Before we moved away from the city last year, leaving everything we knew behind — including jobs — I had a panic attack.
We were prepared. It had been planned for three years and we were ready to take a “calculated risk”. And then the SOLD sign went up on our front lawn and I started to freak out.
It was my mother-in-law who calmed me down. She played a little game with me and it went something like this:
What’s the worst that can happen? →We might not be able to make a living up there.
What then? →We could run out of money.
What then? →We’d have to sell our house.
What then? →We’d have to move back to the city.
What then? →?
By the time she was done with me, I’d figured out that the worst case was that we’d have no money left. It sounds awful and while it’s true that the prospect of losing everything is an unpleasant one, it’s not something to fear.
Fear has no power once you look under the bed.
Here’s one more, playing with a fear that some of you might be familiar with — the one about writing and publishing full out, in your one true voice, writing what you really think and what really matters to you.
What’s the worst that can happen? →Readers will hate it.
What then? →They’ll say bad things about me, maybe even on social media.
What then? →I’ll be upset/hurt/angry.
What then? →?
It’s a cool exercise in the face of doing something risky. With each “What then?”, there’s an outcome that may not be so great, but it’s not something to fear either.
In the case of my writing, the worst case is that no one ever likes it and I have to accept that it’ll be a private pleasure for the remainder of my days. Is that something to fear? No.
Will that stop me from writing it? Absolutely not.