A Wish Come Clear

Choosing Love, Losing Fear, & Finding Home

Baby, Have I Got News for You … Good News.

I’m having a hard time is a tough place to start.

Walking a peaceful path. Photo Credit: Summer McCreless

But alas, it was true for me a while back. I’d been trying to walk a path of love and trust, but my (metaphorical) feet kept slipping.

Do you know the feeling? That feeling you get when you want to snap out of a critical mindset, but it’s just really, really hard? The way you know better than to judge yourself and others, but you keep doing it anyway?

It was like walking along an icy street in winter. I have good balance; I was a competitive figure skater. Even so, I was … slipping. I didn’t fall, but for a terrifying time, I’d slide into unhealthy thoughts.

You’re not good enough. Your writing isn’t either. Your last post was lackluster. You’re not where you thought you’d be with the blog and reaching a wider readership, and it’s because you’ve screwed up irrevocably. Good luck getting back on track, or ever seeing those crazy dreams come true.

I managed to right myself, but still, I was shaken. I wasn’t comparing myself to others, exactly. Instead, I was making comparisons with an imagined, ideal self … and I was falling short every time.

When I realized that my thoughts were going crazy, I tried to get quiet and listen. When I did, this letter is what I heard. Something tells me that I have to be brave and share it. Someone else might share this struggle; someone might need to read this today. If so, this is for you.

***

My dear,

I hate to break it to you, but you’re scared, honey. There have been some really positive developments in your business and blog lately, and they’ve brought up some old insecurities. You’re afraid, and you don’t want to feel that fear, so you turned to self-blame. I understand.

You are making progress. If there was no progress being made, you’d have no reason to feel such anxiety. In fact, you’re anxious because you’re making progress, because that forward motion is triggering old hurts.

You want, so desperately, to feel legitimate. (And also, you want to be able to spell legitimate without consulting spell check.) You want to feel validated. It’s not subscriber numbers or fame you’re after, not really. Underneath all that, you just want to feel like you’re OK as you are. Loved as you are.

Given this, I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is, all the acclaim in the world won’t give you what you really want. How do you know this? Read the Praise page on your website. You have so many glowing recommendations that a friend of yours actually cried when she read them, because she’s so proud of you.

Yet those acclamations – from fellow writers, clients, and New York Times bestselling authors – haven’t dispelled your fear. They can help you feel encouraged, honey, but they can’t help you feel worthy.

I know you want more of that praise, and I’m glad you’ve received it. I want you to have every good thing. But that’s not what’s needed now.

What is needed? Beginning again. Feeling what you feel. Telling the truth. Doing the next right thing. Connecting with real friends, the kind of people who cry over your website because they love you so much.

And that’s the good news: you already have everything you need. You are already everything you so badly want to be. You may wrestle with that, but it’s true. You already have that acceptance, that validation, that love. It is where it has always been, where I have always been: right here.

 I am always with you. Don’t be afraid.

***

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***

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19 Replies

  1. Camille

    Wow…I needed to hear this today. I love your letter to yourself. It was honest and gave me a good chuckle too…”I hate to break it to you, but you’re scared, honey.” Love it! I am scared too Caroline and need validation that I am OK and loved and don’t have to be perfect. We both know the truth is within. Your writing is fresh like spring water. It just flows into the heart with ease…simple yet complex and multi-dimensional. I love you!

    1. Thank you so much, Camille! I’m so thankful to know you; you’re the bomb. ;) I love you too.

  2. Cassie

    Thank you, Caroline for that beautiful post that I saw on SibNet. I love the focus –

    “I’m having a hard time right now” as a way to begin to share.

    Being valued is fine, but is not what you need, for it will never help you feel worthy.

    And, you are feeling lack of confidence right now, BECAUSE you are making progress, and this brings back old fears as well as new issues.

    I love the letter you wrote, sounds as if you are speaking as God…. but somehow in our current world where so much focus is on competition, money, freedom, we have left out the role of comfort and care, for our working selves, in the process of trying so hard always to improve things.

