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Living Your Dream – 3 Strategies for Embracing Fear and Resistance

by Victoria Gazeley

Light through the darkness.

Homesteading, even the modern kind, is ripe with opportunities for fear to rise up and cripple us from living our dream.

In this post, we’ll talk about where that fear comes from and how you can embrace it to finally get your dreams of a more resilient life, in whatever form you desire, into the light.

Before we get started, I want to share with you how fear has affected me on my journey from the city to the country (and since):

  • Stayed in the city for 5 years longer than I wanted to.
  • Stayed in a job 5 years longer than originally planned.
  • Spent the first 3 months we lived in our little cabin in the woods not sleeping because I was convinced all the sounds outside were from some weirdo lurking about in the dark, waiting to pounce (talk about city brain!).
  • Took me months longer to start my business than it should have (I’m still battling this one).
  • Accepted more volunteer work than I could physically handle.
  • Avoided getting involved in community initiatives around food security.
  • Ignored getting our emergency kit and food storage together when I should have.
  • Ended up beating myself up, getting frustrated and almost gave up.

Bottom line – fear kept me from moving forward towards my dreams, and pushed me into frustration, anger and burn out.  Not something I would recommend.

Where Does the Fear Come From?

When you avoid living your dream, something inside you withers.  For example, if you yearn for a life in the country, and you feel like you can’t get there because of your job or other commitments, you get frustrated.

I know I did.

I held myself back because of fear.  Fear of potentially being without income, fear of being isolated on a rural property, and, honestly, fear of being successful.  Sounds crazy, but you’d be amazed how many people are afraid of bringing their individual gifts to the world.

So where does this fear come from?

It’s fed to us from the time we’re little children.  Insidiously, and usually not on purpose.  There’s no one to blame, but it’s there.  It’s always there.  It’s born of family expectations, societal ‘norms’, media, government – even friends, partners and children.  All appear to have a vested interest in you not changing,  in discouraging you from pursuing your dreams, in everything staying the same.

Dreams are belittled, negated, minimized.  We’re told we’re crazy, we’ll be broke, we’re being irresponsible, we could die.  We’re told things that slowly (or in the blink of an eye) eat away at our resolve to follow our hearts and intuition.

Why does this happen?

Because by pursuing your dreams, especially dreams that buck the status quo (like homesteading), you force everyone around you to look at their own insecurities – and their own unlived dreams.  And that’s not very comfortable.

Now, you probably don’t want to leave your family, or for everyone to think you’ve gone off the deep end.  But neither do you want to wake up when you’re 80 with regrets, your biggest dreams dead in the water.  So what do you do?

Fear and Resistance – Embrace and Thrive

Fear is not necessarily a bad thing.

Huh?  Didn’t I just spend 500 words going on about how fear destroys lives?

Why yes, yes I did.  But…

… truth is, fear, and its lovely alter-ego, ‘resistance’, have an important message for you.  In his book, ‘The War of Art‘, Steven Pressfield expresses this idea brilliantly (if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so, regardless of your life situation).

Pressfield says:

“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North – meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.  We can use this.  We can use it as a compass.  We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.  Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.” Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

So what does that mean?  It means that your fear of living more simply, of moving to the country and living off-grid, of leaving your job and starting a small farm – whatever your dream is – is calling you to do just that thing.

The resistance will say, “Oh, it won’t hurt to put it off another year,” or “What’s the point of taking that food storage workshop – you’ll never get out of this apartment anyway.” But now you know.  Now you’re onto its game.

Now you understand that it’s pointing you in the exact direction you need to go.  It expects you to cower, but instead you can say ‘Thanks, my friend, for pointing me towards my destiny.”

Thanks, indeed.

Then you start taking baby steps.  Nothing dramatic at first.  Just get your feet wet. 

And at that point, nothing can stop you, because you know there’s nothing to be afraid of.  That each step towards your dream makes you stronger.  And it makes everyone around you stronger too (even if it doesn’t really look like it for awhile).  That resistance will always point the way.

3 Strategies to Use Fear and Resistance to Live Your Dreams

So how do you get past the paralysis that fear and resistance, until now (before you knew their secret), had you backing off from the life you yearn for?  From taking care of your family in a way that brings you joy?  From learning the skills and meeting the people that will take your life to the next level?

I’m honoured to be able to share with you three strategies that are working for me.  They are both baby steps and giant steps at the same time, and they accomplish much:

