I’ve led a pretty charmed life. I grew up in a small college town in the midwest where my mom let me eat raw cookie dough and play out in the woods all day, completely unsupervised. My dad still plays grab-ass with my mom after 40+ years of marriage. I see them every weekend at the beautiful lake house they just bought – my mom still lets me eat raw cookie dough.
I always found really great jobs doing graphic design and eventually quit the corporate world to join forces to create Braid Creative with my sister. I get to work with creative entrepreneurs and blog all day long. I even got hired by my hero Brené Brown after I caught her eye with a book review I did on Daring Greatly. I have two great full-time employees, a cute office that we call our “nest”, and I’m making more money than I ever have before.
I have a really nice husband. He does all the dishes AND the laundry. We like to make out and travel the world together. From Nepal to Poland to Mexico and back. The moment we decided to add a baby to our crew I got knocked up. First try. I’ve had a puke-free and uneventful pregnancy.
All of that to say: life is pretty damn good.
So what’s the problem? The problem is what my dad calls “The Crack of Doom”. Basically, anytime something really great happens I find myself on guard for The Crack of Doom – an equal and opposite reaction to the bad. A metaphysical law of sorts that is always looking to neutralize the good stuff with a healthy dose of bad. If I’m on my way to a dream vacation I worry about the plane crashing. A healthy pregnancy has to mean a terrible labor and delivery is in my future, right? I better save that awesome income because it could dry up any day now. And that sweet husband of mine… I better enjoy him before he dies in a fiery crash on the highway tomorrow. I can easily let myself spiral into a tailspin of fear and worry that usually involves a really gory scene of death, blood, and grocery carts filled with aluminum cans.
But I’m not here to share my deepest, darkest neurosis. I want to share what has helped, and still helps, me get over my fear of The Crack of Doom:
• Meditation. Through meditation I’ve learned that the Universe is all good and wants each and every one of us to create and make good. It’s woo-woo but I’ve found it to be true.
• Positive Visualization. I recently heard that fear and worry is a prayer for what you don’t want to happen. Why would you waste the energy on that!? So when I find myself on a path of negativity I say out loud “Stop it, Kathleen.” From there I force myself to replace the negative thought with the outcome I actually want to happen.
• Negative Visualization. Now, this sounds completely counter-productive but after reading A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy I’ve learned how to use negative visualization to be grateful for what I’ve got right here, right now. I highly recommend the book to anyone who could use a philosophical dose of chill-the-eff-out.
• Choosing Wholeheartedness. Have you all heard of Brené Brown? If not, watch her TED talk on Vulnerability right now. Then read her book Daring Greatly. I promise it will change your life. Her work taught me that nothing is certain, and that’s okay. That vulnerability is the key to love and that you can’t be brave if you aren’t afraid.
• Asking “Is It True?” When I start freaking out over something that hasn’t even happened yet I’ll ask myself “Is it true?” The answer is almost always “no.” This simple question allows me to be present with the reality of whatever situation I’m in – which is usually pretty awesome.
Kathleen Shannon is the co-owner and creator of Braid Creative & Consulting – where she and her sister do branding and business visioning for graphic designers, photographers, coaches, and creatives. Kathleen also blogs about her life, work, and adventures at And Kathleen.
Krystle: I have a tendency to look very “zen” to outsiders, but my head is swirling with the same terrible accidents and bloody endings that you mention. Meditation is a big one for me, but another thing I do is take “me time” when I’m slipping into the dark place. The rule for me time is that I can do whatever I want and not feel guilty. Recharging with my favorite Sudoku app or watching a Netflix series (involving the color orange) is my way of telling the Universe to simmer down.
Fear Confessions is a series of essays by creatives who share personal stories about facing their fears. It’s a celebration of vulnerability.