If you’ve been reading Hug Your Fear for a while, you’ll remember today’s interviewee. I originally interviewed Louise Watson about how she overcame her fear and quit her teaching job to take time to explore her true passion, writing. Well, one of the fruits of her leap was that her first book, Stop Making Your Life a Misery, was recently published. Her book is all about how she “broke a thirty-year cycle of negativity” to become more happy, confident and at peace. I loved it so much that I just had to ask her to share how she overcame her fear and published this book. I asked Louise five questions and she graciously shared her answers below.
What was one thing that you were scared to do and did anyway? And what exactly scared you about doing that one thing?
I think the one thing that scared me most when writing the book was revealing ‘too much’ about myself. I don’t always find it easy to be open with others so I can appear to be something a mystery to those around me! I suppose when you’re used to just keeping yourself to yourself you begin to fear that saying too much will lead to rejection. I thought people would laugh at some of the things I said; for example in Chapter 4 I talk about my disastrous love life. Part of me was screaming, ‘What are you doing, woman? You can’t tell people that!’ But I decided my embarrassment around the topic was one of the reasons I had to go ahead and do it, because so many people are in the same situation and their shame keeps them from speaking about it. As a result they stay stuck with this mentality that love is something that happens to other people and not to them, and I wanted to help them see that they don’t have to feel that way.
I was also fearful of talking about things that have happened to me in the past. Even though I don’t go into a huge amount of detail, I was still worried that the other people involved might read it, recognise themselves and come round and get me! I came to realise that it was my ‘old self’ creeping back in; the one who was too afraid to stand up for myself. I always allowed people to treat me badly and didn’t say anything because I was too scared of being left on my own or making someone angry. I reminded myself that I hadn’t named names in the book, that I had tried to be compassionate to others and hadn’t blamed anyone else for anything – after all, the whole point of the book is taking responsibility! But above all I told myself that I had a right to express how I felt about my experiences, something I had denied myself too often in the past.
What did you do or what happened to help you ultimately hug (overcome) your fear and do that thing?
As I said, a lot of it was talking back to the negative voice in my head and reassuring my ‘old self’ that everything would be fine. I also reminded myself that I had similar fears when I had my first article published on Tiny Buddha and that a year later it’s still receiving great comments from people saying how much it’s helped them. I think that’s one of the main things that helps me to carry on when the self-doubt creeps in; reminding myself that it’s not all about me and that other people might benefit from hearing what I have to say.
Another thing that has helped is to tell myself that I’d been doing the same thing for most of my life; shutting down and hiding myself away through fear of not being good enough. That’s partly what made me so unhappy, so perhaps trying something else might be a good idea! In fact it’s only since I began to do things differently that I’ve seen my life start to improve, so it’s odd that I still need to remind myself of that sometimes, but I do.
Are there any books, practices or other resources that helped and/or continue to help you hug your fear?
Last time I mentioned A Course in Miracles; well I’ve actually started to read and study it now! It’s been a great help in reminding me that if I’m feeling afraid, it’s because I’m looking at things the wrong way. Keeping a regular yoga and meditation practice has also helped. I’ve got much better now at catching the negative thoughts before they have a chance to take over.
It’s also been great that I’m still in contact with some of the people I met on Screw Work Let’s Play’s 30 Day Challenge, an online programme I did back in November. Being able to share my fears with people going through the same experience of venturing into self employment and putting themselves ‘out there’ has made me feel a lot less alone and reminded me that we’re all the same; even those who appear the most confident have their own insecurities to deal with. Finding someone who’s going through the same thing as you, whatever it may be, really does help and thanks to the internet that’s much easier to do nowadays.
As you know, I’m also learning to play the piano, and practising that every day helps to keep me calm and take my mind off anything I might be tempted to worry about. I know not everyone will play an instrument, but having a hobby of some kind that you can get ‘stuck into’ does help you to stay in ‘the moment’ and not get carried away with your fearful thoughts.
What would you say to someone who wanted to do something that scared them, but was struggling to take a step?
I would say the first step doesn’t have to be anything big. Take teeny tiny steps if that’s all you can manage now. It might be just doing some online research, sending someone an email or going along to a meeting. With every step you take it gets easier.
It also helps to look back at other times you’ve been afraid; for example when I started teaching I was terrified; now when I look back I can’t believe how nervous I was. It’s like looking at a different person. Remembering that helps me when I’m feeling sacred now; I tell myself that I always feel that way when doing something new and it will pass.
And I know it sounds clichéd, but we really do regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do. I’ve met so many people who have said things like ‘I wish I did this’, or ‘I really want to do that but I’m too scared’. I remember when I used to say the same thing, so I know how it feels; wanting something more for your life but just being too afraid to go out and get it is a pretty depressing way to live. You see other people going for it and wish you could be like them, if only you were braver, more confident or whatever. What I’ve come to realise is that it’s by taking those first steps towards your goal that you become more confident in yourself and your abilities.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I think I’m proof that anyone can overcome fear and go for their dreams. I used to be painfully shy (still am in some circumstances), had no confidence whatsoever, was sometimes too scared to even leave the house on my own and my ambition in life was to find a job where I could sit in an office somewhere, get on with my work and not speak to anyone all day! If anyone had told me that years later I would write a book and publish my work online, I’d have laughed at them. Then probably go home and cry because I thought I’d never be able to do anything like that. Really, if even I can do it, anyone can!
So there you have it? Are you inspired? I am! If you’re looking for some inspiration and struggle with fear and self-doubt (which I’m assuming you do because you’re reading this blog!), I fully recommend reading Louise’s book. She’s not paying me to say this and I get no cut of whatever book sales she has, I just genuinely liked her book and felt very inspired and reassured while reading it. If you want to follow up with what she’s doing, visit her Facebook page here.