Surf the Scared
“But I’m scared.”
I asked my son to go to the hallway closet to grab a towel, and he didn’t want to because it was dark outside. I gave him a flashlight, I told him I’d be right here watching, just turn left, it’s right there, so near!, but he was rooted to the spot.
Vivid flashback to — oh, everything I do.
90% of the online business job description is being scared.
Creating content? Scary. Hitting publish? Scary. Promoting a new offer? Scary. Putting yourself out there but no one might notice? Scary. Putting yourself out there but people might notice? Scarier.
Asking people to take a chance on me then making a fool of myself? Committing mistakes publicly? Not knowing what I’m doing at all ha ha ha?
When something didn’t go my way, I used to go away. One bad comment about something I’d written? I’m a shit writer, bye, burn, draft, burn. No one signed up for my thing? I hate everything, I’m a failure, I can’t do anything right, I quit. Something I did wasn’t perfect on my first try? Why. Bother.
But when I wrote my book in 2016, somebody asked me how I eventually finished it and launched it.
Well … uh, I needed money.
Though because I needed the money, I had no choice but to keep going until it was written and I eventually sold enough copies. I said this two years ago and hard same:
I don't think making mistakes ever feels less uncomfortable, but after a few (a lot) of them, I got comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortable.
It’s letting myself feel asldkfjaldipek if I feel alkdsjfalksd, and riding that feeling out. Surfing the Scared instead of running away from it, or letting it paralyze me and keeping me stuck.
I borrowed the name from Dr. Andrew Tatarsky, who does therapy for people with substance use problems using a harm reduction / compassionate pragmatism framework. His technique is called Surfing the Urge, i.e., the urge to use a substance. He explains it as “learning how to sit still and, over time, tolerate the associated distress or tension so we can bring more reflection and choice. This opens up the possibility of bringing a number of strategies to this moment that empower positive change.”
It’s like putting stress and fear in my pocket. Allowing it to hang out with me, but also saying, don’t get in the way, okay?
Sometimes I can breathe through it. Other times write down a list so it’s not all in my head. I’m still learning to not freak out, but it’s also something that gets much easier and much more automatic over time.
Many times I see, ah, Old Mikli would totally panic over this. But! New Mikli! … is, okay, still panicking, but she’s no longer as panicky.
And not being panicky allows me to think with a clear head, find solutions, experiment, make mistakes, and overall Do Things, even when I’m scared.
I’m always scared. I’m still scared.
But that’s okay, as long as I get to pay the bills.
(And my son gets his towel.)