Fear is a natural response to sudden changes and dangers around us. Sometimes fear can even be a productive force, moving us to action when crisis strikes. The problem that inevitably arises from fear, however, is when we incorporate it into our lives, letting it drive our thoughts, decisions and emotions that ultimately pull us away from dreams and opportunities. Rather than being motivated to react, we can become mired in negative emotions that keep our progress frozen day after day.
Overcoming fear and anxiety can be a difficult process, especially when we attempt to conquer it by ourselves. When our minds are already influenced by negative thoughts, we can go about life feeling drained and listless without even realizing why. My desire here is to offer tools that will help you understand how fear works and how you can overcome it.
Why Fear Is So Persistent
Anxiety and fear have been a part of human existence for a long time. Even in the everyday, small changes may cause upsets that, when internalized and obsessed over, lead to long term, negative consequences. When we don’t have an outlet to recognize and express our fears, we can develop damaging mentalities that affect our everyday work.
An example might help here: scarcity mentality, a state of mind that focuses on what we lack and the notion that we will never have enough. This fear-driven mindset can cause anger, distraction, a dread of change and a sense of limitation. When we get lost in ourselves and what we lack, we isolate ourselves from those who can help us and the big opportunities in life that await us when we’re willing to take risks.
Another example, the nagging thought that we (or our ideas) are not enough, that we need an "expert" to chime in to prop up or validate our idea can keep us waiting for the validation before we put our idea out into the world. This particular damaging mentality has kept me stuck for long periods of time!
When we teach ourselves to look at life from a hopeful, optimistic point of view, we can see the truth: that we are not alone and that helping others in turn helps ourselves. People who adopt a mindset of abundance are able to set goals with confidence, embrace change and pursue their dreams as they #moveforwardanyway.
What Fear Does To Us Over Time
One of the reasons fear and anxiety have become a topic of increasing concern is their effect on our everyday health. They both have similar symptoms like muscle tension and an increased heart rate, but they do function differently and those subtleties are important to note.
While fear is associated with a direct, immediate threat, anxiety is associated with an unknown, often ongoing or future threat. Running into a bear in the middle of the woods would almost certainly trigger a fear response, while hearing rumors about layoffs at work would likely cause anxiety over your job security.
Fear can cause anxiety and anxiety can cause fear, creating a circular cycle of discomfort and tension when they persist. In order to cope with the negative feelings, we often push away any idea of pain or risk to keep ourselves from getting hurt. In order to find peace of mind and allow ourselves to #fearnotdreambig, we need to actively change the way we think and find the strength to confront our fears in healthy ways.
Change the way you think by reframing your limiting beliefs into a postIve, even inspiring mantra or slogan. Some of my favorites that participants from our Dream Accelerator have come up with are "I Am" (as in... I am enough, I don't need the validation of so-called experts.) or, "Hold My Beer" (as in...I'm ready to take the jump and do this even though I might think I'm crazy!) and, "Focus and Finish" (as in...stop letting distraction hold the upper hand, and focus on the next step and take it.)
How To Overcome Fear
There’s no cure-all for overcoming the fear and anxiety that plagues our everyday lives. In fact, the focus should not even be on overcoming it. Fear after all, will come and stay. We need to learn how to #moveforwardanyway. Take fear along for the ride. Every person and situation is different and there’s no trivializing that simple fact. That being said, there are certainly methods and resources available to help you face your fears and start to develop a hopeful mindset that can help you break free of anxieties holding back your dreams.
- Find Hope In Community
Reach out to those you trust to discuss your fears and anxieties. Although exposing your vulnerabilities is often uncomfortable, it allows you to grow and face your fears by speaking them aloud to someone else.
At a recent speaking engagement I was impressed by a young entrepreneur who shared that the event gave him hope that he had found his people. I was there to help the entrepreneurs in the room come to grips with their own doubt, distractions, delay, discouragement, and despair as it related to their dream pursuits. It was freeing in this safe environment to discover that they were not alone, and that they had others around them who were experiencing the same fears. for some of these successful dreamers it wast he first time they were not laboring alone. They had found hope in community with their people.
Who are your people?
- Nurture a Mentality of Abundance
Rather than placing the focus on yourself, allow yourself to think of what you you can do for others. Here are a few questions that might help you:
Why YOUR dream?
What will the accomplishment of YOUR dream mean for others?
What is the risk if you do not pursue YOUR dream?
What will the world be missing if you don't realize YOUR dream?
If you sense the opportunity to invest in someone else or have the chance to offer something that can help another person succeed, take the chance to do it! Not only does this encourage a positive attitude—it will also create more opportunities for other people to help and care for you in turn. In other words...
Focus on your dream,
not on your capabilities or resources.
- Start Small and Dream Big
Any large undertaking can be frightening to consider. When you break big tasks and changes into smaller ones, however, you can manage your efforts easier. You can’t control everything that happens in your life, (in fact, you can't guarantee how anything will turn out) but taking hold of what you can control one step at a time can give you the motivation you need to #moveforwardanyway.
For More Advice
Looking for more advice about how you can overcome your fears and pursue your dreams? My book, Fear Not, Dream Big, & Execute offers further insights to help you. For direct coaching to make changes to your life today, schedule some time to dream.