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The "The What If It Doesn't Work Out" Fear

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

How to understand it, release it, and get on with your life

- Click the video to listen to the audio version of this blog post -

When “things don’t work out” the way we wish, we experience immense disappointment, grief and sometimes even despair. Those of us who have been burned all too many times by things not working out, find ourselves paralyzed when we feel a desire to take action on something.

Take for example a man who sees a beautiful woman standing in front of him at the supermarket. He may feel drawn towards her, even interested in striking up a conversation and perhaps asking her out on a date, yet he’s been rejected so often or experienced many relationships that didn’t work out, and so his fear gets in the way of taking action on his desire.

All of this “not working out” may have even fed his belief system with negative thoughts about himself like “I don’t deserve what I want. There must be something wrong with me. I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy of love,” or negative thoughts about women such as, “women suck, women are evil, women don’t know how to love” and so on.

The only way to shield oneself from the pain of disappointment, or from facing these beliefs, is simply to avoid taking action.

Or perhaps you’ve moved beyond the stage of fearing the action, but still live life defensively, always expecting the worst outcome, as though everything good in your life has an expiration date. If you can catch it as it creeps in, maybe this time you won’t get hurt.

For a long time, this is how I experienced any new relationship. I’d meet someone who I thought was great but every day was a waiting game. Today is the day he’s going to tell me it’s over, he’s not into it, he wants something else or someone else. It was exhausting. I was never really able to enjoy what was in front of me. And you know what happened? It didn’t work out. So naturally, this gave me more evidence to support my case that things don’t work out.

Now, I’m going to tell you the problem with this type of reasoning. Those of us who have reached this level of despair in regards to things working out, have a dangerously narrow concept of what it means for things to work out.

Have you ever stopped to consider what constitutes things working out?

The idea of things working out implies that there is some end to be reached, some happily-ever-after. The end! The book is over and nothing ever happens after this. But let me ask you this...when does this end happen in real life? The only actual end to things that I can come up with is death. Actual death. Well, I suppose for anyone who believes in reincarnation, even that is not an end. So to say that things didn't work out we would have to literally be dead or never ever reincarnate ever again. That’s a lot of never-evers.

Ok, I know this explanation isn’t exactly the soothing answer you were hoping for. So let me ask you again, what constitutes things working out? If you were still together with your first romantic partner would that constitute things working out? If you were still at your very first job, would that mean things worked out? If you were still in the body of your 20 year old self, would that mean it all worked out? If you cringed at the thought of staying with your first partner, I know there is at least a small part of you that’s beginning to follow my drift.

Do you see now that there is actually no such thing as things working out when we are all in fact in an ongoing, forward-moving process called life? We cannot freeze time, and therefore, it is inevitable that whatever “didn’t work out” naturally leads to something working out and eventually that thing also does not work out, only to lead to another thing working out.

If you had not broken up with your first romantic partner you would never be in the current relationship you are in. If you had never left or been fired from your first job you would never be in the position you are in now. Every experience you’ve had, good or bad, is just a step in the process of your life unfolding.

However, in order to truly understand why things “not working out” is so painful, we need to take a moment to talk about desire. Desire is the real reason that things appear to work out or not.

There is not a single person on earth free from desire. By the way, if you free yourself from desire, you will also free yourself from the cycle of reincarnation. I was curious so I googled “does reincarnation ever end?”

Anyways, we all have superficial desires as well as deeper ones. Sadly, our superficial and deeper desires do not always get along, and it is often the superficial ones that are the culprit behind our narrow minded understanding of things working out.

For example, your superficial desire might be wanting the relationship to work out with this specific person. You become attached to this one particular outcome, narrowing your definition of what working out means. Naturally, if that is the only outcome you are open to, it will feel like it didn’t work out when the relationship has run its course.

However, before this person came into your life, your desire was not dependent on this particular person fulfilling it. Perhaps it was to find a loving and meaningful relationship. Your deeper desire is buried within this desire. Why do you want a loving and meaningful relationship? Let’s say the answer is so that you can feel unconditional love.

So you’ve asked the universe for unconditional love. What does the universe do? It sends you a bunch of shitty relationships that make you feel unseen, unloved, undervalued, mistreated, or insert whatever has been your personal relationship experience. Where is the unconditional love in all of this?

The thing you have to understand is that the universe did not misunderstand your wish. The universe has sent you relationship after relationship, experience after experience, to teach you what unconditional love really is. It has sent you all of the puzzle pieces that make up your particular journey towards attaining this higher desire of unconditional love, in this lifetime, or however many lifetimes it takes you to get it.

The only thing getting in the way of the full manifestation of your true desire right now, is YOU and all of the resistance you are carrying within yourself. When you want the relationship to work out with only that one person and will not accept any other outcome, you are adding to your resistance and therefore slowing down the manifestation of your true desire. To put it into less spiritual terms, you are essentially learning your truth the hard way.

Until you admit that your superficial and deeper desires are in conflict with each other, you will always experience your life as a series of situations that did not work out. If the relationship has in fact run its course, and you will know this based on how consistently crappy you feel, you will know that your deeper desire is on it’s way. The universe IS trying to pull you towards your true desire, and sometimes that means pulling you away from your superficial one.

