You love caring for your family, you live to be outside enjoying nature, and are proud of what you do for work. You're not here to just bring in a paycheck and you aim to make a difference too. If you're like me, you might have ideas and grand visions of what could be possible, but a convincing voice keeps trying to stop you. The voice of skepticism (sometimes camouflaged as realism). This article is for you if you've thought of taking the next step and didn't. It's for the mom with a children's book idea, a grandma that always wanted to go to Bolivia or a single mom that wants to start a business. You are smart enough. You can aim high. Take the first step by muting the voice.
Skepticism, I’m breaking up with you.
I’ve been purposefully not sharing with you things that are important to me. Thoughts I have about where I want to be in 10 years, ideas about how I can change to be more in line with my values, simple project ideas I want to work on, and about what I’m learning in books and lectures. I hesitate to share it with you, Skepticism, because I think you’re going to knock it down.
We used to work together. I thought we balanced each other out. But now when I reflect about it during my morning meditation, you always have the upper hand. I've had enough of you.
The poster I designed yesterday is an example. I’d had all kinds of problems to solve in creating that, and I was proud of it - but the expression on your face when you first saw it was of doubt, disgust and fittingly...skepticism. I certainly appreciate your comments on what would make better text & sentences, but I could also use a “Hey that looks great,” once in awhile.
And to be fair, in this case maybe you didn’t think it looked great, but based on this one response, I’m guarded from showing you anything more. You have valid feedback most of the time, but your dubious delivery makes me uncomfortable and is stressful to share. Even though we’ve been together for 39 years, the “positive sandwich” approach to feedback would go a long way.
Skepticism, it's over.
I wonder about you. How can I understand your position better? Skepticism - your continual paradigms of “Why won't this work?” or “What is in this for them?” and “Someone’s getting screwed,” seem to be a safeguard, some sort of self-protection. Or is it your protection of me?
What is the benefit to approaching challenges your way as opposed to “Why would this work?” Or is that even an accurate description of how you see it? Do you have personal feelings of not reaching success that make you feel like you’re not doing enough? Or that the odds have been stacked against you? Where do your strong objections to this idea of working hard and believing in a successful outcome stem from? The idea inspires me but it seems to completely turn you off and into a spiral of everything that is wrong with American society - and I’m not sure why American, because Skepticism, we’re talking about a concept that is human nature and blind to race and nationality.
Skepticism, I can’t stand to look at you.
There are different levels of success, and I think you are missing the trees for the forest. For example, you’re of the mindset that working and trying hard to reach a goal isn’t fair because so many people in the world are underprivileged and don't’ have an equal start in life. Consider this logic as it applies to smaller challenges...let’s say a painting.
When it comes to painting, the truth is I don’t have innate ability to produce a good painting that I can be proud of. But, if I put the effort in and I find a teacher, take a class, buy the canvas, and put hours upon hours into it - and then ask for feedback (which is scary) and make changes and keep at it for hours and days, then I can be successful with painting. I know this because I’ve done it. You’ve seen me do it.
If, from the beginning I said to myself “Heather, you can’t paint worth a shit, I’m sorry, but chances are that you’re just not going to make it. There are lots of people in the world that try painting and they aren’t successful, so try if you want , but don’t expect it will work out in the end. I’m warning you, you may never come out with something you’re proud of.”
Now that is a skeptical view.
And how different it sounds and feels than: “Hey, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. Get out there and see what happens. Find a teacher, try and fail and try again. Keep at it, and you’ll get there!”
Skepticism, how can you say one is better than another? Both statements have expectations: 1. That I’ll try and fail for reasons out of my control and 2. That I will succeed in spite of the cards I’m dealt. Is one more RIGHT than the other? Is it wrong to try with the intention and expectation of getting there?
There is always a way. Always another person to talk to, a book to read, a change of tone, a different color of red. If the hand of dealt cards is constantly looming as your excuse for not succeeding, then your willingness to try is prone to unescapable death.
Skepticism, you are not welcome here.
