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‘I can’t’, ‘I mustn’t’, ‘I shouldn’t’, ‘I couldn’t’, how often have uttered these words after a sparkly, creative, innovative, bold, thought? Too often, I reckon, with the end result of that sparkly moment slowly fading into shadows of fear, overcast by self-doubt; surrounded by words of consolation to further enhance the feeling of self-pity and worthlessness: “what a shame….”.
For a very long time I’ve asked the question why people, in general, are not reaching their full potential personally or professionally, not living ‘their dream’ or pursuing their passions or simply be who they feel that they want to be, their true self, raw, unfiltered, truthful. In many conversations it always concludes with one reference ‘fear’; fear of not having enough money, fear of not having security, fear of not being able to provide, fear of not being able to pay the mortgage, fear of not fitting in, not being accepted, fear of not being successful, fear of not succeeding, fear of failure, fear…fear…fear…the list can go on, endlessly.
On a micro level that seems quite horrifying to live in constant turmoil: one minute totally stoked and pumped to move forward followed by an immense feeling of self-doubt up to a point where the adrenaline rush calms and the emotions fade far back in to ‘dream world’. So what would happen if all of the sudden you would stop being afraid and just ‘go’?
Few things for you to consider first:
- Fear is merely a conditioning of the mind, a state of mind that is instilled throughout of development process from childhood to adulthood; some therapists even suggest that it is instilled even before birth. But let’s observe what we experience, fear as a state of mind that is formed by our own experience of situations, conversations, interaction with people, relationships and what not. For example, you fell down from a bike and got hurt really bad, now you’re refusing to ride a bike. Let’s say you got your heart broken now you’re afraid to trust people, or perhaps your parents keep reminding you that you weren’t the smartest kid they had. It’s often small experiences that we encounter in our development process that contribute to some of the largest fears in life.
- Fear a conditioning of the mind manifests in different kind of emotions. You might recognize some anxiety when you need to close a big deal, travel to a new destination or wanting to quit a crappy job. You might experience anger or nervousness when seeing your ex-partner, or stand in front of a crowd or take a Facebook photo with your least favorite friends.
- Fear, in whatever form it manifests, in whatever emotion it turns into, it puts a massive blockage on what you want to do; whenever you doubt pursuing something you feel really strong and passionate about, it is surely being generated from a place of fear. If you allow that fear to control your choices, finding happiness from within might be a long, tiring and exhausting journey.
So when you can recognize your fears as a conditioning of the mind, the next step is to become aware how that affects you. ‘How is being scared, afraid, anxious affect my choices?’. Quick reflection is probably going to get you the same answer as many: not fully content, not fully happy, not fully satisfied; is that about right?!
‘I wish I had….’, so, why haven’t you? Answer this truthfully. Read your reasons, or excuses even, back and become aware of the things, thoughts, emotions, holding you back. It is only then that you can elevate your thoughts, get into that survival instinct, the human species is originated with, and move your mindset to take action.
Is not as simple as it looks, of course not! Probably it took many years for ‘fear’ to develop and control our minds and emotions, and in our unconscious state of mind, of course, we have built a life, took a job, did a study, stay in a relationship, took out a mortgage, and what not, instigated by emotions controlled by fear, manifesting in so many different forms. So we become tied to obligation at some point, hence it will not be as easy to just cut loose and make changes. But it is a start; it is the first step to awareness.
Put it all together and try something new
- Accept that your past fears are part of you; they’ve eventually led to taking decisions which now are the basis, the framework, of what you do, how you carry yourself and where you stand in life. Don’t fight it, embrace it. Accept that it is part of you, besides, we can’t change the past, and we can’t go back and change the experiences and/or feelings bestowed upon us from those experiences. But ask yourself this: ‘is it worth holding on and holding yourself back because of it? Your answer is probably a big fat NO.
- Once you’ve established that mindset you reflect back on all the reasons or excuses you’ve denied yourself the pleasure of experiencing or pursuing something you’ve wanted to do all along. Tick off the reasons you require no further time and energy on your part. Maybe you’ve wanted to buy yourself a new car if you have the money and you have no further allocations planned for it, but the car! If your kids are out of college and you’ve wanted to take that cruise, go for it! If you’ve been in a bad marriage that made you miserable, get out of it!
- Yes, it is that simple, because, once you are in the mindset that fears no longer control your emotions and your decisions, your ‘survival instinct’ kicks in and you know what needs to be done to free yourself from fear and take actions toward being content, at peace, feeling satisfied. You’ll almost automatically take step-by-step actions to ‘survive’ or better yet make changes as required to bridge the gap between a life controlled by fear-colored emotions and a life of happiness.
- Start with baby steps, put it to the test. Start with the smallest fears; overcome the smallest fears and gradually move on to the bigger ones and more challenging ones. Yes, even that seems scary! If you afraid of heights, try standing at the edge of springboard at the pool. Hold a friend’s hands and jump in, get on the rollercoaster, climb that mountain, overcome the fear of heights just, just once is enough to find the first strings of strength. One time is all it takes.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help to face your fears. You’ll be surprised how many, no matter the type of fear, of us battle the same emotions. So why not talk about it and share with each other. We might learn a thing or two from each other to overturn one’s stone of fear on its path to happiness.