Commitment: Can you share with our readers your journey to finding true love? What fears did you have to overcome in order to welcome intimacy into your life?
Diane Conway: Well, I joke that I dated every dysfunctional man in America by the time I was 35. My journey with finding love followed the same path as realizing my dreams, lots of inner work, therapy, and friends believing for me. I finally met Brian when I was 36 and discovered he was 12 years younger than me.
I realized that during all those years of praying for a mate, my Higher Power was looking down and saying, “Be patient Diane, he’s growing up as fast as he can he’s only in the 6th grade.” We’ve been married for 25 years now.
Commitment: What would you say to a woman who may feel locked in a life she hates, even frozen perhaps, who dreams of creating a new life for herself?
Diane: It all starts with a first step in the direction of your dreams, just getting sick and tired of being the way you are can spur you on to change. Change little things. You can’t steal second with your foot on first. Get the help of a therapist or coach.
Commitment: In this book, you wrote about how many of us are waiting for permission to be who we want to be and live the life we want to live. Why do we get into this waiting game, and how can we finally give ourselves permission to live the life we want to live?
Diane: Write a permission slip for yourself: “I am willing to take my life and my time seriously, I refuse to live small I’m give myself permission to live out loud.” And list all the things you’re giving permission for…to have fulfilling work, to travel, to have fun and quit worrying and perhaps to fall in love.
Commitment: Do you think fear is a big part of the reason many of us are living lives that don't match our deepest wishes and dreams? If so, why?
Diane: Fear is THE reason we don’t live fully authentic and abundant lives. Fear is the root cause of every negative emotion. Mark Twain wisely said, “The worst things that ever happened to me never happened.” Once when I was fearful of making a mistake with a life decision, my buddy said, “Diane, you can’t shovel the snow until it actually snows. And when it does I’ll bring over a shovel, but let me remind you we live in the desert.”
Commitment: Can you share with us your own journey through fear, and how overcoming some of your own fears changed your life.
Diane: I was a scrawny, scared little girl and an overweight shy teenager, always afraid of what others thought, afraid everyone was given the secret of life and they forgot to give me mine. I suffered from Dyslexia and ADD so they put me in the ‘stupid row’. School was a nightmare for me.
The message was, ‘you’re worthless, you can’t learn no matter how hard you try’. It wasn’t until I got sober in my 20’s that I found supportive people who told me I was lovable and that I had a chance. I began to trust others who told me I had talent especially some actors and writers. It was like Duh! - I was the last to know. That scared little kid would have never in a million years thought that she’d be an author of three published books.
Commitment: What are some of the fears that prevent us from living authentic lives and being true to our dreams?
Diane: The top three are:
1) Fear of being unworthy
2) Fear of rejection (i.e. fear of what others think)
3) Fear of being unlovable
Commitment: You wrote that at the deepest level, many of us harbor the fear of being our unique selves and letting the world see who we really are. How can we let go of this type of fear? Why do we end up afraid to show our true self to the world around us?
Diane: One thing we all do is comparing our insides (feelings of vulnerability) with another's outsides. We surmise that they are strong, capable; lovable when in actuality they have the same soft vulnerabilities as we do. We make the mistake of wanting to please others instead of pleasing ourselves.
Make a declaration of independence from this kind of thinking and choose to BE your glorious, funny, quirky, unique, wonderful self. On your deathbed you can say, “Hot Damn, I had fun!”
Commitment: What are five steps a person can take who is ready to pursue a dream and let go of the fear that is stopping them? What are some "fear fighting systems" you've seen work?
1. Declare your dream out loud to a supportive person.
2. Ask people to help you, don’t go it alone, get a coach, call me!
3. Ask yourself, “How would I act, think and BE today if I knew everything was going to work out?”
4. Create an Action Plan.
5. Identify something that you are passionate about and DO IT, passion defeats fear.
Commitment: You shared that as a child, you felt you were "stupid" because of severe learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder and dyslexia. So how did you get past all those negative messages and feelings of shame and end up writing a book, conducting workshops and being a stand-up comedian?
Diane: In a way, my fear and insecurity were a gift, because I got sick and tired of being sick and tired and made a decision to change. The best way to overcome something is to help another overcome so I created workshops, coached people and wrote the book. We teach best what we need to learn. I tell people it is never too late to live your dreams, never to late to decide to love yourself.
Commitment: The title of your book is, What Would You Do If You Had No Fear? Why did you choose this title and how has this question changed your life?
Diane: The title comes from an exercise I do in my workshops and retreats, we form a circle and each person answers the question, “What would you do if you had no fear?”
My life was changed seeing the power of transformation when men and women declared their dreams. Over and over participants would contact me with amazing news, “I’m registered for Medical school.” “I’m dating and taking a chance on love again.”
Commitment: What often happens to the participants in your workshops and retreats when you ask this question?
Diane: Answering the question usually produces an ‘Ah Ha!’ moment, it’s as if the person connects with what is really important in life, almost as if they have been waiting a life time for someone to ask them this key question. One man told me, “I’ve never had anyone ask me anything remotely like this. You just gave me permission to believe in my desires and to dream.” Well, then and there I felt my job was done!
