I had a dream the other night that after making a big change in my life I walked outside to celebrate, and a huge alligator with menacing claws jumped up out of the sewer system and started grabbing people. As I started to run, I could hear the alligator moving quickly under the sidewalk. I feared it would get me next.
Before you recommend I go to intensive therapy, I want us to think about what this dream tells us about change.
First of all, even the smallest changes take tremendous courage. Jumping into the unknown is always done in direct opposition to our brain. Our brain’s job is to provide thoughts that keep us safe, and these include:
Don’t do that – it’s a bad economy, you’ll never survive, are you crazy?
Dreams feel great when you’re in the planning stage. They connect with your soul and feel right. That is, until the alligator jumps out from under the sidewalk. Then you begin to feel real fear. Or maybe you’ve taken the first few steps towards change and see that it’s not working yet, the money isn’t coming in, the clients aren’t knocking on your door, the book isn’t selling.
Here’s a tip: Change requires fear.
Here’s another tip: Stop waiting for others to be your change catalyst.
Everybody is scared of change. In fact, they are so afraid of the unknown that they’re afraid of your unknown. Seriously. I had a friend once who lost over 100 pounds. While everybody seemed supportive at first, her heavier friends started talking about her tremendous insecurity, and how they felt good about their bodies, and that they weren’t sure they could even hang out with her anymore. She slowly put the weight back on.
Whatever your improvement, change, or dream, don’t expect everybody to support you. When you take a leap, they feel guilty for not taking theirs. Let others know that their dreams and goals and wishes are their own, and if they want to do something differently, or at a different time, or in a different way, then they should. Let them live their dreams, and don’t let them discourage you about living yours.
Most of all, watch out for that inner alligator that you hear slithering in the sewer of your fears. He will jump out at the most unexpected moments, swallowing everything for which you’ve been working.
Instead, work every single day towards your dream. Stop spending all of your time thinking. And when the alligator shows up, tell him he’s not needed. In fact, be so busy doing that you don’t have time to consider him. After a while he’ll find a new source of food.