Body-Mind-Spirit - Inspiration for Writers, Dreamers, and Seekers of Health & Happiness
Over thirty years ago I worked as a sales manager at Jack LaLanne health clubs. My aim was to get to know, support, and enroll everyone who came into my office. I was trained to listen for and dissolve objections—obstacles people raised that kept them from doing what they said they wanted (to exercise and get into shape.)
The three most common objections people raised were time, money, and permission. Here’s a snapshot of how I addressed those issues:
These objections were often cover-ups for a prevalent inner one: fear of failure. This was harder for people to articulate, but many I spoke to lacked faith in themselves and in their vision. It was easier to offer excuses than to take positive action, which required courage.
We all want to be happy and fulfilled. It was my job to champion this vision, to help people believe, and to encourage them to take the steps necessary to move in the direction of their dreams.
I liked being an encourager-in-chief—and still do!
In January of this year I took a workshop with master coach, Michael Neill, who had us practice an exercise in which we were told to coach clients by listening carefully and then offering one of two responses. The first response was: “Tell Me More.” The second was: “Not interested.” Let’s take a closer look at how this played out:
Most inner objections are fear-driven. I’m not talking about the fear that keeps you safe; I’m talking about the fear that keeps you small and prevents you from growing and living as fully as possible. This fear is present with every important new venture. Every time you leave your comfort zone, it’s with you. Every moment you experience change and uncertainty, fear hovers.
The key is not to banish fear, which is impossible, but to befriend it, and like with any friendship, it helps to set boundaries. In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes that every time she starts a new book she knows fear will be present. She tells fear (I’m paraphrasing): You can come along on this journey, but your place is in the back seat. If you behave yourself I’ll let you sit in the passenger seat, but you’re not allowed to look at the map or help navigate—and under no circumstances are you to take the wheel!
Let fear come along for the ride—make peace with it—but don’t let it take you for a ride!
Poet and author Mark Nepo suggests we let fear move through us, like wind through a flag. This reminds me of the story of a Buddhist master who hikes with his disciple, points to a huge boulder, and asks, “Is that rock heavy?” The student replies “Yes.” The master says, “Not if you don’t carry it.” It’s helpful to see what we’re carrying.
Are you aware of your own objections to starting or resuming a writing project? Do you tell yourself you don’t have enough time to write? Are you waiting for someone to give you permission? Look at each reason or excuse with compassion. See if you can dismantle the objections fear offers. Look beyond your fear. Refuse to accept it as an authority. Say, “Not interested” when fear rambles on about why you can’t do what you’d like to do. And when exciting ideas percolate, invite them in. Say, “Tell me more!” And listen. Put the great resources of your time, energy, and attention on a vision that brings joy.
Turn that critical voice within into a caring coach. Sell yourself on your own dreams. Why not? What have you got to lose? Life is short. We are here and soon gone. Failure is part of the process. So why not fail greatly? Then pick yourself up, learn lessons, and keep trying. Showing up is what counts. You’ve got to be in the game in order to play. Be generous. Start with yourself.
In closing, I leave you with Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Keep dreaming. Tell me more!
New online writing circles begin August 3rd.