Grab Your Security Blanket, It’s Time to Follow Your Heart
Bring “Binky,” This Could Be a Wild Trip
We’ve all been there. Something in us is leading us to take a leap of faith, but the mind freaks out saying, “No no nononono, not safe. You can’t possibly do that. What about ____?”
Of course the mind would say that. It’s job is to keep you safe. I mean, from sabre tooth tigers and such more than, say, career changes. It just doesn’t really know the difference.
The truth is you don’t need the mind’s permission to make a change or take some other risk. You can just say, “Thanks for your concern, but I’m gonna go with my heart on this one.” You can proverbially jump in the car and just drive.
But chances are, the mind is jumping into that backseat and coming along for the ride. And much like a little kid on a roadtrip, it’s going to spend a good portion of the time whining and crying. Doesn’t mean you should let the kid drive the car, but it’s OK to want her quiet and somewhat happy.
So help the poor kid out. Bring her favorite toy or security blanket along. Even if you know she doesn’t actually need her “Binky”, if it makes it a little easier for her, isn’t that worthwhile? Less stress for her, more quiet for you.
What I’m saying is it’s OK to give your mind something soft and comfortable to cling to when you take it on a wild ride. You don’t have to follow the direction of it’s fears, but you can hear them out.
Coddling the Frightened Mind
Of course, as much as your mind acts like an upset child sometimes, a literal blanket isn’t going to be much help. So how do you actually give it that same kind of comfort in real life?
Well, first you need to look at what the mind is most freaked out about. When it says, “You can’t do that. What about ____?” it’s the blank that determines the next step.
Now, naturally, as soon as you satisfactorily answer that question, the mind will come up with a new one. It will say, “Fine, but what about xyz then?” That’s just what the mind does.
You aren’t going to be able to answer all the questions. You aren’t going to fill the car with random stuffed animals. Just deal with the big questions. The ones the mind keeps circling back to over and over, Those are the real sore points, and the ones that need soothing most.
So you take that big question, and find a nice, reasonably safe answer. The mind LOVES safety. Another way you might look at it is to think to yourself, “What would I need to tell my parents to make them less worried about this decision?” Parents also tend to love safety.
Tell it What it Needs to Hear
Sometimes, it is literally a matter of saying something to provide the answer.
For instance, let’s suppose you want to start a new coaching business and your mind keeps saying, “What if no one wants to work with you?” You might say, “It’s just a side hustle for now, so my client numbers don’t matter.” Even if you are in the riskier position of making it your full-time gig, you can still say something to the effect of, “It’s just an experiment, we’ll give it 60 days and I can go get a normal job if I still don’t have any clients.”
Or maybe you want to explore some creativity, and your mind is all like, “You can’t write that. You’ll expose EVERYTHING about yourself!” You can say, “But I just want to write this for me. I won’t show anyone.”
You may be reading this advice, thinking, “That might work, but I don’t want to limit myself like that.” I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Just promise not to tell your mind. You can bend these promises a little later. Now, it’s a fine line, because if you don’t kind of vaguely believe it when you’re saying it, it probably won’t work. But you may find as you carry on down the road, that cranky kid (aka. the mind) eventually dozes off, and suddenly you’ve published a book or left normal jobs in the dust forever. Things are obviously going to change with time. The idea of this practice is to get your mind satisfied with the potential scenario just far enough in the future that it will willingly join you in the present.
And Now for Plan B
Now, there are cases where just telling your mind something isn’t enough. You’ll need to take some actions, give it a real contingency plan.
As an example, when I was in my early 20s I rather spontaneously went to Germany to stay with a family I’d never met, only emailed. I gathered information about alternative accommodations, transportation, and even the address of the Canadian Embassy to carry with me (this was, of course, before phones had data). It wasn’t my gut telling me I needed all that, but my mind (and my parents’ minds) liked me having it, “just in case” the people turned out to be crazy or fake or something. Of course, my gut was right, and they were a lovely family that provided me with exactly what my soul needed at the time. But the experience wasn’t burdened at all by carrying that little contingency plan along, and it helped ease the mind as I prepared to get on the plane.
Real contingency plans can also be a big help with the massive, common to so many minds, worry of MONEY. Yup, sometimes it sucks dealing with financial plans, because it can take some time and attention to pay off debts, save, or do whatever it is you need to do to ease your mind. But, in this magical universe, I think you’ll find that freeing yourself of money worry goes hand-in-hand with opportunities coming up.
Here again, it’s about finding the sweet spot where your mind gets quiet enough to carry on. Because if you keep asking the mind, “Hey how much do you want?” it’s going to keep coming back with a number that is bigger, more secure. But if you check in and say, “How are you with where we’re at now?” it’s either going to say, “Not so good. Kind of freaking out over here,” or “OK, I guess…” Don’t wait for the “but.” Trust those brief meetings of the heart and mind.
The equilibrium point is going to be unique to every person and situation, so I’m telling you to trust your instincts, rather than giving you a formula. For instance, my contingency (emergency) fund is much smaller than the three or six months of expenses most experts recommend. I’d love to have it bigger, but I also stopped prioritizing it when I reached my point of comfort. I was peaceful about quitting my job with about one months salary stashed in a “career transition” fund, but other people might need more, and others nothing at all.
It’s Your Trip, Pack What You Need
The point is you don’t need to feel ashamed for needing more plans or security than someone else to ease your mind. You also don’t need to feel resentful or trapped if that is your path. Have compassion for your worry. See the gifts and opportunities acknowledging it gives you.
Because sometimes being brave and following your heart means saying, “Screw it!” and jumping off the cliff with faith. It’s liberating and Instagram-worthy. But it’s not the only way.
Sometimes being brave and following your heart just means saying, “OK here we go,” and heading down the mountain, one step at a time, trusting the trail to show itself. It’s not as flashy, but it’s still a journey to be enjoyed.
Even if you happen to have a little “Binky” wrapped around your shoulders.