I’m not going to sit here and tell you to be fearless. Fearlessness is just not possible and it actually will do more harm than good. Fear can be a positive in your life. It keeps you from walking into oncoming traffic and from touching a hot stove.
Fear can also control us. Keeping us from pursuing our dreams, asking out that girl, venturing on a big trip around the world, or learning a new language.
As mentioned above listening to our fears can be beneficial by keeping us from getting hurt. Those examples address real limitations. We physically can not touch a hot stove without getting burned. We can not walk into oncoming traffic without getting hit by a car. We are excepting out limitations. Which in this case is a good thing.
But why is it that we set personal limits on areas of our life like holding onto a job that we find no passion for, not approaching that guy or girl in Starbucks we could not stop staring at, or selling some of our junk and ponying up for a life altering trip around the world?
Simple. We’re scared, comfortable, and content. We feel like things are “just good enough.” Afraid to pursue what we know in our hearts is better and more meaningful in favor of the safe and mundane.
We do not believe or have enough confidence in ourselves to understand that we have the strength to pick up the pieces if things breakdown. We believe that we’re not smart enough to figure out how to put those pieces back together. We do not want to deal with any embarrassment, ridicule, or shame that may come along with that failure.
So much personal doubt and belief in our own inadequacies inhibits us from finding true success.
WARNING… the following post will make you think.
HOW DO FEAR AND LIMITS WORK?
Giving ourselves personal limitations provides us with a sense of control. It lets us feel like we’re defining who we are, what we are capable of and allows us to have excuses for why or why not we should or could do certain things. The unknown is scary. By defining our limitations we’re creating a sense of identity or “knowing” of who we are. But really what we’re doing is inhibiting ourselves from growing, not experiencing, and not challenging our soul.
Fear and personal limitations keep us from having to change or evolve. Change and evolution can be a difficult and painful process. We may have to move on without certain people in our lives or switch careers to pursue a more meaningful passion.
Dr. Travis Fox describes fear and limitations as allowing us to judge others while actually not participating in the “game” ourselves. We stand on the sideline and point fingers while others are living.
HOW DO YOU ADDRESS FEAR AND LIMITS?
To overcome our personal limitations we first need to figure out what they are. This will be different for everyone. But take a moment and think about the following.
1. Past failures: What have you failed at in your past. Why did you not try again? How bad was it actually? How did you overcome it?
2. Who am I right now? Who do I want to be? What do I want to do?: What are you good at, what do you know, and what are you passionate about? How can you revolve your life around those things and share with the people around you. Don’t just sit down and create a 1,000 item bucket list. Most of the time those lists have generic thoughts of things we “think” we want or “should” experience based upon the opinions of others.
What creates emotion in you? If you do not want to travel than a trip to Argentina should not be on your list. But if you love to read than taking in a book a week should. Take a day and write things down. Just keep writing. Anything thing you write that gives you goosebumps, makes you laugh, or makes you cry should be something you take a good hard look at.
3. Think of a time you were afraid but went after it anyway. Why? What was the reason?
4. Think of the worse case scenario. How likely is that to occur, really? Think of what is worse, failing at your dream job or the temporary job you have now? Is it worth it to fail in a relationship with your dream guy or girl or settle with a relationship that is ok and safe?
5. Address what is REALLY holding you back: Are you not learning how to surf because you are over weight and afraid to take of your shirt at the beach? Are you not going to the gym because you’re not sure where to start and don’t want to be judged?
LET FEAR BE YOUR GUIDE
How many of us right now are doing something that really makes us come alive? Why are you not doing it?
Accept that the path we are on is ever-changing and constantly evolving. There will always be fear. If not this one than a new one. Take a look at your fears. Your limits. Who are you now? Who will you be after you dominate them? How good will it feel?
Like most things in life tackling personal limitations is all about creating positive habits. Once we have established a means for addressing them it get easier and easier to duplicate that process. Smashing one fear can lead to the confidence and belief that we can smash another, and another, and…. well you get the drift.
BUILD THE FAITH
In order to tackle out greatest fears we need to build the faith in ourselves that we can actually do it!
Think about it like this. Why do you agree to get on an airplane to fly cross-country? Because you have faith that it’s not going to crash (I apologize to any one flying the next couple days. I hope I did not scare the ba-jesus out of you.) It’s been instilled in us that flying in an airplane for the most part is a very safe method to get from one place to another.
Chances are you have flown a few times before and returned safely. You have added to that faith and built up the confidence to keep doing it.
We need to approach our fears in the same way. To build the faith that we can conquer them. To up our confidence quotient so that we believe we are capable of achieving great things and conquering difficult obstacles.
OVERCOME THE FEAR TO TRY
Don’t get caught up in whether or not you are successful in overcoming your fear (unless it’s sky-diving, then you’ll want to make sure you are successful 😀 ) focus your energy on the fear of just trying. If all of your thoughts are stuck on whether or not you will be successful chances are you’ll never get started.
So much effort will be wasted on making sure things are perfect. The right time, right situation, the right resources. It’s ok to fail. The most important thing is to just try! You build confidence by succeeding but that soon dwindles. The process of actually trying educates us, teaches us how to pursue other fears and aspirations. You learn the process for doing more and being more.
