If you’re anything like me dreams are a touchy subject. For years I didn’t allow myself the space to dream. Truthfully, I was afraid that if I breathed life into my dreams I would end up disappointed. It was easier to not allow myself to dream, and to dream big, than it was to be met with rejection or disappointment.
Fear ruled my life.
The truth is it’s a lot easier to stay in a space of fear than it is to allow ourselves the space to dream big, to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, and to embrace change and uncertainty. It’s a lot easier to doubt ourselves and let negative self-talk take over.
It’s a lot harder to get out of our own way.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that moving past our fears and allowing ourselves the space to dream is the greatest form of self-care there is. Here are the five steps I’ve taken to put fear in the backseat (it’s still in the car, but I’ve got it under control) and allow myself the space to dream.
What you’ll need: a piece of paper, pen, a quiet space, and a little courage.
1. Acknowledge and Accept Your Fears
The first step in allowing ourselves the space to dream is to acknowledge what’s holding us back. Fears, doubts, negative self-talk – you name it, all have the power to hold us back.
It’s okay to have that fear, in fact, it’s totally normal. It’s about embracing that fear and bringing it along for the ride with you and not letting it be in control. Fear will always be there, and sure it can be in the car but it belongs in the backseat – and definitely not behind the wheel.
This is where acceptance comes in. Once we accept that fear is going to be part of our lives and there will be moments when we’re afraid, everything changes for the better. When we accept our fears, we’re not allowing them to have control over us. When we face our fears, we show ourselves that we have the power to overcome them.
Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it.
On the left side write “Fear” and on the right side write “Dreams.” I know this sounds totally elementary, but trust me on this one. Write down every single fear that you have. It doesn’t matter how big or small, if it’s something that’s holding you back, write it down.
The first time I sat down to write this list nothing came to mind. Seriously! The idea of writing down what was holding me back freaked me out and my mind went blank. If you’re feeling that way too, it’s okay. Breathe through it and be patient with yourself. Take a break if you need to and come back to this list a little later.
This practice has been incredibly important for me because I’ve learned that we have to recognize our fears and our doubts, and then kick them to the curb. It’s all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
2. Give Yourself Permission
We all have the ability to go after what it is that we want and we have to be willing to give ourselves permission to do so. To give ourselves permission means we have to be willing to step outside of what we believe is possible.
If you’re anything like me you’ve unintentionally put a limit on how big you’re willing to allow yourself to dream and how beautiful you believe your life can be. Well, it’s time to knock it off! It’s time that we acknowledge our self-worth, embrace ourselves and our dreams, and give ourselves permission to be everything that we want to be. It’s time to stretch what you believe is possible for you.
Turn your piece of paper over and write the following question:
What’s one small step that I can take today to give myself permission to chase my dreams?
Even if you feel silly writing down one small step, do it anyway. In this moment give yourself the permission to explore and expand.
My mantra: I give myself permission to dream bigger, live louder, and be all that I came here to be.
3. Let Your Imagination Run Wild
It’s time to make the list. Yup, the one that showcases all of your dreams, goals, and aspirations. On the right side of your piece of paper under the heading “Dreams” write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Here are a couple of questions to get the juices flowing.
What ideas, people, and places inspire me?
When was I like as a kid, what did I enjoy doing?
What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
Whatever comes to mind, whatever is flowing out of your pen, is right on time. I know it’s hard but don’t judge or doubt what you’re feeling and what you’re writing.
Now that you have your list close your eyes. Visualize and imagine everything coming to life. There are no limits to what’s possible. Let that sink in.
As you’re visualizing your dreams ask yourself, “how does it feel? How do I want to feel?”
Remember that feeling, write it down, and hold on to it. It’s what you’re going to come back to time and time again when fear and doubt creep back in, because it will. When it does, remember we always have the power to put it in the backseat again.
The dreams that you write down today, tomorrow, or next year are going to change. Nothing is set in stone. That’s okay! Part of the journey is allowing ourselves to be open and flexible to what unfolds.
4. Surround Yourself with People Who Support Your Dreams
When it comes to stepping outside of your comfort zone and going after your dreams, surrounding yourself with people who understand you and support you is a game changer. These people know your heart and are just as excited about your dreams and goals as you are. Plus, they can help you get out of your own way! Whether it’s friends, family, a mentor, a coach, or people you connect with online, you have the power to choose your support system and community.
It’s important to remember that oftentimes our support system doesn’t look like what we expected it to. There’s always going to be one friend or family member who doesn’t get it and who may not know how to be supportive. It hurts, but I’ve learned that it’s part of the journey. The truth is they don’t have to get it! It’s up to you to set your boundaries and decide if that’s someone you want to share your dreams with. Sometimes people who haven’t given themselves permission to dream aren’t going to know how to be supportive of your dreams.
Always remember that you’re the most important member of your support system. We have to be our biggest cheerleader, hype man, and supporter. No one is going to believe in your dream the way that you do!
5. Remind Yourself That Your Dreams Matter
There’s this quote that I love (and I have no idea who said it) but it goes a little something like this, “You will never be given a dream without being given the power to make it come true.”
We already have everything that we need to make our dreams a reality. The key is to allow ourselves the space to get quiet, dream, and go within. This practice is different for everyone, but creating a morning routine that includes meditation and journaling has helped me do this.
You matter and so do your dreams. Be patient with yourself. Remember that as you’re working towards your goals and dreams, you’re shaping and molding yourself into becoming the person that you are meant to be, and supposed to be, at the moment that those dreams actualize.
When fear and doubt creep back in, I encourage you to go back to the list you made earlier. Write love letters to your dreams. Spend time painting the picture of who you want to be, and what you want your life to look like. Remind yourself what you’re chasing, why you’re chasing it, and how you want to feel once your dreams come true.
You are limitless and so are your dreams.
Sydney Weiss is a lawyer, entrepreneur, host and executive producer of Seek The Joy Podcast, your go-to podcast for heartfelt storytelling and conversations on all things self-love, joy, connection, wellness and spirituality. Inspired by Sydney’s ongoing journey toward growth, empowerment, and self-love, every episode offers a fresh perspective, “aha” moments, laughs, and stories and wisdom that will stick with you throughout the week.