The famed psychologist and scholar, Abraham Maslow, once said:
"One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again."
I'm really experiencing the truth of these words right now. Growth does require facing your fears over and over again.
Last week during a session with my coach, I was trying to figure out why I was so dead set against being an insurance-based provider.
"Am I making this harder than it needs to be?" I asked her, knowing that it would be super easy to get back on a couple of insurance panels and fill my practice with abundant referrals and zero marketing.
Why had I felt the need to make such a dramatic severing of all my ties with insurance companies? I could have done it gradually. I could have kept my practice full as I transitioned to fee-for-service counseling and coaching.
"Maybe I made a mistake" I tell my coach.
"Well" she says "you can always change your mind."
"It feels like back-pedaling" I say.
It’s natural to want to scurry back to what seems to be the safety of the familiar, but that will halt the growth immediately. AND before too long what seemed comfortable, safe and familiar will start to feel like a cage again.
It took me a couple of days to articulate how I knew that changing my mind would be back-pedaling, giving in, and retreating to safety. If I chose to go back to being an insurance-based provider it would be a choice motivated by fear.
I wouldn't be signing up with insurance companies because of a heart-felt desire to do so, it would be 100% a decision based on the illusion of safety and security.
Sometimes we can only see in hindsight how a fear-based decision can set us back.
Many years ago after I had completed my graduate program and was in a limbo-state of being a pre-licensed counselor, I started to freak out. I wasn't making any money (and I had huge student loan debt) and it was taking me FOREVER to get the supervision hours required for full licensure.
During this time, I heard that a manager had left her position at a company where I had also worked as a manager for many years. In desperation, I called the owner and asked if he wanted me to 'help out'. Thank God and all the saints and apostles that he said no...no, no, no.
It would have been so easy to go back to my old life. And it would have taken about 5 minutes for me to feel trapped and resentful and regretful. Once you've had the call to growth, trying to go backward will always feel like a cop-out.
AND I would never have realized how close I actually was to becoming fully licensed and starting my private practice. Going back to my old job may not have shut down my dream but it certainly would have put it even further out of reach.
Scurrying back to safety is just a delaying tactic. Growth is calling you toward expansion and full participation in the outcome of your life.
Take the risk. Choose the growth. Face your fears.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.