Fear is the fundamental reason why people do not make changes in their lives or pursue their dreams. Fear of change, exposure, the unknown, failure, judgement and losing control paralyse us from taking action, which leads us to live with regret, stagnation, complacency and a deep feeling of helplessness and unhappiness.
Fear is a natural part of our natural human makeup that starts in childhood (Don’t touch that… Don’t talk to strangers) and evolves into adulthood where we become inundated with messages of fear - from society, the media as well as the people around us. These messages of concern, as well as our past experiences, formulate our makeup and understanding of our world which then creates mental roadblocks in our mind and can prevent us from making meaningful changes in our lives.
A few years ago, my fear of choice was Fear of Failure and what I call What if? disease. Each time I thought about changing careers and pursuing my passions, the mental gremlins in my mind would scream out What if you fail? What if you make a mistake? What if? What if? What if?
Eventually, after years of listening to the mental gremlins and experiencing fundamental unhappiness in my career, I burned out and succumbed to depression. But this still wasn’t enough for me to push past my fears – it wasn’t until I started to suffer from panic attacks that I realised that I needed to make changes to my life and work through my fears.
One of the steps I took to rebuild my health and life was to tune into my fears. Sounds counter-intuitive to turn into fear, right? It’s not. By tuning into our worries, we can begin to understand what is driving the fear, which ultimately takes power out of fear.
For example, in my case, I created counter-responses to my fears:
Fear: What if I fail?
Response: So what? Many people “fail”, yet they pick themselves up, pivot, adapt and try another way. The most successful people in the world fail and survive.
Fear: What if I make a mistake?
Response: So what? Everyone makes mistakes. There is no perfect human being. If I make a mistake, I can take it as a learning experience and move on.
Once I tuned into the fear, acknowledged it, and practised getting comfortable with it daily, I was able to take power out of the doubt, and push past it to the point where I ultimately built a new career and life that I love. Notice how I mentioned that I practised getting comfortable with it daily - I say this because it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention this. I am cognizant of the fact that a blog can sound like solutions to challenges are quick and easy, and this isn’t the case. Working through fear does not happen overnight - it takes daily practice.
Don’t allow your fears to stop you from pursuing your dreams – if I can push past fear, you can too.
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