If you are looking for evidence that things can “work out,” this is the best evidence you could possibly ask for. This is the universe saying, “stop derailing yourself from what you really want, and learn the damn lesson I’m trying to teach you already!”

The reason this is so difficult for most of us to see, however, is because we are disconnected from our true, deep desires. It’s a lot easier to see the surface ones. Who knows what it is they actually want? Do you? Have you ever stopped to think why you want the relationship? Or why you want the house? Or why you want the job?

Most likely your true desire is buried under loads of shame, or all that negative self-talk I mentioned earlier.

And as if getting through that muck isn’t difficult enough, desires are always evolving. Not just the superficial ones like, today I want my hair cut short, tomorrow I want to grow my hair out. The deeper desires also evolve as you continue on this journey of life.

Ok, I’m going to give you a little bit of relief.

Thankfully, all of these experiences in your life that “did not work out” are helping you clue into what you do want, if you let them. The key is to let them. If you stop focusing on the outcome of the superficial desire, as hard as that may be, you will stop blocking yourself from seeing your higher desire. Can you take a step back for a moment and see that?

I’ll give you an example from my own life and I’ll keep it on the topic of relationships. When I first got into “manifesting” I did what most beginner manifestors do which is to make a list of all the qualities I desired in my ideal partner. Many people told me that I would never find a person who meets all 55 of my “requirements.” But hey, if I’m dreaming, I’m gonna dream big. So 55 items. That’s what it’s gonna take to make me happy in a relationship.

Well, I’ll have you know that not long after I made this list, I started dating a guy who little by little was checking off practically all of the boxes on the list. Wow, I thought! It’s working! It’s finally working out! I did it! I manifested my list. I’m a freaking powerful creator!

But actually there were still 2 items on the list that I couldn’t check off, and one of them, which is closely connected to my deeper desire, was that he also desires a relationship. It turns out that Mr. 53 (as my friend calls him), did not share that desire. Now as I mentioned before, desires evolve, so could he someday want this? Yes absolutely. So because I was so attached to things working out with him, I stuck around to find out.

Well eventually all of the pretending that I was okay with casual, was beginning to gnaw at me. So much so that it became a real effort to battle off the negative self-talk like, “I’m not good enough to be somebody’s special someone.” Or when I was trying really hard to preserve my self-love, “he’s just not ready to receive the love I’m ready to give.” I tried to stay positive and focus on what I could learn or improve about myself from the situation, but eventually doing that felt like trying to keep a smile on my face while being attacked by a shark.

Like most people, I needed to reach a point of near self-destruction to finally get the hint that it’s time to get the hell out.

I zoomed out for a second from this narrow version of things working out and had a little talk with myself about my true desires. This resulted in the understanding that if I allow things to “not work out” for my superficial self, I will in fact allow things to work out for my higher self. For the first time in my life I think I can honestly say I understand the cliche phrase of “getting out of your own way.”

Despite the sadness I felt for the loss my superficial self was going through, an immense sense of relief flooded in, along with a new sense of certainty that what I really want to work out is totally on it’s way. Not only is it on its way, but it has also evolved now that I have more clarity.

The moral of my story is that if you want to release yourself from the fear of “it’s not gonna work out,” you need to get in touch with your deeper desires. Ask yourself why you really want the things you want. Probe deeper than you think you need to by asking yourself “and why do I want this?” Whatever your answer is, ask yourself yet again, “why do I want this?” Continue for at least 5 layers. What need are you really trying to fulfill?

Next make a list of all the possible ways that you can achieve that core desire. Now throw that list away and remain open to whichever way the universe wants to deliver that desire to you. Try to look at everything happening in your life, the good and the bad, as events that are guiding you towards achieving that desire.

All of those shitty relationships that felt nothing like unconditional love, did they not in fact teach you how to love yourself more unconditionally? Did they not teach you how to recognize a loving, meaningful relationship when it shows up? How to change your behaviour, thoughts and beliefs to allow that relationship in?

Can you for a moment appreciate that everything that has appeared to not work out for you has in fact always had your higher desire in mind?

To really see this I’m going to give you another list to make. Write down all of the situations that you thought didn’t work out and next to each item write down all of the things that did work out for your higher desire as a result of that.

In the example I gave of Mr. 53, my higher desire was to manifest a relationship, so that I can experience a profound, loving and deeply intimate connection with another person. The casual nature of the relationship became a barrier towards this. However, it was exactly this experience that led me to deepen my connection with myself and my deeper desires, therefore actually bringing me closer to manifesting them. While my surface perception could be that it did not work out, this particular casual relationship was a crucial component of my own expansion process. This is why I know, the true desire is on it’s way.

This all leads me back to what I started this article with, which is the fear of taking action. The only sure-fire way for things to not work out, both for your superficial and higher desires, is to not take any action at all. So which are you gonna take? Not working out at all or some version of working out even if it was not exactly what you had in mind?

And as for always expecting the worst outcome, start expecting that whatever happens, it is always happening in order for you to get closer towards your deeper desire. The sooner you get out of your own way, the sooner you will see the outcome that you really wish to manifest.

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