I’m afraid that I’ll become a homeless person, and that I won’t have health insurance.
I blurted out that sentence to my coach, trying to explain why I was so afraid to leave my job and take some time off. It felt kind of dumb after it came out of my mouth — it sounded so extreme.
But it did capture the real lot of fear I had: I was so burnt out at my job that my desire for rest seemed infinite. I was pretty sure if I listened to those desires, I’d never work again. And then I’d run out of money and have to live on the street and…
But my coach was looking at me calmly. In the most compassionate way in the world, she asked me: “Katie, is health insurance something that you want?”
“Yes,” I told her.
“Well then, I think you can trust that some deep part of you will take care of yourself. Just like you need rest and some space, you also need health insurance.”
She continued, in friendliest way, “Don’t you think that when push comes to shove, you’ll do what you need to, in order to get what you need? Like, if you get low on money and you really have to, you’ll get a job that you don’t prefer, so you can make sure to get the health insurance you need?”
“Don’t you think that you will take care of yourself, when it comes down to it?”
I sat there, dumbfounded in my chair, soaking up how right she was.
To be clear, the point of this story isn’t “quit your job!”. That’s not always the right decision. (Far from it!) Rather, the point is this: You will take care of yourself.
So many of us have similar fears that we would blurt out if we were being truly honest:
If I let myself slow down at work, I’ll never accomplish anything, ever.
If I let myself turn down social events as much as I want to, I’ll never go out again, all my friends will abandon me, and I’ll be a complete loner.
If I let myself eat as many pumpkin cinnamon rolls as I really want, I’ll never stop eating until I gain 200 pounds.
I’ve heard all of these from my clients in the past, and I’ve certainly felt them myself!
But you know what? It’s typically not true that our desires are infinite.
Yes, we want a more balanced relationship with work, but we also want the pride of making an impact.
Yes, we want to rest at home alone, but we do also want to see our friends.
Yes, we want pumpkin cinnamon rolls, but we also want to feel good in our bodies.
So, yes, if we listen to our desires for a while, we may end up staying home or eating more cinnamon rolls than usual. But, eventually, we will reconnect with the other things we want, and find a balance that makes sense.
That certainly happened to me. I eventually left my job and took a few months to completely rest and look around. Then, as I started to feel more rested, making sure that my bank account was healthy became an increasingly higher priority. So I found part-time work, and later, full-time work.
With health insurance, of course.
So I’d like to ask you: What truthful desires are you afraid of because they seem “too big”?