You have to give yourself the chance to fail. If you don’t, you are never really giving yourself a real shot to succeed. So just get started! Educate and learn as the process is evolving in front of you.
FEARS IN A NUT SHELL
Through my research I have found that fears are rooted deeply into 14 principles:
- Disease/poor health
- Losing our job
- Uncertainty/the future
- Making decisions
- Losing relationships
- Public speaking
- being poor
This can be simplified a bit more into 7 main categories.
1. The fear of experience: Experience requires us to try new things. To feel a rush of different emotions, sensations, physical limitations, mental limitations. Trying new experiences creates uncertainty and pushes out of our comfort zone. We may longer feel “safe” or in control of ourselves or our emotions.
2. The fear of isolation: Being by ourselves scares the shit out of a lot of people. Being by ourselves releases the distraction of the world around us and gives us a chance to really become conscious about who we are. Society is so busy now. So many distractions. Our cell phones, TV, friends, work. We never get a chance to get into our own head because it is constantly moving from one distraction to the next. Being alone calms everything down and forces us to actually get to know ourselves.
A few years ago I took a trip around the world for 2 months alone. It was one of the biggest personal challenges of my life. Not for the fact that I was in various countries all by my lonesome but more so because it forced me to think about who I really was as a person and what I really wanted out of life.
3. The fear of vulnerability: Sharing ourselves with others can be terrifying. Opening up to someone with who you truly are can leave you to be hurt, ridiculed, judged, betrayed. But not doing so can leave you to never experience complete joy, love, compassion, intimacy. It’s a real catch 22. I know many of us, myself included have created a false identity of who we are just to avoid putting yourself out there.
4. The fear of responsibility: It’s easier to blame others and to avoid taking responsibilities for our own actions and the consequences of those actions. This requires us to take a good look at what we really want and who we really want to be. Not only to discover how our decisions will impact us but others around us as well.
5. The fear of identity: It’s hard to get to a point when we realize we are not who we thought we were. Or maybe to realize we have changed and have to values, goals, or dreams. How can we reinvent ourselves, where to we start? It may force us to reevaluate relationships, our career, our passions.
6. The fear of success: When you put yourself out there to achieve great success you can often open up your mind to the possibility of failure. Some of us are afraid of the humiliation of failure, being judged, the reevaluation of our abilities. Others of us are afraid of success. If we actually succeed we may have to actually keep up with it. More expectations, more challenges, more opportunities to fail. I know personally the fear of actually succeeding as buried me. kept me from pursuing certain aspirations. This blog was one of them. If people actually read it I will have to continue delivering solid content… can you hear that…. it’s the worlds smallest violin playing just for me.
7. The fear of impermanence: This sums up all of the fears into one. The fear that everything around us is constantly evolving, changing, and forcing the issue of uncertainty and challenge. This is why we constantly seek safety, certainty, comfortably. The easy road is the one most often traveled. A path to follow has been imprinted by the many footsteps that have led the way.
There are many ways to get through the woods. Some paths we find will be open and easy to navigate. Others will be filled with obstacles, thorns, and challenges that will force us to expand our physical and metal capabilities.
Finding your own path can be difficult. You are bigger than fear. Always have been, always will be.
Our deepest fear by Marianne Williamson (Coach Carter, 2005)
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BUILD THE FEAR CRUSHING HABIT
So many different ways to attack your limitations and fears but the most important thing is to just frick’n start! Take action now!
30 days: Tackle smaller fears and limitations for 30 days. If you get overwhelmed easy and your mind can become a cluster-f#@# causing anxiety. Try a personal challenge of meditation for 30 days. Do you want to lose weight. Try exercising for 30 straight days. That might seem crazy but you don’t have to go all out. Just get yourself moving a bit. Build the habit of getting to the gym, or walking your dog outside every day.
Put a timetable on it: Give yourself a timetable to decimate a fear or limit. This makes it a little more real. Instead of just throwing down sky-diving on to your “bucket list.” Actually say that you will go sky-diving by a certain date. Turn it into a giant poster and hang it up in your room where it will serve as a reminder everyday. Try and keep it short-term. 1-3 months tops.
Ask for help: Bigger long-term fears and limitations may require you to command the services of someone who has been there and done that. Find a mentor, educate yourself through reading, spend more time around those that are doing it. If you want to quit your job and start your own business contact those that are doing it. Hang our with entrepreneurs. It will rub off on you. Plus you’ll have some badass connections.
Document it or share in it: I believe that documenting it serves as gigantic motivating tool. Being able to read, look back at pictures or videos, or talking about it with someone else that did it with you is highly motivational. It’s sort of like a camp fire that might be dwindling out a bit but then you toss a little lighter fluid onto it and it heats back up. Heck, you can contact me and share.
Let the world know: Shout it loud and proud. Some will argue this but I prefer to tell as many people as possible my fears and goals. The more people who know the better. It holds me accountable. If I don’t smash them I will feel like I am letting other people down.
Most importantly find your why: Get down to the heart and soul of that matter. Why do you want to conquer this fear? What you will get out of it. Why will you be better after achieving it?
So now what?
What is a fear or personal limit you can tackle today. Right now!
What is one you can crush in a month, 3 months, this year.
What is a lifetime limitation you can destroy!
Give me a shout. I’d love to hear about it or thrown it down in the comments below.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
Photo – Shark
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