(📷: Leio McLaren)
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” – Les Brown
Death. Disease. Failure. Loss. Powerlessness. Disappointment. Destruction. Setbacks.
How do you feel when you read those words? Does your body tense up uncomfortably? Does your mind become plagued with “what ifs” and worst case scenarios?
Fear is a powerful force, and it’s something we all carry inside of us. And fear does serve a necessary purpose when it comes to physical and emotional danger. If we didn’t feel fear, we wouldn’t have the same vital reactions that enable us to protect ourselves from LEGITIMATE threats.
Survival is an awesome thing, ya know?
But, when we allow our “fear response” given to us for survival purposes to become our “main response” to our everyday lives and experiences, then we unnecessarily create an internal fear-based dictatorship that leads to paralysis and inaction.
Let me give you an example — let’s say it’s your dream to start your own business and you’ve just come up with a brilliant idea you’d like to share with the world. Excited, you call your best friend and tell her all about your grand idea, but…she doesn’t get it. And she says, “I don’t understand — you already have a good job. Why would you leave the career you’ve been building for the past several years behind?”
The invigoration you were feeling just minutes earlier has quickly been replaced by fear and doubt. Your mind starts spinning, and your fear response takes over:
“This is a dumb idea. No one will ever go for it.”
“This business would never make it, there’s no point to begin. Are you TRYING to fail?”
“There’s no reason to leave your comfort zone. It’s safe where you are. You’re building a career. You’re making money. Don’t ruin it.”
You decide to archive your business idea, after all, why risk failure when you can ensure comfort? And by doing this no you will never know. You’ll never know if this was YOUR golden ticket to personal success. You’ll never know if you could have created something that could have a positive and lasting impact on the world.
You see, that’s the problem when we allow our fears to take over our thoughts and lives. Using fear as a life coach or consultant prevents us from taking inspired action and progressing forward.
But, there are ways to use fear as a catalyst for personal growth — if you’re ready. If you are, here are 4 ways you can go from fearful to (almost) fearless:
1.) Don’t Adopt the Fears of Others
Chances are, you’re surrounded by people who have their own fears, doubts and self-limiting beliefs. And when you say or do something that goes against the grain of what they believe is realistic and achievable, their immediate response is to project their fears onto you.
Now, this doesn’t mean the people in your life are ill-intended or trying to sabotage your efforts, instead typically it means their current mindset doesn’t allow them to see the bigger picture. Why?
Well, because if someone believes THEY can’t do or have something, then it’s a natural reaction for them to ALSO believe YOU can’t do or have that same thing.
So, when you’re in the embryonic phase of creation (whether it’s career, personal or other goals/dreams) keep it sacred and to yourself, or only share it with people you know will be supportive. This will keep you from soaking in the doubts and fears of other people as you go through the delicate process of turning your visions into reality.
2.) Identify & Categorize Your Fears
Make a list of everything you’re afraid of, even if writing the list scares you. Be honest and open with yourself as you do this — spill all of your fears out on paper. Things become less scary when you can see them, ya know?
Once you finish your list, categorize your fears as either necessary or unnecessary. Here’s an example of how you can do this:
My Necessary Fears
Dangerous situations — my fear of dangerous situations, such as texting while driving or touching a hot stove, keeps me safe because it prevents me from engaging in careless activities that could hurt me or other people.
Being unhealthy — my fear of being unhealthy helps me stay motivated to exercise and eat foods that nourish my body rather than harm it.
My Unnecessary Fears
Failure — my fear of failure is unnecessary because it prevents me from taking inspired action and working toward big goals and dreams.
Heartbreak — my fear of having my heartbroken is unnecessary because it prevents me from opening myself up to potentially wonderful relationships, and keeps me from experiencing unconditional love.
Depending on how many fears you have, your list may be long or it may be short. Regardless, keep this list handy because we’re going to use it in our next step.
3.) Have a Q&A with Your Fears
Now, using your list of fears from above, imagine you’re interviewing your fears and do a Q&A with them.
For this exercise, let’s go back to the example of launching a business. So the fear we’re questioning here is failure. Here’s what that conversation might look like:
You: “Hi Failure. Thanks so much for being here with me today. I want to talk to you about something important. I’d like to launch my business, and I know you’re looming around the corner. What’s the worst possible thing that could happen if I decide to move forward?”
Failure: “Well, that’s easy. You fail.”
You: “And…how likely is it that i’ll fail?”
Failure: “Well, that really depends on you. It’s hard to say. It’s circumstantial based on how much you really WANT this business, and WHY you want it.”
You: “This is good stuff. Thanks Failure. And, what would you say is the best thing that could happen?”
Failure: “That’s also easy — you succeed. You get what you want. You make this idea tangible and real.”
You: “Good point. And in your opinion, how likely is it that i’ll succeed?”
Failure: “Again, and I can’t stress this point enough — that depends on you, your vision, your belief, your actions etc. and you should know, if you really want this, and you’re willing to put in the time, energy and effort to bring it into fruition it will be yours.”
Go through this process with every single one of your unnecessary fears. Hear them out, imagine what they might say to you and then thank them for coming and let them go.
4.) Deathbed Visualization
For our final step we’re going to fast forward to our final moment in life. Now, I know this sounds morbid, but bare with me okay?
I want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself lying on your deathbed. It won’t be long now before you take your last breath and transcend back to the spiritual realm. Right now, in the finality of your physical journey you’re thinking back on your life, experiences and learnings.
You feel like you’re not ready to leave, like there are still things you have yet to accomplish and experience. But there isn’t time to change that now. You think about that book you never wrote, that country you never visited and that person you never pursued. You wish you would have lived more fearlessly, and not been paralyzed but the “what ifs,” you wish you would have taken a chance, and really lived.
Now, hold onto that feeling. Breathe that final breath into THIS moment right now and allow it to reinvigorate your life.
You’re still here. You’re still alive. You still have today. Don’t die with your dreams still alive inside of you, go out and live them! It’s not too late to set a new goal, it’s not too late to dream a new dream so what are you waiting for? Your life is waiting for you…
What are your fears? Comment below and let’s chat!