Are you paralyzed by thoughts that you’re just not good enough?
Fear causes us to believe that we can’t actually achieve our goals. And for some of us, it’s the main reason we don’t allow ourselves to even think about, dream about, or even believe for a single moment that we can change our lives.
- “I can’t achieve my goals because I’m afraid.”
- “I’m afraid of failing, or messing up.”
- “I’m worried about what others will think of me.”
- “I’m afraid I won’t get followers or clients.”
- “I’m paralyzed by making the right choices.”
Does any of this sound familiar?
And what do you do when you’re afraid? When fear is THE THING standing between you and your dreams? Between you and what you want the most?
Popular wisdom might tell you to just do it anyway, to be brave and jump right in.
You’ve no doubt heard that you need to be brave, take big risks or there’s no big payoff for you. No risk, no rewards! Anyone else feeling a little queasy just thinking about it?
This type of “overcome your fears right now” advice can lead many of us to experience even deeper forms of fears and anxiety. “BIG RISK!” Yikes, way to clear a room.
We’re led to believe that in order to even get started on our goals and dreams we need to first be brave, fearless, and insanely confident in ourselves. That an “I can so do this, nothing can stop me, I am invincible” attitude gets us there.
That in order to achieve your goals, you need to first overcome your fears, which is why we say, “I can’t, I’m afraid of (insert your fear of choice here)” and *hit the escape button* on our dreams.
What if I told you that achieving your goals and living your dreams DOES NOT require you to overcome your fears?
That you can be afraid and achieve your goals at the same time, that fear isn’t simply this major obstacle you need to overcome, but an important guidance system that you need to understand.
This is Part 2, of a 6-Part Series on How to Actually Achieve Your Goals.
#GoalSlayerSeries breaks down the honest unfiltered truth about what it really takes to achieve your goals. Each post explores one major mindset shift that you need to make in order to become a Goal Slayer (aka someone who achieves their goals without apology or excuse).
In Part 1, we learned why we need to stop setting goals and start setting intentions instead. How intentions are the desire of our inner voice and how we can start listening.
Let’s continue with how understanding your fear helps you take action.
What is Fear Anyways?
We’ve all felt it, we avoid it, but do we even know what fear really is?
Fear is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid” – Dictionary.com
That’s a pretty intense definition.
In other words, fear is your built-in warning system, it helps you stay safe when it senses imminent harm to your person. Your onboard alarm system (aka fear) goes off so you can act or react in a way that keeps you safe.
Fear keeps you safe. It’s a good thing! Imagine living your life without ever feeling fear. Sure it sounds like a good thing, you’d be fearless, but you’d probably also be reckless, and quickly wreck your life.
We encounter problems with fear when it activates to “keep us safe” from imagined threats. And oh how our mind LOVES to imagine threats, danger, doom, gloom, and destruction around every corner. I am convinced that all our imaginative powers from childhood grow up to work in the creating fear factory in our brains.
Where Does Fear Come From?
Most of the fears we have now, real or imagined, we’ve picked up as we grow. They compound our instinctive, survival-based fears that trace back to early humans, who literally needed them to stay safe from the very real dangers of wild animals and harsh conditions. Sabertooth Tiger, ah!
On the other hand, our learned fears are from experience or belief. We’ve interpreted these lessons as negative things that are bad for our safety, which is why we’re afraid. Whether that’s being afraid of catching a virus from exposure or being afraid of failing when we try.
“Fear can be learned through direct experience with a threat, but it can also be learned via social means such as verbal warnings or observing others.” – Psychological Science
Let’s break down the two ways you’ve developed your fears:
Have you ever tried something and have it go terribly wrong or not so great? A bad experience can be anything from feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable when you try something new all the way to having a traumatic life experience.
- What are you uncomfortable about?
- What events from your past haunt you?
- Does your mind play painful memories on repeat?
All of this can cause us to “hit the escape button” at the thought of leaving our comfort zone, trying something new, or putting ourselves out there. Your fear is “protecting you” from feeling like this again.
We inherit belief systems from our parents, friends, religion, culture, and society. No matter where you live there’s a system of beliefs in place. You live your life according to these beliefs that inform what’s possible or impossible, what you should or shouldn’t do, what’s right and what’s wrong, and so on.
- What do you believe is possible or impossible for you?
- What should you or shouldn’t you be doing with your life?
- Do you disagree with any “common wisdom”?
