IF I JUST KEPT TRYING, I WOULD GET TO WHERE I WANTED TO GO.
- I’d go back to self-care: exercise, meditating, eating properly, writing.
The solutions were only a bit shorter than my fears, which goes to show there are as many good outcomes to any one of your fears. It’s liberating to go down to the root of your fears and still know you can come out on top.
Take all the worst case scenarios filling up your head and write them down. Think of the terrible fears that may come true and what you’re really afraid will happen.
Now, write down every possible solution and what you would do in case the worst scenario did happen. What if you end up broke? What if your beloved leaves? Write out how you’ll know you’ll still be okay. Like I did, you’ll find the truthiest of truths: No matter what happens – the unthinkable – your core is indestructible.
Your fears will always have equal or better opportunities for you to overcome them.
Remember that. Equal or better.
If you’re going through a hard time right now, this exercise will help. Take three minutes to do it and transform what you’re going through. Share it with me below so we can go through it together. Tell me what’s on your list.
Remember, you’re not alone. No matter how put together people look, we all have our worst case scenarios.
Ishita Gupta is the publisher of fear.less magazine. She worked at The Domino Project, runs the Potential Project, and helps people overcome fear and design their best lives. She also consults for authors and businesses on marketing and publishing. You can also follow Ishita on Facebook or Twitter.
Image courtesy of Ardinnnn.