(Inspired by Lesson 1 of Daily Om’s course A Year of Writing to Uncover the Authentic Self)
My biggest obstacle is myself, or rather, my limiting beliefs.
What is standing in my way right now is the fear of not earning money, not being a talented enough writer, and being a talented enough writer but not being able to get my work noticed. Yes, those last two contradict one another. I also have a fear of expressing myself that stems from being a highly sensitive free-spirit raised in a strict, fundamentalist religious household. Keeping my thoughts and feelings secret is a form of self-protection. I worry that my story is not exceptional or dramatic enough to sell but that if I write a purely fictional story it will not be authentic enough to sell. In general, I am uncertain about my ability to sell myself or my work (or anything; sales is not in my skill set).
If I can overcome these obstacles, there will be benefits. Having overcome means that I will have let go of fear or at least its hold on my actions and that I believe that my writing is good enough even when a first draft royally sucks. It means that I believe that my story is relatable, worth reading, and will help others. It also means that if I chose to write a fictional story besides or also to my own story, I have learned enough about life, human nature, and storytelling to create believable stories and authentic characters. These beliefs and letting go of fear allow me to sell myself and my work without even realizing I am doing so. These emotional changes allow my body to live in better health due to lower cortisol levels and better sleep than the days when I was plagued by work-related anxiety dreams every night.
Financially, I will be able to earn anywhere from a modest income to a straight-up wealthy one doing something I love instead of my past of making a modest living doing something that kills my soul day by day. My husband earns enough to pay for the essentials, so I am not under pressure to earn instant income or become an overnight success. Any income earned from my writing will be a dream come true. If I am lucky enough to earn a comfortable or wealthy living from my writing, I will be able to afford ritzy health treatments that will boost the physical healing mentioned brought about by the reduced stress levels.
If I do not overcome these obstacles, I risk a lifetime of depression, regret, being ruled by fear, and missing out on life experiences. In time, I may have to get a job to supplement my husband’s income. More probable than not, the job will not be one I care about or like, and it could end up being another soul killer like my past career. Even if I can find a job I like, it will eat up time that could be used to write the novel that I have always dreamed about. Physically, I could begin to suffer from depression and anxiety-related illnesses. Depending on how stressful the alternate job is the health consequences could be mild to severe.
Have I ever used an obstacle as an excuse not to get started? Yes, more than once. I cannot remember a time I did not regret it. Obstacles are often fear holding us back. But, I think it’s important to remember that some obstacles may need significant time and/or patience to resolve. It can take a lot of rejection letters before an acceptance offer comes. If it’s taking a while to get over an obstacle, it does not mean you have failed.
I would say my longest-running obstacle is financial insecurity. I was born and raised in it, and my parents did not have financial security until I was grown. As an adult, I have done a lot of work on my money mindset and in recent years have noticed signs of improvement. My most recent triumph in this area was, with my husband’s support and blessing, taking the leap of faith to quit my okay-paying but high-stress and soul-murdering job to focus on my writing.
I believe that the obstacle most important for me to overcome is not a lack mentality money mindset, but the trauma response belief that I hold that it’s dangerous to fully express oneself. I subconsciously edit what I show about myself to different people. My weird/controversial/unusual beliefs are the most difficult to express. Deep down, I know that my true power will be unleashed when I am able to express myself freely and authentically to everyone. I have grown a lot in this area since I left my parents’ strict household. The better I get at loving myself and my weirdness the easier authentic expression becomes.
The biggest obstacle I have faced in my life was rebuilding after my relationship with my children’s father fell apart and then my finances fell apart almost at once thereafter. It has taken over a decade of non-stop hustling, lots of self-development and self-care, and diving into my shadows to see what needs to be released. Today, I have a stable relationship with a great guy who is a blessing to me and to my children as well. A guy so great he encourages me to embrace my quirks and chase my dreams. A long and difficult road, but I believe I have succeeded in overcoming that obstacle.