Are you insecure?
I've been feeling insecure lately. I was telling myself, "I just don't know what to do about European VAT taxes." It was looming big, scary, and unknowable. I was feeling like a stupid foreigner and even borderline criminal.
I was really panicking about it, so I began practicing one of my morning rituals of syncing my breathing to my pulse, and slowing them both down. (Full disclosure, I avoided my daily calming routines for a couple of days and just ate chocolate and got overwhelmed until I really needed to address it head-on.) And let me tell you, my heart rate was quite fast and irregular! My breathing, too.
What I noticed is that when I told myself, "I don't know what to do," my heart rate was erratic. When I judged myself for feeling panic, the same was true.
But when I told myself, "I can learn more about how taxes work. I can ask for help," my heart rate calmed down. When I added to that, "I'm so lovable even when I panic. It's ok and human to get scared sometimes," my pulse and breathing slowed and regularized further. And when I decided to take action and seek out the professional tax support I needed, I did feel a spike in fear, but then I was OK.
There's just something awkward about being human. Every time we try something new, every time we need to make a decision without having all the information, there is the potential for self-doubt, a feeling of inadequacy, isolation, fear, and hopelessness.
But those judgments and self-criticism are false.
Feeling a lack of confidence, insecurity, and feeling unsure can lead to a collapse, a feeling of weakness, and getting frozen. But when we accept that every.single.human feels that way sometimes, no matter how hyper-confident they may appear, the more we can give ourselves a little grace.
And a paradoxical thing happens. As we accept our helplessness and fear, the ability to stand tall, challenge ourselves, decide and take action. Taking the next step, even if it turns out to be the wrong one, brings even more learning, more information, and more support. (And FYI, the tax consultant nearly got a headache with my questions and assured me that I'm neither a stupid foreigner nor a criminal - and I did receive the information I needed to make a plan.)
Can I let you in on a secret? You're smarter and more capable than you think. You actually can do the next thing. You can do it even if you're risking getting someone else's emotions in a bunch. You can do it even if you need to ask for way more moral support and empathy than you think is reasonable. You do have power. You do have a community. You can act and create.
For some of us who received more than our share of criticism and less than our share of positive reinforcement as little people, it is sometimes hard to believe. But the more you use your power by taking risks, making decisions, and facing your fears, the stronger you grow.
When have you last felt insecure? Where can you notice in your body the courage to seek the support you need? What happens when you take the next step?
With great love,