    Thank you!

    Cassie Quinlan

    1. You’re very welcome, Cassie! So glad to hear that the post resonated with you, and I appreciate a fellow sib’s perspective too.

  3. Caitlin

    Spell check baby! I was spell check would keep my emotions in check sometimes. Though having friends like you to check me is mucho better. As we say, “I’m going report you to Caroline McGraw!!!”

    1. Hahaha that is AMAZING. I can just HEAR a certain person saying that! Thank you for making me laugh this morning, my dear friend. :)

  4. Cassie

    Thank you, Caroline, what a helpful post.

    Wonderful to be reminded, in asking for help, what to say: “I’m having a hard time right now.”

    Noting that the issue is that we are afraid. And we are afraid and self doubting BECAUSE we have made progress, and that brings back old fears along with new challenges.

    And your kind but brilliant words about acclaim and praise: they may help you feel encouraged, but they will never make you feel worthy.

    I love your reassuring reply to the adult/child who is afraid of feeling so afraid. I love your note that instead of rushing to the next task, to stop, listen, feel – go at things in a different way, looking more closely. That way, we can each find how to make progress in tune with our heart, and move forward, forgetting the fears that seemed so overwhelming. Our modern world tries to focus on efficiency and money and business, all valuable, but our deepest values and sense of purpose and meaning can only be remembered in stillness, and we need the Griot, the kind god or mother, to let us know we are already full and wonderful, as we are already.

  5. Cassie

    Oops – I guess my post WAS posted – I had hit the click button twice, got a notice I posted twice, then I could not find any comments at all and so I thought I had lost it and reposted! Sorry! :)

    1. No worries, Cassie — I appreciate hearing more of your thoughts. And I love your observation that, “… our deepest values and sense of purpose and meaning can only be remembered in stillness.” Thank you!

  6. This is a brilliant and beautiful post, Caroline! (I just tweeted it.) I’ve been feeling a similar kind of anxiety lately and you really hit the nail on the head about what’s going on for me (and for so many of us when we move forward on our “hero’s journey.”) So thank you for your bravery in sharing your letter. :)

    1. Jill, thank you so much! That means so much to hear. It’s always reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with feeling anxious about moving forward! Much appreciated.

  7. As usual, we are mentally in sync! Wait til you see my post tomorrow (and the post I still have in my head … ha!)

    Don’t underestimate the power of the step you just took. Acknowledging that you want fame but don’t really want fame is big and powerful. Good news indeed!

    xoxo

    1. Ohh, I can’t wait to read it! :) Thank you for that encouragement, Jen — it means a great deal coming from you as a mentor and friend. Can’t wait to see what’s around the corner for both of us! xoxo

  8. Can I just say: You ARE a good writer. Peace. Thanks.

    1. David, thank you!! I really appreciate the affirmation. And I’ve so enjoyed discovering your blog as well! I especially liked this insight you shared: “I believe that all love comes from the same place. There is not one kind of love for God and another for my wife. They are one in the same.”

  9. Renee

    Very timely post for me, as well. This very topic has been haunting me lately as I struggle with issues of self-worth. Thank you, as always, for baring your soul here, Caroline. I hope you know how much your doing so helps so many of us to feel not so alone in this wild ride called life. Hugs, Renee

    1. I’m so glad the post was a timely one for you, Renee – hearing that it was helpful to you in your journey is what makes baring my soul worthwhile. And being able to share stories here definitely helps me not to feel alone in this wild ride called life (love that expression, by the way)! xox

  10. Happy Birthday, Caroline! (I think I’m late on this… but I hope it was a good one.) So glad to read these gentle words you gave to your doubtful self and were brave enough to share with others. “Doing the next right thing.” I don’t think five truer words were ever written. Wishing you all the best!

    1. Thank you Tara! “The next right thing” is definitely a mantra / lifeline for me – glad it resonated with you as well. And I love your ‘weekly gratitudes’ feature — that’s such a good idea, I may have to take it up as well! xo