This is a continuation of my article The Secret to Overcoming Fear. If you missed part one, you can read it here.
F-E-A-R (False Evidence Appearing Real)
So, What Am I Really Afraid Of?
Figuring out what was really keeping me from finishing my manuscript and launching myself as an author was not an easy process. The only way to truly learn what was blocking me was to have a real in-depth conversation with my sub-conscious and identify any negative beliefs that I held that caused this insanely strong fear of rejection, a technique I read about in one of Tony Robbin’s books.
So, I decided to externalize the dialogue in written form so I could hopefully get to the bottom of my issues and effectively deal with my fears once and for all, and become that successful published author I dreamed of. I needed to know what was keeping me from achieving my dream.
I began by asking myself a simple “why” question in an attempt to get to the heart of what was really behind my problem and identify any thought patterns that might be subconsciously affecting me. With each answer, I continued to drill down deeper to try to get at the root cause of my issue. Here is how my internal dialogue played out:
NOTE: My thoughts about what was revealed to me through the inner dialogue exercise are displayed in pink below.
Q: Why have I not finished my manuscript?
A: Because I am afraid that I will spend all this time and effort writing it and then nobody will want to publish it. Then I will disappoint myself and others who believed in me yet again.
Q: Why do I believe that nobody will publish it? Who are the others I’m afraid of disappointing?
A1: Because I don’t really believe my writing or my ideas are good enough.
A2: My family believes in me and have always been supportive, even when I failed in the past, [Since it seems like my family is very supportive, perhaps, I am more worried about disappointing myself] but I don’t want to disappoint them by starting yet another thing and either not finishing what I started or failing at it. So, isn’t it easier to never even start? [It sounds like I am using my family and not wanting to disappoint them as an excuse. There has to be something deeper going on here.]
Q: Why do I believe my ideas are not good enough? Has someone told me that? If my family has always supported me in the past, is there any reason they would not support me in this as well?
A1: Because I always have new ideas that come to mind for new stories that always sound better (more interesting and exciting) to me than what I am currently working on, and I feel that I should follow those idea, that they could be better than my current one. [Could this be reflecting a belief that the “grass is always greener”? It sounds like I am using these ideas as an excuse to start something new and not finish what I am currently working on. It appears that I am self-sabotaging here to keep from having to send out a manuscript, but why?]
A2: No, my family and beta readers have been really complimentary of my writing and my story ideas and have encouraged me to continue. [This shows that this fear is not accurate, that others actually like my writing and believe it is publishable. I seem to be using this as an excuse.]
A3: No, they are very supportive and just want me to do something I love. They believe I am a talented writer and that someone would definitely publish my manuscript if I ever finish one. [This confirms that my reason of not wanting to disappoint my family is just an excuse.]
Q: Why do I continue to self-sabotage my writing by not finishing manuscripts and by jumping to new manuscripts before the old one is finished?
A: Because I know that once I finish then I actually have to send it out and risk rejection. [I think this is getting to the heart of things. I really am deeply afraid of being rejected. But why?]
Q: Why am I so afraid of rejection? What’s the worse thing that could happen?
A: I have been so miserable in my previous career paths and have always been looking for a career that would bring me joy. It took me a really long time (I’m 47) to finally figure out what that is (writing and becoming a published author). But, instead of being happy that I finally figured it out, instead I am afraid that my manuscript will be rejected, which will mean that I will have failed at my dream. I feel like this is my last chance to get it right as far as a career goes, and if I fail at this, how can I ever go back to working in a job that I hate just to pay the bills. I did that for so many years and don’t ever want to have to experience that again. Perhaps in some way I that by not finishing a manuscript, I can somehow avoid being rejected which to me seems better than being rejected and have to face that I am not good enough to be successful in something that I really want to do. [W-O-W!! There it is! I have finally gotten to the heart of my subconscious behavior. I have been sabotaging myself and my writing to prevent rejection, which my subconscious mind equates with spending the rest of my life unhappy working in a job I hate to pay the bills. That is pretty big stuff!]
My issue went so much deeper than I ever could have imagined. I was so happy when I finally connected with my passion to become a writer because I knew that in order for me to be really happy, I needed to find a purpose and do work I enjoy, that pays the bills, and that allows me to work at home and be my own boss. That’s why my failing to finish a manuscript was such a big shock to me. I kept telling myself that you can’t become a published author until you have a finished manuscript. I knew this, yet still continued to sabotage myself by allowing new ideas distract me from finishing it.
So, you can imagine, this last answer was a painful realization for me. I had no idea that somewhere deep in my subconscious mind, this deep-seated fear existed. It was a real revelation. Now that I know it exists, I am going to work really hard to deal with it, so I can stop sabotaging myself and finally complete my manuscript without worrying about rejection. Heck, if all else fails, I can always publish it myself!
Going through this inner dialogue process brought hidden fears and resistances to the surface so that I can now consciously acknowledge them and begin to work through them and hopefully one day soon, finish my current manuscript.
Are you brave enough to track down and overcome your hidden fears? Try the “Why” exercise demonstrated in this post and let me know your results. I’m expecting to hear great things from you.