Handling Fear when Following an Unconventional Life

Handling Fear when Living

Written by Matt

I felt compelled to write this to just vocalize the current state of the feelings around the Owen household. As we near in to the last day of regular employment, we have had a ton of varying emotional experiences. We oscillate between excitement and fear. These emotions have shown up in a lot of different ways in our communication with each other and our interactions with the rest of the world. It hasn’t all been pretty, but it has been our experience and I’d like to share it.

We worked hard, made a plan, and are executing on that plan… what could be wrong? Well the FUD always has a way of creeping in (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) did we make the right decision? Will the van survive our travels? Will something I install murder us in a crash? All things that have floated through my mind in the last few weeks. Some more morbid than others.

Is this What Freedom Feels Like?
Is this What Freedom Feels Like?

I think both myself and Allison underestimated the emotions that would come up when we decided to make this choice. To leave work, leave our house, leave our friends, and strike out on our own. A decision that we both ultimately know is right for us but none the less is generating a whole range of emotional responses. We are so excited for all of the places we will see. The new people we will meet and create friendships with, the opportunity before us with our businesses and the people we can help and support. Seems all gravy, after all we had a plan right?

While we are excited by these things we still have Fear. Are we doing something crazy? Will we enjoy this new life? Will we have enough money? Will the businesses work? I can find myself catastrophizing and ultimately finding my way down the rabbit hole until it ends up with death. Basically, you follow any negative internal thought far enough and I end up at death. After all, our minds are programmed for survival, and fear is just False Evidence Appearing Real – We think we are going to die…. But we aren’t.

MALLI FOREVER
MALLI FOREVER

Really it comes down to how we manage and embrace the fear of change and uncertainty. Tony Robbins talks about 6 core needs of all human beings and ironically both Certainty and Uncertainty are on that list. Why both? Because we all need certain things that are fixed and stable in our life but we don’t want too much certainty or things get stale and boring. We are extraordinarily complex and this duality between certainty and uncertainty is different for everyone. We are seeing some effects of pushing this balance pretty far to the uncertainty side, however, prior to our choice to pull the trigger we definitely saw some effects of being reasonably far into the certainty side.

Notice I just said Effects, both good and bad are present at both ends. Right now we are generating a lot of stress which has been a real eye-opening experience to learn more about mine and Allison’s relationship and how we communicate, what we need from each other, and how to relate to myself and my inner critic.  It has shown some cracks that during our previous meandering lives of 9-5 routine went unnoticed and unrepaired. So, I am doing my best to practice mindfulness and stay present during this experience and use it as an opportunity to grow personally and as a couple. There are opportunities and silver linings in every life experience.

Guide to Surviving Fear

  1. Stay Grateful

    Gratitude keeps you grounded. However you like to practice it, through a gratitude meditation, or taking a moment before small things like meals, or hot showers, to reflect on the fact that every single person’s problems are relative. That there are many who live a wonderful and fulfilled lives on far less than us. Less financial resources, less community, less health, and that no matter how your new situation turns out… your brain is wrong, and it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to end in death.

 

  1. Stay Present

    This goes hand and hand with gratitude above. When we are so wrapped up in change and thinking about what we need to do or what we wish we should have done to prepare, we are living in the past or the future. Too much Past can make you depressed. Your inner critic takes over and really hounds you about the chances and choices you had, that you made incorrectly. They really are the worst Monday morning quarterbacks and remind you that you should have had 20/20 foresight like they have 20/20 hindsight.

    Too much Future can create overwhelm. We spend so much time projecting and planning this perfect (or not so perfect) path from A to B even though if we step back, we know that we can’t tell the future. We are planning and worrying, investing mental energy, and if we think about previous times we’ve done this. It never went down just like we imagined it would. So why spend the energy creating this false trajectory just to have to adjust course and make adjustments in the Present anyway…

    Presence is not easy but I’ve been practicing taking miniature moments of meditation. I’ll be working on the van and step out to see a beautiful sunset forming… I take a moment to appreciate the small things and try to just enjoy being. To enjoy the work I’m actively engaged in as opposed to constantly thinking of the future.

 

  1. Have Faith

    You need to bank on yourself! You’ve made it this far. Look at your life in the past and likely you’ve come up against tougher odds and come out the other side. Sometimes we pick up some scrapes and scars which turn to lessons and bad ass stories for later. But in general… we look back on it years later and realize that wasn’t so bad. We are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for and in times of stress and turmoil just remember that things have a way of working themselves out. They have in the past, and they will in the future.

Do you have any other tips and words of wisdom for us? Any things that helped you through your own stressful transition?

We'd love to hear them! Drop us a line in the comments below and

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Gloria owen
Gloria owen
4 years ago

Be true to yourselves and each other and all will be well !!