Have you ever thought about that saying, “the only thing to fear is fear itself”? Well, take a moment and ponder! How true do you think it is? I’m thinking it might be the key to every success in life! For real! This probably sounds over simplified but think about it. Is the situation ever as bad as the fear? Once we know what it is, once we’re in it, we have the power and ability to do something about it! The worst part is those moments of not knowing, the dread, the worry, the hyper-vigilant planning. For something that may or may not even happen!
Fear is overwhelming. It’s gut wrenching and most of us will do almost anything to avoid it in real life, though we might enjoy artificially creating it! This duality is fascinating.
We are willing to do almost anything to avoid the fear of others opinions. The fear failure, success or rejection. We even fear the unknown!
Yet we seek out haunted houses, scary movies and roller coasters! The drive and desire for a quick Adrenalin rush is intense for many of us. That feeling of superhuman strength and ability is intoxicating. When we seek it out we feel we are in control. We have chosen it. And because of the nature of this type of fear we quickly adapt, often seeking it again.
Why do we simultaneously avoid and seek fear? How would our lives be different if we jumped into fear in our real lives like we do in entertainment, instead of running from it? And how can we make this happen?
Real Life Fear
With real life fear we feel we have no control and the impact is long lasting and often grating. That low-level anxiety that comes with chronic stress and anxiety is so often the result of fear, plain and simple! The truth is, we often find that this is the most painful part of the process. We worry ourselves sick and are frequently in bondage because of it. It isn’t productive to be in fear, but we certainly can’t seem to avoid it.
So, here’s my theory… barring things that are clearly and logically dangerous, immoral, destructive etc, we should be jumping into our fears instead of hiding away. The ongoing anxiety isn’t doing us any good! In fact, it is keeping us from self-actualizing and living to our fullest potential! And, there is a lot we can do about fear. We can take control of it and ride it into our greatest triumphs! We just need to know how!
Let’s look at 6 common real life fears and how to overcome them!
1. Fear of People’s Opinions
So often we are burdened by our perception of what people may think of us. Fear of what they MIGHT think seems to be so paralyzing! We play small and hold back because we feel we can’t handle the judgement or disapproval of not only our friends and family but also perfect strangers and even ourselves!
The Opinions of Loved Ones
It’s a good thing to care what people we love think of us. We should value their opinions and validation. After all, we are in relationships with them and we want to maintain them. We often fear that if we reveal ourselves we will be left or be ridiculed and humiliated. Logically this doesn’t make any sense!
A little reality check goes a long way here! Are you REALLY surrounding yourself with people who would treat you like this? You might need to think more highly of the people who are closest to you! It is unlikely that they would be intentionally unkind or leave you because of your differences. They might not understand what you’re doing. They may not be supportive but that doesn’t mean they’re going anywhere. And it isn’t the same as ridiculing and humiliating you.
Not everyone will understand your dream or motivation and that’s OK. You can value their opinions without allowing them to derail you. Create boundaries that allow you to accept that just because you care for each other doesn’t mean that you will always be on the same page. That doesn’t threaten the relationship and it is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it’s something to appreciate and be grateful for! Knowing that you can find acceptance for who you are without having to be afraid is the cornerstone of every good relationship. Seek that, not empty approval! (HINT… you won’t find acceptance if you don’t show up as yourself!)
The Opinions of Strangers
The deep and profound fear of what strangers might think is simply baffling when you really think about it. The chances are absurdly low that they are thinking about you at all!
The woman on the plane next to me doesn’t care that I am busily typing my heart out! She just cares if I elbow her in the side. I can pursue my own passion and not have a care in the world about what she thinks! Maybe she thinks blogging is a silly waste of time… oh well… why would that matter to me? Should I be concerned with what she thinks? Why would I live in fear of the judgement of someone I don’t even know? I’d rather put myself out there and take the chance then live small. I can’t allow other people’s hang ups to hold me back! Why would I? Why should you?
The opinions of strangers are irrelevant in our dreams. Plain and simple! The only way to get over this fear is to remind yourself of that fact daily!
