What do you want? What is preventing you from pursuing what you want? These are two very potent questions that if asked regularly can mean the difference between a life well-lived or an average life. My hope is that every person reading this article desires more out of life than to just get by. We are responsible for our lives. We are responsible for our happiness. We are responsible for our success and our failure. The news media, government, educational system, and many other social networks would like for us all to believe we are helpless victims. They use the “everyone is a victim” strategy to keep us watching and their advertisers paying. I do not blame them because it works.
Someone told me several years ago that this life was mine to own and this meant I made up the rules. If I was not happy with an aspect of my life, I needed to change the rules and not wait for the rules to change. This concept resonated with me and maybe it will resonate with you. If you don’t like the current direction of your life, you are the only person that can change it! If you are not able to make change consider the following as potential causes of resistance:
Fear of the unknown is one of the most common excuses for not starting. All fear manifests in our heads. We make up stories that justify not getting started. We ask ourselves questions like: What if I fail? What if I succeed and can’t handle it? What will others say about me? You might ask – how do I overcome the fear of the unknown? Jump! Work on becoming comfortable being uncomfortable. One technique I use to help get more comfortable being uncomfortable is turning the shower to cold for a couple of minutes. It is way uncomfortable, but the benefits can be life changing! Start the cold showers – Stop fearing the unknown!
Did you know that the fear of loss is twice as strong as the reward for equivalent gains? It is how our minds work. This programming begins early in our lives and seems to grow stronger as we age. This is especially true if we don’t take measures to stunt its growth. Studies have demonstrated that we feel better about not losing $5 than we do finding $5. The fear of loss is why we choose to play it safe and avoid any potential for loss. Risk aversion and avoidance will stagnate progress in all aspects of our lives.
As silly as this seems, the fear of judgment is another common excuse for not taking chances. Adults are just as susceptible to peer pressure as children, if not more so! Fear of judgment is the lamest excuse in the book. Grow up and take charge of your future. We worry about what everyone will say only to find out they were not paying attention in the first place! Know why they weren’t paying attention? Because they were too busy paying attention to themselves!
This fear is the most sinister of all because without realizing it has happened, we allowed the fears of others to prevent us from moving forward. I call this fear projection. Our parents feared spiders, so we fear spiders. A friend was chased by a cow, so now we fear cows. In both cases, others projected their fear onto us. These are obvious examples, but it is more likely that this is occurring without us realizing it has taken place. For example, we have a big opportunity that is going to require a massive change in our lives. We tell friends and family about the opportunity. They begin to project their fears onto us about the opportunity. It is not intentional. They cannot help themselves. How do we deal with this type of projection? I suggest asking yourself if the person has direct experience with the subject matter. If they do, consider their feedback but if they do not have the experience, disregard. Parents are the worst at this one. We tend to project our fears onto our children. We project our fear of failure onto them. Selfishly, we worry about what others will think if our child fails. We worry that their mistake will directly reflect on us. It’s time to stop projecting our fears onto others, and to stop letting the fears of others prevent us from moving forward.
The fear of failure seems to include all of the fears listed above. Fear of failure is the unspoken excuse. We do not know why we are so afraid of failure but the fear is real. Maybe we fear failure because we do not want to let others down. Again, maybe it is a fear of letting our parents down or others. This fear is often used as the reason for not getting started, but it can help us to succeed if we channel it correctly. Let it motivate you to take action towards your better future.
Here are some ideas to consider when fear is getting the best of you:
-Visualize a successful outcome and journal about it.
-Have a plan and monitor progress (but don’t obsess over it).
-Try meditation as a tool for getting control of a runaway mind.
-Do something that makes you uncomfortable (cold showers, public speaking, talking to someone you don’t know, Facebook Live, etc.) as often as possible.
-Create a daily habit checklist to help you track the desired change (write the date on each line and across the top write the habit – Pray, H2O, Meditate, Journal, Exercise, Cold Shower, Reach Out to a Friend, etc. – check off the action when complete or put a dash if you missed it).
Fear is natural and necessary. Uncontrolled fear leads to anxiety and a slew of other health related issues. Here is a good rule – If you can’t touch it, don’t fear it. Anything out of your circle of influence is not something you can fix. Let’s stop obsessing over things we can’t change, and start pursuing a life well-lived.