Commitment: You wrote that you almost abandoned this wonderful book to a bottom drawer because of a number of rejections from publishers. How did you end up having your book published and what gave you the courage to not give up on this book even though you had been rejected?
Diane: I sent the book proposal out to several agents and publishers - to be truthful I let my fear of rejection stop me. But because I have faith that a Higher Power is looking out for me, I kept doing affirmations, “The perfect publisher for me is coming.”
About 3 years after the proposal was done a mentor, friend, my creative angel, Karen Warner asked me to give it to her, she knew of a man who worked for a new publishing company. He loved it and the publisher offered me a contract the next week. It’s quick when it’s meant to be! Divine timing was afoot because the publishing company had not been in business when I first sent it out.
To anyone out there who is discouraged and feels rejected, I say don’t quit before your miracle. Visualize, affirm and if you’re spiritually inclined pray.
Commitment: What questions should we ask ourselves as to try to figure out our deepest dreams and wishes?
Diane: I believe that our deepest desires, the whisperings, the nudging is the Universe trying to get our attention to do what we were put here for. We tend to dismiss the intuitive voice.
Once again our feelings of unworthiness tell us we can’t have what would make our hearts sing.
Commitment: Can you share with us some of the stories of people in your book that dared to get past their fears and live their dreams?
Diane: One of my favorite stores is Jan 's she went out of her comfort zone and when to Europe alone for her 40th birthday. She met an Englishman in Paris, they fell in love and she moved to Paris and got married. She’d been ‘waiting’ for Mr. Right to take her to Europe but she had to go there to find him. The only real risk is not risking.
Commitment: What advice do you have for those who have gone through abuse or trauma who may see their fear as a protection that keeps them safe and alive. In your own life, you went through a break-in where you were raped. How did you get past such a difficult ordeal?
Diane: I got professional help and we started a group for women, who had also been attacked, one woman helping another works! I used my anger and took self-defense training.
Commitment: Sometimes a person fears trying something new or traveling to a faraway place because they are afraid that danger may be lurking somewhere. What do you have to say to those who may feel their fear protects them from dangerous situations?
Diane: Don’t take foolish risks. Living fully is not about being a daredevil; it’s about taking risks that lead to your dreams and your fulfillment. Police officers told me they have healthy fears that save their lives.
Commitment: In your workshops, what have you discovered are some of the biggest secret wishes people would pursue if they had no fear?
Diane: A woman told me, “If I had no fear, I’d be more me. I’d make more noise. A version of that beautiful, brave thought comes up over and over. People express all kinds of dreams: one woman when to audition for American Idol, another set up a studio and started painting, another moved to Hawaii. People not only say their dreams but get support to act on them. ACTION is the magic word.
Commitment: How does a person go about making a treasure map to uncover what they would like to see happen in their life?
Diane: Collect old magazines and catalogs, a poster board, scissors and a glue stick. Go through the magazines and cut out pictures that speak to you. Do it intuitively, let your heart tell you what you're craving. Don’t be afraid to make a big mess because you are going to organize and put your future life together on the poster, that’s a Treasure Map. One woman in my workshop lived in a busy city but her ‘intuitive’ selections were trees, vineyards and a fountain. Several years later circumstances brought her to a gorgeous home in the wine country, it looked like her Treasure Map. They are powerful!
Commitment: What advice do you have for those who have tried for their dreams many times, but have been disappointed and are now afraid to try because they fear making a mistake?
Diane: Go ahead and be willing to make a mistake, if you are like me you’ve made mistakes already and Hey, you're still breathing. This is the best advice I ever got when I was dating and it works for many other things. If it is right for you nothing you can do can mess it up and if it’s wrong nothing you can do can fix it. So relax and have fun.
Commitment: Finally, can you share with our readers the story of Holocaust survivor Eleanor and how her courage ultimately impacted your own life.
Diane: The Nazis took Eleanor captive when she was 19 and sent to a concentration camp. When the Allies were coming to liberate they guards took the prisoners on a ‘death march’, Eleanor like the rest were malnourished and wore rags so it was expected they would die on the march.
Eleanor saw a couple of women escape and thought to herself, I'm terrified they’ll shot me if I escape but if I say on this march I’ll surely die. She took one moment of courage and rolled into a ditch when they weren’t looking which saved her life. Courage and fearlessness happen in the MOMENT. Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
Diane Conway is a self-described “do-over” queen and survivor, riddled with fears, who lives her dreams anyway. An author, creative coach and stand-up comic, Diane’s witty and inspiring programs are a favorite with audiences everywhere. Her one-woman show had ‘em rolling in the aisles in comedy clubs and theaters from Nashville to Vegas.
Diane is the author of the bestselling books, What Would You Do If You Had No Fear? Living Your Dreams While Quakin’ in Your Boots, and What Would You Do for LOVE If You Had No Fear? Loving Without Losing Your Mind. Diane lives with her three dogs and her husband on a houseboat in Sausalito, California, she says, “It’s crowded!” Visit Diane's website at www.dianeconway.com.
To purchase What Would You Do if You Had No Fear, click here.
To purchase What Would You Do For Love if You Had No Fear, click here.