My mom grew up in the Great Depression. It shaped her life because of the way her mother went crazy over the stress, abusing her children at the same time they dropped into poverty after a pretty good upper-middle-class run.

She never recovered from the fear, but at the same it became a strength. She put herself through college, living off one meal a day at the restaurant where she worked as a waitress, plus peanut butter and crackers. Her ability to save, schnor and work every angle were often the butt of family jokes.

But the real joke was on everyone else, as she was able to raise me as a divorced mom, put me through college, and help me out when I got married. And she amassed a modest (by today’s standards) nest egg over the decades that she left me after her passing in 2009. It became the down payment for the dream house my wife and I were able to buy during the last real estate crash.

I learned the Depression mentality from her, and fear is an ever present voice in the background. There’s an old saying, “it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you.” Since the 1970s, the game has been rigged in favor of the rich, and puts the working class in constant risk, so your fear is partially justified.

Without a support system of friends and family, you can’t take on the risk of leaving a solid job to follow your muse. All those privileged life hackers are totally full of shit when they preach “follow your bliss.” Some people have to work for a living. I’m not saying to give up your dreams, or stop working at your craft. Just don’t beat yourself up about being part of the minority of people who are still financially solvent in this country.

Having said that, the next big step and the hardest task is to learn to recognize the difference between the kind of fear generated by what Tim Gallwey called Self 1 and Self 2 in his ground breaking work in sports psychology, “The Inner Game.”

Self 1 is the ego, logical, verbal and emotional part of the brain. It creates imaginary fears of things that pose no actual threat: what other people think, how you might look doing something, questioning your abilities, etc.

Self 2 is the wisdom of our body and spirit, as manifested by our vision, spacial relations, intuition, muscle memory, and the ability to react to real danger. One can’t become an elite athlete or artist without maintaining constant focus and connection with Self 2, while shutting out Self 1. And if there is an actual threat, the fear creates a surge of adrenaline that is part of a normal fight or flight reaction.

I hope you can find a way to hit the mute button when your sponsor takes over the narrative.

Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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