Setting Yourself Free from the Fear of “What If…?”

Friday 10 April 2020 - Posted by Julia McCutchen

The Native American Shaman leads the way and as dusk falls we head deep into the wilderness.

The fear that I’ve been trying to suppress now breaks free and surges through me with a cold terror that escalates with every step.

I would have preferred not to know that the recent rain is likely to bring out the rattlesnakes.

Completely Alone

Finally we reach the place where I’ll spend the night in the Colorado forest completely alone for the culmination of my Vision Quest experience.

My stomach rumbles, empty from the fast that prepared me for the Sweat Lodge Ceremony which cleansed me from the inside out like never before.

The moment has arrived.

The Shaman leaves.

What if…?

I’m alone with a small flash light, a bottle of water and a sleeping bag for company.

Every sound triggers a sharp intake of breath as I imagine a rattlesnake approaching and my pounding heart responds as if it’s true.

What if that happens? What will I do?

I have absolutely no idea.

The temperature drops as the darkness closes in and it feels like time stands still; yet hours pass.

A Significant Choice

Eventually I lean my rigid body back against the nearby tree. A solid trunk supports my back and towers above my tiny form.

Not long after, a realization bubbles up and I know there’s a significant choice for me to make; to remain paralysed by the fear of “what if…?” or to set myself free by looking it straight in the face, and simply letting go.

In that moment, it feels like invisible arms reach out from the tree and wrap me up as I take my first deep breath for what seems like forever.

Tears of Relief

As the exhale follows, tears of relief stream down my face. I feel infinite gratitude for the tree’s ancient strength and drop into a deep surrender that washes through me and calms the inner storm.

I find myself in full acceptance of all that is; including the possibility that a rattlesnake may come at any time.

What if it does?

I still don’t know what I’ll do.

Yet having made a conscious choice to set myself free from the fear of “what if…?”, at last I’m able to let it be and immerse myself in the moment of being here, now.

Extreme Bliss

I lift my gaze and notice the magnificence of the clear night sky full of sparkling stars.

A shooting star streaks across the inky darkness; then another, and another… and from one extreme to the other, I enter a state of extreme bliss where separation dissolves and all is one.

Finally I’m ready to receive a vision and between the worlds of night and day I’m transported to a different realm…

Enormity and Grace

In due course, the first hint of light signifies the return of the life-giving sun.

I stand in deep humility to greet the day and my heart overflows with appreciation for the enormity and grace of my Vision Quest experience.

Any Type of Fear

This story is about a specific kind of fear that taught me an immensely valuable lesson that I’ve applied to many different situations ever since.

The same principles can be applied to any type of fear.

Creative fear, for example, is usually more subtle although equally powerful and can block progress on personal and professional projects alike.

There’s a long list of possible fears that lie at the root of ALL creative resistance such as, what if I…

  • Fail?
  • Succeed?
  • Feel judged?
  • Am criticized?
  • Fall short?
  • Am ignored?
  • Become famous?
  • Am not good enough?

Creative fear takes many different forms and often masquerades as something else or lies just below the surface of your conscious awareness to avoid detection.

Struggling endlessly to make a start on crafting the latest online course you’ve been thinking about for weeks is a common form of resistance based in fear.

You Have a Choice

No matter what your current priorities are, when you’re not happy with the way things are going, it makes sense to pause and dive in to some deep reflection to identify what’s really going on.

It’s likely that you’ll discover fear somewhere in the mix.

Then you have a choice – to…

  • remain paralysed by the fear of “what if…?” OR
  • set yourself free by looking it straight in the face, letting go and finding the support you need to explore new possibilities beyond your current zone of familiarity.

What will you choose?


  • What if being dsylexic I can’t grasp the writing process and my ideas stay just that?
    What if I didn’t commit to flowing through on the process?
    What if I never earn any money as a speaker and writer?

    • What if being dyslexic you seek out the specialist guidance and support you need to do your writing? (I’ve worked with many dyslexic writers and there are many successfuly published dyslexic authors.)

      What if you did commit to flowing through on the process (and sought out the guidance and support you need to do so)?

      What if you gained experiece as a speaker and writer alongside other income generating activities in the first instance?

    • You’re most welcome Gail. Thank you for your comment; I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed this post and am grateful that you took the time to share your reaction to it – always inspiring and encouraging for me to read 🙂

    • Absolutely Louise; it makes all the difference in the world! Thanks for your comment and for sharing your reaction.

    • That’s good to hear Melissa, and well done for making a start with your writing after talking about it for years. Some people never cross that threshold… then look back years later and wonder “what if…?” Enjoy the journey!

  • Loved this article and I have found the same truth. The fear is in the unknown…”.what if” are words of fear. If I take those out, there is possibility. I am in process of putting my musings in book form for family and friends. I have talked about it for several years and this year I started the process. Taking that final step of sending it off is a big one. Thanks for sharing.

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