It's February, and many of us have long discarded the hopeful optimism of those goals we scribbled down on December 31st. The ink is barely dry and yet our excuses already far outweigh our desire to "finally make a change." What is behind this? Well, to be honest, many things. The way we set and work toward goals is one of them. In this post, we're going to focus on another one - fear. Fear will stop you, if you let it, from doing the things in life you love and want to do. Fear will stop you, if you let it, from achieving those goals. Let's look at how this happens and at three things you can start doing today to stop fear in its tracks.
I know some of you are saying, "not all fear is bad" and that is true. We are talking about illogical fear, or fear that comes from your mind but is not really protecting you from danger. For most of us, this fear can range from slight hesitations to debilitating anxieties. It looms so present yet feels normal. That's because fear is both very present and very normal. As an author, spiritual guide, and speaker I have been researching fear, in all its forms, for years. I have discovered each of us has the remarkable ability to make the life-changing choice to remove irrational fear from our lives. Eliminating fear is simple - but not necessarily easy - to do. Are you ready for a quick journey? I promise it will be well worth it. Take my hand and I will walk you through three steps to dispel illogical fear and create a new, healthier, happier life. All feelings have value and purpose, and illogical fear is a feeling, like sadness, or embarrassment. Exploring our relationship to fear gives us insight into kickstarting the process of overcoming it.
Fear can be extremely powerful, but we give fear its power. It can stop us from achieving our goals and living our best lives. Here are three importance things to know about illogical fear and how to overcome it.
Fear both feeds stagnation and feeds on stagnation - Have you ever stood at the edge of a tall diving board, looking down at all the dots of people, scurrying around like tiny ants, and thinking, "This is just way too high. Why did I come up here? This is way higher than it looked from the ground." While you're having this inner-dialogue, the fear is mounting. The longer you stand at the edge of the board, peering down, the less likely you are to jump. Your fear is both feeding into your stagnation and feeding on your stagnation. This key concept is a double-edged sword. The longer we wait to do something, the harder it becomes for us to just do it. Taking immediate action is the key to keeping illogical fear from stopping you and keeping you stopped. Create a habit (we will talk about this in another post) of taking immediate action. What is one thing you can take immediate action on today that you've been afraid of doing? Write it down and do it NOW! (Seriously, stop reading this for a few minutes and just do it, you can come back to this post later).
Fear feeds on procrastination - You've decided to record your first podcast. Congrats! You've spent months reading all about the right equipment and setting up the perfect space and today is THE day. You're walking into that special space you set up, when the phone rings - it's your sister. Do you answer it? Well, she has been upset about moving away and it really shouldn't take very long, so you answer the call. While you're talking, you notice a pile of laundry that needs to be done. While loading the laundry, you notice you're running low on laundry soap, and need to add it to the shopping list. While adding it to the list, you decide to look in the fridge and see if you're low on anything else. This continues for a while. Before you realize it, two hours have passed and you still haven't recorded your first podcast episode. You only planned two-and-a-half hours, so you decide to scrap it for today. Tomorrow will be better anyway. Does this sound familiar? Procrastination feeds into our underlying fears of doing things outside our comfort zone. They are a way to distract us from taking action on the goals that we want to achieve - because it usually means doing something new, and we inherently don't like or trust new things (eww...new is scary gross). The fix for this is to make a detailed plan on what you are going to do and then follow that plan every day. I will post tips on how to make this easier in another post but, for now, keep the plan as simple and straight-forward as possible.
Fear feeds on excuses - "I'm not experienced enough to apply for the position." "They probably wouldn't notice if I wasn't at the party." "I'm too old to take up a new hobby." "I'm too young to be successful." "There are just way too many podcasts for anyone to ever listen to mine." Do any of these sound familiar? Excuses are our way to verbally try to make ourselves feel better for not going after what we want. In other words, they are what we tell ourselves to be okay with being afraid of trying something new or uncomfortable. The problem is, you know it's a load of phooey. You can't fool yourself. It would be better to just admit the fear. In fact, that is how you overcome this - admit what it is you're afraid of. Speaking a fear out loud helps take away its power. The next time you find yourself carried away in a tornado of excuse-making, stop, think about what you're saying and why you are saying it. Just be honest. "I don't want to go to the party because I'm afraid of being in large crowds of people" carries so much more insight into who you are than, "No one will notice if I'm not there anyway." Another way to eliminate the excuse portion of fear is to get another person involved. Instead of making the excuse that it's too cold to run (you fear being uncomfortable), invite someone to run with you, or sign up for a race (paying for something is a great way to get yourself committed to a goal).
The topic of fear is expansive and we will keep diving into it. For now, I invite you to practice those three steps and notice the changes that begin to take place inside you. You can stop living in the self-made prison of your fears. A life lived without fear is something you deserve, and something that is completely possible. We don’t want to simply tolerate our fears—we want to eliminate them.