While most people automatically think about relationships when the topic of “commitment phobia” presents itself, there are plenty of ways it can show up.
- Going back to school
- Starting the business of your dreams
- Accepting a new job in a different location
- Starting a family
- Joining a fitness club or hobby group
In all cases, there’s one common thread.
The best question to ask yourself when you feel the first signs of resistance as you consider a new commitment is, “What is the one thing I fear most?”
I knew a woman who was an amazing pencil artist. She could make the most amazing drawings from any photograph. I marveled at her skill. She recognized that with every drawing she was becoming a better artist. She began to consider expanding her skill by joining a painting course. For a few weeks, she went back and forth, all the while struggling with one fear. “What if all I can do is copy a photograph in pencil?” Ultimately she chose not to take the course. The fear of possible failure got the best of her, and she stayed with what she knew her ego felt comfortable with — that which she had always known, always done.
The ability to make a commitment, whether to a painting course or a partner, requires you to be ready and willing to expand your experience. Whenever you face and move through fear, you change. You come out the other side different than you were before.
In another example, a friend of mine who had a very lucrative job was contemplating quitting her job, returning to her small hometown with her son, and finishing her college education. She had experienced great success in her career but kept feeling like something was missing. Her fears were enormous. Returning to college after so many years away left her worrying that she couldn’t manage the academics. Leaving her job and moving in with her family to go to school left her worrying about having the money to complete her degree and take care of her son.
In spite of her fears, she acted on “blind faith” and went for it. When she spoke to the admissions counselor at the University, she learned about a job opening that matched her skills perfectly. She also learned that, as an employee of the school, one hundred percent of her tuition would be waived.
Finding the courage to push through her fear has given her a completely new experience, as well as the opportunity to attain her goal of completing her undergraduate degree.
The difference between these two scenarios is that one woman was ready to embrace her fear and learn what lay on the other side. The other was not.
If you feel stuck in a commitment conundrum, here are three steps to help you move past your fear and into the future you desire.
- Get naked. Yep, take away all the excuses you are using as a cover up the fear and expose yourself. Be honest. What fear are you running away from? Once you’ve identified the fear ask yourself this question: Is it a real fear or is it an assumption of the worst case scenario you can imagine? If it’s real, try the next exercise. If it’s your worse case scenario, enough with the dramatization. Just do it!
- F*@# with fear. The only way to know how deep your fear runs is to challenge it. Take baby steps in its direction. Experiment with getting up in fear’s face. For example, if you’re not ready to take a blind leap of faith to move back to your hometown to finish your college degree, sign up for a class at the local community college. If you’re not ready to jump into a full-fledged painting course, watch YouTube videos, buy paints and a book, and experiment on your own. If marriage scares the pants off of you, live together for a while. If you don’t die from the experiment, you’ll probably be okay.
- Visualize your desire. One of the biggest reasons people cave to fear is because they focus on the fear and not the desired outcome. Whatever you’re focused on, is what you’ll seek evidence of. In other words, if you are focused on the fear of failure, you’re going to find all kinds of reasons why you aren’t good enough, experienced enough, lack the talent… you get the picture. However, if you visualize your desire, you will find evidence to support your achievement of that desire. Visualization connects you to the outcome emotionally, giving you confirmation that what you seek is within your reach.
If commitment phobia haunts you, consider it a perfect opportunity for personal growth. All you need to do is embrace the fear and determine what it will take for you to move through it.
What one fear stands in the way of your biggest dream? What would it take for you to move through it?
Want to know more about moving through roadblocks standing in the way of your dreams? Look right and grab Sheila’s free ebook, “Five Steps to Release, Reboot & Reconnect to Your Dreams!”
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Sheila Callaham is an author, motivational speaker, and life coach. Her forthcoming book, “Living Joyfully: Moving Through Fear to Find Your Happily-Ever-After” will be released later this year.