So this fundamental difference in how we think and how you perceive my path to personal development is getting me down quite frankly. I don’t want to share it with you, I don’t want to put myself out there, vulnerable to you. I still do sometimes because I think you are interested, but many times I hold back. And that is new for us. Until recently, Skepticism, I’ve felt comfortable sharing every thought and dream, but now I protect my internal drive by keeping all of it to myself.
Am I making you uncomfortable? Am I too distant and wrapped up in my own world? Do I not join enough in our ‘alone time’? Have I made life worse for you by taking on this project? How do you feel about yourself, Skepticism? Are you happy? Is the glass half full? Or full?
Don’t get me wrong, I have a tendency to see the dark side like you. I want to run from fear, failure, spending too much money and from people telling me I’m not good enough. From self-righteousness and ignorance. Confidence is a game of smoke & mirrors most of the time. I mean, do I really have a good idea? Do I have what it takes? Am I just a worthless everyday fraud?
But I have the ability to hold a vision and keep trying, and that is what sets us apart. As soon as I stop trying, I’ve failed. That isn’t to say a pivot isn’t in the future, but stopping isn’t in the blueprints.
Skepticism, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Or maybe I should stop. Maybe I should get rid of this idea and decide it is more than I want right now. I’d rather sleep more, watch TV and scour the internet for factual news. I could do that and forget the stress. Stress with you, with myself, with money. I wouldn’t have to constantly breach my comfort zone all the time. Maybe that would bring me more happiness.
But I already did that with you for a long time. We did it and I enjoyed it, but I have nothing to show for it. I can’t remember movies and I used to mountain bike and run more, but I never wanted to just be an awesome athlete - I like being outside and pushing myself, but that still isn't’ what I’m driven to do.
I’m here for another 40 years tops. I like the philosophy that I can shape my future however I want. And yes, that might NOT be true. It might not be true for people living in China or Africa, but I want to believe it for myself. I can choose to see positive or negative - and by the way, I do see the gremlins. The doubts, the cautionary thoughts, the "what if" monsters. I don't pretend they're not there. Instead, I choose to let them guide me with their suggestions. They can come along for the ride, but they are NOT in the driver’s seat because I am.
So Skepticism, you can shut it.
I appreciate your intentions of being cautious of potential pitfalls and navigating roadblocks, but you've taken it too far buddy. I crave a regular sprinkling of encouragement like “Hey, that looks good”, “Wow, that would be a great opportunity”, “You have so many ideas, have you thought of any others?”, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if…”, and “The best way I can think of to….” But I'm afraid that just isn't your style.
Skepticism, you don't make the cut.
So this is an opportunity to learn more about each other. What I need, what you need, and how we can move on separately. I don’t need to shape you to my liking and you either, but with some extra understanding, acceptance and encouragement, we can both go for what we want and have the success and happiness we define for ourselves.
Skepticism, I’m going after Optimism
When I talk about my vision, my dreams and goals, I believe that I'm going to succeed. Without you, I can say "Yes, of course." Be assured this does not imply that I’m unaware of all the entrepreneurs ahead of me that went into debt or whose dreams got crushed by a market crash or natural disaster. It does not imply that I think everyone in the world has the same opportunities handed to them. I am not ignorant of the perils and inequities of others. I am just saying I Will Get There, and you will no longer tell me I could be wrong.
Skepticism it’s too late.
Since opportunities are often hidden or disguised, I have to keep moving and learning and gaining experience to be ready to uncover the next one. So I don't have time for you anymore. Someday, when I’m far enough along this path, I will give back, and be the opportunity to someone that needs a bit of “luck” to go their way. If they are prepared to take that opportunity - then the cycle will continue. If they don’t try and aren’t prepared, that opportunity may pass them by. Just wait and you will see.
- Fueled by “You can do it.”
- Held back by “You might not succeed.”
- Guided by “Go for it, but watch out for the ________.”
And if I die tomorrow or next year, someone can say “Heather inspired me to try and although she didn't’ reach her ultimate goal, she was successful in making a difference along the way.”