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How can I overcome extreme doubts and feeling inadequate and move forward in my endeavors?

heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
I believe life is a discovery as we age. I am spiritual but not traditionally.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
To be independently successful. Help my children be successful. Be someone that is kind and generous, rather more kind and generous.
My question is how may I overcome extreme doubts and feeling inadequate? I am successful to a point. I have had a lifetime of being told I was stupid and that I was selfish. However I am now in a place of good support. It seems my past keeps me from going forward as quickly as I would like to. Whenever I feel that I am in the flow of achieving I withdraw from fear of judgment and rejections. Though I do not step backwards I do not go further in my endeavors.

I do realize that I need to concentrate on the outcome not focus on the past. I just feel I am trapped in this little circle of fear that I am not brave enough to step out of myself and become the person I know I have the capability of becoming. I have read self help books and been counseled throughout my life. The place I am at presently is by hard work and faith. I was just wondering if you may have light to shed. I know this may be a general issue amongst women - maybe you have something to suggest that I may have not yet stumbled upon. Any suggestions or comments would be welcomed. I appreciate having the opportunity to ask.

Wallace's reply
How can you move beyond the little circle of fear? You say you are not brave enough to step beyond it yourself - but do you realize that you are not alone? God is always ready and available to guide you in your endeavors. Are you drawing on His ability to help and support you?

When lived constructively, life is a continual stepping beyond fear and into love. A healthy life is one where there is continual growth through this stepping out. Your problem is that you have become stuck and as a result your evolution into Love has halted. When this happens life becomes dull, boring, frustrating and fearful. When fear of moving forward appears strong the important realization is as follows:

Maintain momentum towards the growth and expansion of your life by breaking down life challenges into small manageable steps and focus on addressing each step in turn - one at a time.

I feel in a similar situation to you at the present time. I work coaching people like your self on the Internet but this work is done as a public service. I derive no income from it. Until recently I derived a small passive income from some investments I have in property, but with the recent increase in interest rates on our mortgages from these properties here in Ireland, this has changed from income to expense. I now find myself in a position where I have to subsidize these properties by a small amount each month. I also derive income from a small disability pension from the government but this money is insufficient to support my needs. As a result I have begun discussing with my wife, who works as a teacher, how we might cover this shortfall in our income.

In recent months our neighbor has asked me to design and supervise an extension to their home (I trained as an architect before having the disability that prevented me from practicing). Their extension is now nearing completion. I did not request a fee for this work and carried it out as a favor to our friends next door. When doing this work I discovered that there had been a recent change in planning legislation and it is now the case that extensions in people's rear gardens that are under 40 square meters do not need planning permission or building control approval. This makes their design much easier. I also discovered, through discussions with my brother-in-law who is an architect in private practice, that architects in Dublin do not carry out this work because it is too small scale.

Recently I received insight that by specializing in working in this field I could perhaps gain a small income. Eventually this would necessitate giving up my disability pension and becoming self-employed. This would be quite a challenge for me because my disability (I have schizophrenia) means I have days when I cannot work and my mental condition also causes me to be very sensitive to stressful situations - and when I think of this, the little circle of fear that you mention seems to surround me. For me it feels like quite a big step to let go of a small but steady income and become self-employed, when my ability to work is affected in quite a marked way by my disability. Like you I have doubts, I feel inadequate and I feel fearful.

My approach to this situation is to trust God within. God is opening doors for me. Another neighbor further along the street where I live, has begun talking to me about doing an extension for her on a paid basis. As a result of inner prompting I am exploring this as a possibility and have created created a support network to help make the transition to self-employment. My brother-in-law (the architect) offered to support my endeavors with advice and assistance when I asked for his help. I also set up and attend a support group of kind hearted people who each assist one another with their lives.

I am currently exploring ways, with the help of my support network, of providing a professional service to this lady who needs the extension. Momentum has slowed because, like you, the fear is quite strong, but I am keeping the momentum going by breaking down the task of setting up this small architect's practice, into small but discernible steps and addressing these steps in a sequence, one at a time. While I do this I remain focused within to check my guidance remains present at all times.

I know this transition to self-employment is going to be a big step for me when it eventually happens, but I am only focusing on each small step and concentrate on keeping the momentum going by addressing each step as it appears. During this process I am trusting that when the big decision comes to be self-employed, it will then feel like just another relatively small step because I have got to that point gradually through a series of preliminary steps which will have all been dealt with successfully.

So I would encourage to you follow this example, when fear is strong: break the life challenge down into smaller steps and address them one at a time, always checking within as to the next appropriate step and always keeping the momentum going, however slowly progress might seem. I would ask you to remember that it is through accomplishing a small step every day that miracles are accomplished. (This was Mother Teresa's philosophy).

I have sought to answer your question by sharing a situation from my own life. I trust you have found it helpful.

Further Help and Resources
There are a number of articles in our Quick Coach Service on going beyond fear and anxiety that you may find helpful.

Read more questions on this topic

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