  1. “Get over yourself.” My brilliant business mentor, Sandi Krakowski, loves this saying.  At first, it offended me (“What does she mean, get over myself?  Hmph!”), but now I get it.  As Sandi says, “It’s not about you!  The world needs your gift.  What are you denying the world by hiding and letting the fear keep you stuck?” Those might not be her exact words, but you get the point.  We get so wrapped up in our dramas and insecurities, and let’s face it, ‘smallness’, that we fail to see that the big world needs us to show up.  It needs us to follow our dreams.  It needs us to get over ourselves, get out of the way, and let greatness happen.  If you get over your need to be all perfect (um, guilty!), or to have all your ducks in a row (um, guilty again!), a tremendous amount of space is freed up to let life flow.  That is how we grow towards magnificence – by opening to possibility, and by crashing to the ground, getting back up, and continuing down the path.
  2. Reach out to others. To do this, you need to have gotten over yourself and moved your ego out of the way.  Sharing with others, leaning on others and recognizing that you can’t live without others (not very well, anyway) is critical to living a joyful, fulfilled life – especially in a rural area.  It also gets to the heart of some of our greatest fears.  Me, I have had a huge distrust of what I thought was ‘dependence’ for most of my life.  I could wax on about where that came from, but I won’t.  It’s irrelevant.  The truth is that to truly embrace greatness, I need to trust that I’ll be supported, that others will be there for me as I navigate my dreams.  And you know what?  I took the leap, and I’m amazed at who showed up.  Homesteading, in particular, doesn’t work very well as a solitary sport.  We need people.  We weren’t meant to do it alone.  And the sooner those of us who have had issues with being ‘dependent’ on others get over it, the sooner our dreams will become our reality.
  3. Surround yourself with people who truly support your dreams. This goes along with ‘reaching out to others’, but it’s beyond that.  It’s about choosing to listen to people who have something life-giving to say, and not to those who would prefer you stay ‘small’.  Obviously some of those who are comfortable with your not living your destiny are close to you, and you can’t and don’t want to eliminate them from your life.  But learn to not heed their intentions to keep you stuck.  Learn to smile and say “Thank you for your concern”, then carry on.  Absorb the messages of those who truly want to see you become the grandest version of yourself.  Those are the people you want to listen to.  Now just imagine how this could change your world.  How it could change the world…

So there you have it.

These three strategies seem so simple when I see them in print.  The truth is that they don’t come without some pain.  But if you look resistance in the face, note where it’s pointing, surround yourself with people who believe in you, then set off in the direction of greatness, you can’t help but achieve your dreams.

To sum it up, we’re all in this together, and by you living your dream, I’m encouraged to live mine.  And maybe one day soon, everyone will see fear and resistance for what they are – personal pointers to incredible lives.

Now how amazing would that be?

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Revised on March 8, 2011

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan McKenzie January 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I was giving a standing ovation and applause all throughout this article, Victoria! You continue to hit the nail on the head. Through your openness and honesty, you are challenging us to get over ourselves, the biggest obstacle in all of our paths! Well done – now, for me to go and apply it!

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Victoria Gazeley January 21, 2011 at 1:14 am

Susan, you are an amazing support – thank you! Coming from you, whose writing is so powerful, I take your compliments very much to heart. As for applying it, let’s do it!!

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Laura Bergstrome January 19, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Nicely written Victoria, I love this vulnerable tone and honesty. These are lessons to learn over and over. Like you say it looks so simple in print, however fear has many ways of disguising itself and I tend to not realize I’m living in a state of fear… ah much to ponder and bring into action.
much love

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Victoria Gazeley January 21, 2011 at 1:13 am

Thanks, Laura – I’m humbled! It’s always a bit scary to write about personal things like that, but it was easier than I thought. As for fear, I hear you re the ‘disguises’ and the pondering. It seems endless! Thanks so much for your kind words!

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Anonymous January 19, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Victoria, I found such parallels with what I help my clients do, although mine’s more focused on getting past money issues. And that is: Get honest with yourself (and your money), get your head cleared, and decide what you ultimately want to do with your life. Along the way, fear/resistance raises its ugly head. Thanks for verbalizing the solution with such clarity!

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Victoria Gazeley January 21, 2011 at 1:11 am

Excellent advice, Sharon! The money issues feed into so many fears – we’re blessed that there are people like you out there helping us make them work for us!

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Amity Hook-Sopko January 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Thanks for sharing your way through the fear. I had a similar list of things fear had held me from before I finally left the corporate to stay home with my boys. What’s amazing is when you stop fretting about it and just do it, opportunities come in the least expected ways to support you. So glad you hit the Publish button :)

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Victoria Gazeley January 21, 2011 at 1:11 am

Thanks, Amity – amazing what happens when we take the leap of faith!

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Anonymous January 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Oh goodness, my list of how I held myself back would just be way too long! I’ll just say ages 26-39 and leave it at that. :)

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Victoria Gazeley January 21, 2011 at 1:10 am

In truth, my list is probably longer too… ;o)

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Tiffany Johnson January 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Thanks so much for sharing Victoria! Sometimes you think you’re the only who has fears when in fact everyone does. And the biggest scaredy cats are afraid to get in the water. The rest of us are in it screaming and kicking but making our way across. Good stuff!

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Carla January 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Great post for many reasons, too many to list. My biggest fear was not believing in me. Although I’ve built a successful business, it’s almost like I was on the outside looking in. Sandi truly does have a way of pulling the “warrior” out in all of those who want her to. Thanks for sharing these great tips Victoria.

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Rachelle January 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm

You make it sound as easy as 1 2 3!!

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Annemarie Cross January 27, 2011 at 3:04 am

Great strategies to get over fear and resistance Victoria. I LOVE number 1 – get over yourself. Well said!

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