The Power of Intention in Facing Your Fears
Procrastination is the bane of my existence. I contend with it every day. Some days it takes a form of a tasteful nudge, other days it escalates into a battle, and sometimes I become defeated as I succumb to the suspension of most of my activities. I find that I procrastinate even when I have to do something I really like. This became a liability a while ago and I decided that I needed to investigate into the cause. What I found was not too pretty, but it also led me to a quite simple and elegant solution. Act with intention.
A while ago I realized that I needed to create my own Meanings in order to gain any motivation to get up from my bed in the mornings. These Meanings are the concepts that give color to my life and that allow me to be confident in my own sense of agency; and they have to be custom tailored just for me in the context of my life.
Nowadays, I find myself procrastinating even as I’m doing things that are on the path to my Meanings. It seems so simple: I have my “why” and I’m designing my “how”, I have the list of things to do that I should be excited about, but I procrastinate, and procrastinate, and procrastinate. This predicament was mysterious to me because I put off doing things that mattered to me. It began to frustrate me, and I wondered whether it was high time to begin asking my inner self questions about the cause of this unruly procrastination instead. It was my usual process that I have used for years to think my way out of the deepest shit I have ever found myself in.
It starts with “catching it”. “Try to catch it, try to catch it” … Try to catch that emotion that stops you in your tracks and that makes things so unimportant and dull. After a while I did… it was fear. Fear of what though? To find out where the fear was coming from I needed to catch that fear too. I didn’t have to chase it; it was waiting for me right around the corner. It was the familiar racing of the heart, the unsavoury sensation in my chest, and a pinch of nausea. “Hi, Fear. I see you. How did you get here, buddy?” The thought which gave birth to this fear was not an easy prey. It took an untold amount of times sitting with Fear in order to hear the thought that what was birthing it. It was challenging not only because it was such a microscopic thought, but also because it was tough to admit its existence and to be honest with myself.
The thought was “This will probably lead nowhere again. No matter what you do you will always end up a failure.” A failure? Damn, that was a bit harsh… I stayed with it for a minute or two, and as I vocalized it, it began to sound very familiar. It was the collective voice from poisonous relationships. It belonged to the people who had been so insecure they needed to put me and everyone else down to make themselves feel better. I assimilated their ideas about my abilities so well that they now made a cozy home inside my head. I was irritated and angry at that.
Wait! So, there were two questions now: why irritation and why anger? That one was not overly hard. The irritation came from helplessness and anger came from fear. Why did I feel helpless and why was I afraid? I question my inner self until we are blue in the face, until there is nowhere else to go; and it pays off. The inner self kindly revealed that I felt helpless to change the outcome and I was afraid of the disappointment of failing. Because I was resigned to the outcome that was already prescribed to me by all those unpleasant people, the disappointment seemed unavoidable; and because I was afraid of this disappointment, I stopped what I was doing to avoid it. Boom!
So, what is one to do about a situation like that? I decided that my belief into the negative outcome was at the root of the problem. How could I challenge that belief? Speeches, pep talk, and affirmations do not make a dent in me. I require something tangible in order to change my belief. Our actions are the brushes of our lives and only they can provide for real change. But how can I take action if I did not believe in the outcome? Would I allow these pre-programmed beliefs take away my goddamn brushes? I dwelled on this issue for days. Oftentimes, I get the best solution to the problems when they are simmering at the back of my mind. And so, as I went through the cycle of “helplessness – fear – procrastination” time and time again, I realized that my actions were actually not attached to meanings.
What I mean to say is that the actions were attached to the big picture meanings, but they had no clearly delineated immediate purpose. So, I began to attach small meanings to small actions. I think that the better way to describe those small meanings would be Intention. Intention can be sweeping, inclusive, and grand; but it can also be contained, regulated, and minute. It provides for security within myself, it gives me structure, and it creates my own “rooting for Roxanne” team.
I cannot control the Universe but I can intend a whole bunch of awesome things. I would do things because I knew why I was doing them and because they were intended for a specific purpose. I realized that for decades majority of my actions were taken because someone else thought it was a good idea or because it worked for someone else before me. So, it appeared that I was plucking stepping stones out of other people’s paths without any particular order or plan. I never truly designed my own path and that is why I was so unsure in the outcomes of anything I might do. I had other people’s voices telling me about my outcomes because I did not design any of my own.
It seems so simple but without this self inquiry I do not think I would be able to come to the realization that when I do anything it must make sense to me. I have begun practising this philosophy and I noticed a few changes. I cooked more meals at home because it was not something that I read in some article but because it made sense to me. I did more yoga because my intention was to stretch, and when I didn’t… Well, it’s because I did not intend to stretch that day and that was alright. I created more content because my intention was to do just that. When my initial intention and the result of my action match, it gets imprinted in my brain as success. To my brain little successes are just as tangible as the big ones are. And as I move through my day fulfilling my intentions one after another, my emotional brain is coming to grips with the concept that I can be successful and become the best at what I do.
Learn more about life in the Catalyst Coaching Intensive here.