Your Greatest Critic
Even people who deeply love me, believe in me and support me may not understand what I’m doing. That’s ok! Not everyone is going to get it! I don’t need to litigate it or convince them that my path is right for me. I don’t need to be afraid of their judgement. And the truth is that typically isn’t really what we’re afraid of to being with.
We often project our own opinions and beliefs onto others. It might not even be about what anyone else thinks. We are our own worst critics! To avoid dealing with that we convince ourselves that negativity is coming from outside ourselves.
Silence your own negative self-talk. The only person who has to be all in on your dream is YOU! So it’s time to focus on that! Get right in your own head and let go of what other’s may think. It’s none of your business anyways. Trust yourself more, love yourself more, you deserve the best you you can muster!
2. Fear of Failure
Failure it NOT the end! It is the beginning! READ THAT AGAIN! Now, I’m not going to get into a whole discussion about Thomas Edison and the 1,000 + times he didn’t fail but instead ruled out another option for the light bulb filament. You’ve heard it before (if not google it). The point is, every failure is a lesson! Every great thing in the world exists because of multiple failures! You shouldn’t be afraid to fail! DREAM OF FAILURE! You Hope for failure! And you should chase it!
A World Without Failure
If you aren’t failing regularly you aren’t learning or growing! You aren’t pushing yourself hard enough! Think about what the world would be like without failure! None of the fine arts would exist, there would be no athletic teams, nothing would be invented etc. Everything worth doing requires failure! This includes careers and business, love and family and every hobby and life enriching event you’ve ever participated in or ever will.
Imagine what your life would be like if you’d never learned to walk or read because of your fear of failure! Like so many others, both of those activities require failure! No one has ever learned to walk without falling. No one has learned to read without struggle. You kept at it! Young you didn’t think “wow, I’m going to look really stupid when I fall” or “It’s not worth it if it’s not perfect the first time”. At what point did we lose our ability to tolerate struggle. When did we stop giving ourselves grace. Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure! Never trying because you’re too afraid does make you a coward. Your voice matters! You are meant to fulfill your purpose so DON’T let fear of failure hold you back!
Set Failure Goals
Take control of this fear by setting failure goals! That’s right! Intentionally set out to fail at least 1 – 3 times per month to start with. Then you’ll know you’re dreaming big enough and when you do manage to fail, you’ll feel incredibly successful at having accomplished your failure goal!
3. Fear of Success
Fear of success might be more debilitating than fear of failure! What if you succeed? How will you manage the increased workload and responsibility? What will come next? Do you even have the first clue what you would do?
You’ll Be Ready For The Rest
Many times, we think of success as a destination. The unknown is what we really fear here. We can’t imagine what life would be like. And we fear arriving at our goal and finding there is nothing else or it wasn’t what we expected. The truth is this is completely possible! Especially when we suffer from destination happiness! You won’t be happier when you get there, you’ll still be you. If you don’t work at it, you’ll have the same outlook you always did.
In reality, when you do relax and allow yourself to succeed, you’ll be ready for whatever comes next (and there will always be something)! You’ll be able to handle it, or you’ll know what to do to develop the skills you need. You’ll have learned well from your failures along the way. They will prepare you for whatever is to come! You just need to take responsibility for your own perspective and journey! It really is up to you who you will become (success and failure are both irrelevant to this).
Plenty of Success to go Around
If you fear success because you believe other’s will be jealous or feel entitled to favors, loans etc, then you need to reevaluate your relationships with others! Again, set healthy boundaries! You can be incredibly successful without having to be responsible for the failures or disappointments of others! There is PLENTY of success to go around! You did NOT take more than your fair share! Being successful should inspire others, not illicit jealousy!
You’re Already Successful!
Control the fear of failure by developing self-confidence. Remind yourself that you will be ready when you get there! Work on enjoying the journey. You are already successful in some way, figure out what it is and remind yourself, you’re surviving it just fine!
