Have you ever let fear hold you back?
Fear of being judged.
Of being inadequate.
Fear manifests itself in many different ways.
It’s there when you worry about the future, when you think you’re “not good enough” and when you convince yourself you’ll fail.
It can’t really be controlled – you will probably always experience it.
But, what you do with fear is up to you.
But if you decide to change your relationship with fear, it can actually teach you some powerful life lessons and guide you towards rare opportunities.
Don’t let fear hold you back. Allow it to fuel your journey to extraordinary success.
Here are four steps to turn your fear into fuel:
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1. Recognize False Alarm Fear
You are a miracle. The odds of you even existing has been estimated at one in 400 trillion or more.
A popular Buddhist analogy does a great job of describing how amazingly improbable chances are of you being alive:
“Imagine there is one turtle swimming underwater somewhere in one of the world’s oceans. And imagine that one life preserver was thrown somewhere in one of the world’s oceans. The probability that you exist is equivalent to that turtle coming out of the water for air and sticking its head through the middle of that life preserver.”
It’s basically impossible. And yet, here you are! There never has been, nor will there ever be, another “you”.
It’s no wonder fear fights so hard to keep you alive!
And it’s done a pretty good job so far. Your ancestors didn’t get mauled by wild animals and you’ve survived every life or death situation you have ever faced.
But, fear is just an emotion. It’s fallible. It can "overreact" and send out false alarms.
It doesn’t know the difference between you having to make a presentation at work and you being in an actual life or death situation. All it knows is that you perceive yourself to be in danger and its job is to keep you safe.
So, it triggers your “fight-or-flight” response.
You breathe faster in order to take in more oxygen in case you have to run. Your heart beats faster so it can distribute that oxygen to your muscles in case you have to fight off an attacker. You sweat so your elevated heart rate doesn’t cause you to overheat.
All so you can have the best chance of surviving the “threat to your survival”.
Sometimes fear is just a false alarm triggered by your own limiting beliefs. You have the power to create your own success mindset.
2. Defeat Your Limiting Beliefs
When fear manifests in the form of negativity and self-doubt, you may think things like,
These are all examples of limiting beliefs that stifle your true potential and keep you from living your best life.
Practicing mindfulness strategies has been extremely helpful for me in overcoming my limiting beliefs and I think it can work for anyone. Being mindful allows you to separate yourself from your thoughts and feelings.
In doing so, you realize something profound – Your thoughts are not always a reflection of the truth.
Thoughts are not facts.
One mindfulness technique I find incredibly helpful is to notice your thoughts and feelings and label them accordingly.
If you think, “I’m not good enough”, label that as a thought. Think to yourself, “I just had the thought that I’m not good enough.”
If you’re having anxiety, label that as a feeling. Think to yourself, “I just had the feeling of anxiety”.
Once you are able to observe your thoughts and feelings from the perspective of an objective bystander, you can challenge your limiting beliefs and move past your fear.
Mindfulness is also extremely helpful for overcoming fear that manifests as anxiety.
Here’s why: anxiety and fear are both future-based emotions - you’re worried about what might happen in the future.
Focusing your attention on the present helps keep you grounded (which is especially helpful if your fear causes you to have a panic attack).
Being mindful leaves no space for catastrophizing about the future or ruminating about the past. You are simply experiencing the present.
When you are “in the present”, you are more open to opportunity and serendipitous occurrences. You are able to think more clearly and truly benefit from what fear has to offer.
3. Give Your Fear Direction
Fear is wild, and it needs to be given direction.
It’s up to you to decide what role fear is going to play in your life.
If you let it, fear can be a dictator. It can exert absolute, unrestricted control over you. And it can really sell you short by demanding that you give up whenever something feels uncomfortable.
Discomfort is often a gateway to success.
Taking only the safe bets in life leaves a lot of your potential on the table.
Discomfort is a gateway to success.
If you want something you’ve never had, you must do things you’ve never done – things you’ve never done because you were too afraid.
If push past your own previously-defined limits (and past all the people who weren’t willing to be uncomfortable!), you will accomplish things you never thought possible.
In his book, The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Health, Robert Allen wrote, “Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.”
Let fear be the guide that helps you get there.
4. Harness the Power of Fear
It’s time to take action.
Now that you are armed with these strategies, you can start harnessing the power of your fear.
It’s not that you won’t feel fear. You will just have the courage to “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
Start small. Build up a resume. Each time you overcome your fear, you provide yourself with evidence that you can do it.
This builds confidence.
It causes a snowball effect and you will naturally be able to accomplish more and more. You’ll eventually be amazed at how far you’ve come from just taking one small step.
If your fears start to overwhelm you, I have two suggestions.
Remember Your Why & Avoid Regrets
First, remember your “why”. Why are you are on this earth, why you are in your current job, why you set the goals you did for yourself.
“He who has a why can endure any how.” –Friedrich Nietzsche
Second, think of the agonizing alternative – regret. Nobody wants to look back on their life and wonder, “what if”.
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been.” –Kurt Vonnegut
You can probably remember a time when you were afraid to take a chance, but you did it anyway and it turned out better than you imagined.
And even if it didn’t turn out great, at least you knew what the outcome was.
If you hadn’t done it, you would be left wondering what the outcome might have been.
Who knows what effects your bold and courageous action might have on your life, the lives of those around you and the world at large.
If fear is holding you back from something you want in life, take action now. It’s never too late. Shift your focus from past regrets to present opportunities.
You have all the tools you need to turn your fear into fuel. Recognize and reject the false alarms. Discover and eliminate your limiting beliefs. Be brave and resilient.
Fear should keep you alive, not stop you from living.
Over to you – what fear has been holding you back? Let me know in the comments below!
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