4. Fear of Rejection
Do you ever feel like you aren’t good enough or worthy? The fear that our worst thoughts about ourselves may be validated can be paralyzing! This is often why people so deeply fear vulnerability and intimacy! You simply won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. That doesn’t mean that you are no one’s! That doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy or good enough! You deserve every happiness in life, but you can’t have it if you don’t get past your fear of rejection! Rejection is like failure… it’s going to happen! All of the greatest business and salespeople know that you have to be rejected MANY times before you get a yes!
Play the Numbers Game
Make it into a numbers game. Get yourself excited about rejection! If you think of it as a step toward your ultimate goal, as necessary to pave the path, it’s a lot less scary! Remember, rejection is simply part of the journey and doesn’t change your innate value. This perspective can take the sting out entirely! Try setting a rejection goal along with your failure goal! There truly are a certain number of no’s you must get. If you aren’t being told no you aren’t putting yourself out there enough! By the way… this will also help you develop the ability to tell others “no” as well!
5. Fear of the Unknown
Whether it’s a health condition or a future situation the unknown can be nerve racking. Here’s the thing though… you can’t know what will happen in every circumstance, BUT you can know how you will react! You can do the internal work to control your own thoughts and emotions. Then you can make the best choices possible in every situation. Why fear something when you don’t even know what it is? Even the most careful planning doesn’t give us the ability to control everything! It can be very helpful to overcome the fear of the unknown by letting go of hyper-vigilance! Worry accomplishes only one thing; it creates stress and pain. This is bad for your mental and physical health. It doesn’t benefit you in any way.
Do What You Can & Let Go
The best way to control fear of the unknown is to get really clear about what is and isn’t within your control and work on ONLY your own stuff! When you feel fear setting in take a moment to collect yourself. Then evaluate whether there is anything actionable there. If there is something you can do to be better prepared or to improve your possible outcome, do it. If not let it go! And always keep in mind, you can’t control the thoughts or actions of others any more than you can control the weather. Pay close attention to the unknowns you’re focusing on and let go of what isn’t yours!
6. Fear of Making Decisions
Spoiler alert: the wrong decision is not making one at all!
When you have the opportunity to make a choice in life, make it! You are responsible for your own destiny! You need to make the choices necessary to accomplish what you want in life! Not making a choice IS a choice! It’s a choice to relinquish your free will! It’s a choice to not take the reins! You can’t blame everyone else if you choose not to make a choice. You are responsible for the outcome whether you decided or not. My advice is to follow your intuition! Set your mind on your goal by affirming it daily and then meditate or take a quiet moment before making choices. Don’t perseverate on it forever!
Create a Positive Track Record
Find your inner voice and learn to trust yourself. Start by making small choices. Validate yourself for doing it! Everyone of us makes hundreds of choices a day. We don’t even think about what an amazing job we do! Yet somehow, we manage to keep ourselves alive. Keeping track of all of the amazing choices we make creates a positive track record. This will empower you and give you the confidence to make future choices. And keep in mind that even when we make the wrong choice and get off track we are often led back to where we need to be with many great experiences and lessons learned. It isn’t the end of the world!
Jump Into Fear
Here’s the thing… life is short! The ride is amazing the story is gripping! There are some scary moments, even some that spike our Adrenalin and scare the living daylights out of us. But we need to go forward! We have no choice but to be on this ride! So, stop taking yourself so seriously! Stop making everything so complicated and difficult! Enjoy the rush of fear and excitement in the moment but don’t hold it tightly to you. Don’t let it simmer into worry and stress! If you allow it, fear can rob you of your dreams and steal your best life! But YOU have to allow it and YOU can choose not to! Take control of your fear!
Don’t just stand there on the edge of your old life looking into the unknown where your dream life is and allow fear to hold you back! JUMP! You’ll never get what you want out of life if you don’t! And truthfully, there is nothing to fear but fear itself!
Inspire us all in the comments by sharing what you’ve been most afraid of and how you’ve overcome your fears?
Share this with your family and friends and help them overcome their fears and live the life of their dreams!
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