Think of the belief system like the Matrix, it’s your programming! We’ve been taught how to think and how we should react. That certain outcomes are bad, and that we should “stay safe” by avoiding them.
Defying Your Fear of “What Is Safe”
A popular common wisdom (or belief) is that going to university and getting a good job lead to a happy and successful life. Your parents believe it, your education system is built on it, you likely lived your life according to it.
Perhaps like me, you’ve learned that this isn’t necessarily true. Whether or not leaving your 9-5, starting your own business/blog, or dare I say skipping University all together are actually “unsafe” choices, we still fear them.
Real or imagined, it’s how our minds work and have been wired by experience and belief, to keep us safe. And for some of us, this fear keeps us “safe and sound” in a life we hate, working a job that drives us nuts, all for a pay check that keeps us safe. We’re miserable, we’re unfulfilled, ignoring our inner voice, but we’re physically okay.
Realizations like this go against your base programming, so defying and redefining what “safe” actually is for you takes time. You can’t overcome this fear with the flip of a switch, that’s just not how it works.
Perhaps it is that survival instinct still at work in us after all?
Understanding Your Fear of Achieving Your Goals
You have dreams and goals you want to achieve, but you’re stuck at “I’m afraid.” As the opening montage to an amazing movie, it starts playing and before the movie picks up, you hit the escape button.
So instead of thinking about all the good possibilities that could happen, we freeze, “hit escape” and stay where it’s safe in our comfort zone.
Nothing bad happens in the comfort zone, but nothing great happens either. You’re still “safe and sound” in a situation you’re not loving. And every time you submit your thoughts and your actions to the fear, you’re actually reinforcing it.
You may not be able to control what happens to you or change “the system”, BUT you can control your thoughts. In this space, you are in control. You rule your mind!
And here’s the trippy part, your thoughts create your reality. So by changing your thoughts, you are literally changing your reality. How amazing is that?
“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Augustus Menninger
Start disagreeing and disrupting your fears when they enter your mind.
'Fear doesn't shut you down; it wakes you up.' ― Veronica Roth Click To Tweet
Our Mind Running in “Safe Mode”
Let’s take a look at this in action, “I want to achieve my goals, but I’m afraid that I can’t actually do it.” Now for the slow-motion replay:
- You want to achieve your goal, of course, you do! Who doesn’t?
- You start thinking about what life could be like if only you could…
- BUT THEN, your mind starts racing towards all the reasons why you can’t (belief system) it all starts to feel too big, too impossible…
- You remember that time you shared your idea with a friend and got shut down… (experience)
- So, you hit the *escape button*
- You decided to “stay safe” right where you are instead.
And the next time, maybe your inner voice whispers that you’re unhappy and need to change.
- You start thinking about what life could be like if you tried…
- Your thoughts turn negative towards all there…
- AND *You hit the escape button*
- Safe again!
Then again, you feel that scatch, that itch for something more…
- but before you can even start…
- Almost out of instinct, *You hit the eject button*
Fear keeps us safe until safe is no longer safe.
Ask yourself, do you want to stay safe? Or do you want to be happy and actually feel successful in your life?
VS. Our Minds “Hacking “the Fear
Let’s run this again, “I want to achieve my goals, but I’m afraid that I can’t actually do it.”
- Ask yourself, why do you believe you can’t actually do it? What’s the evidence? Or is this a limiting belief?
- Refute the fear by remembering a time you did something successfully.
- Speak a positive thought, like “Actually I can!”
- Bring it home, by saying “I choose happiness” (or whatever your own positive intention is – if you don’t have one check out part one of this series).
It sounds too simple to work right? The more you do it the less real that fear becomes, and the less safe it starts feeling.
You need to redefine for yourself what safe is, what you deserve and can actually live with.
Safe is a place where you’re able to be yourself, feel like yourself, and where you are comfortable enough to try and achieve what you want in this life. Anywhere else is unsafe, despite what your fears tell you.
There’s a reason you want to achieve your goals and change your life. Safe isn’t so safe anymore, and you know it.“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” — Marie CurieClick To Tweet
How to Understand Your Fear
It’s time to use fear to your advantage.
Fear is not meant to paralyze us in inaction or indecision, but rather to guide us to make an informed decision or take informed action. It’s meant for us to be aware and awake, not to run away but to find where is safe.
Fear isn’t designed to keep us inactive, but to help us act in ways that generate the results we need and want. Embrace fear as instruction and let it inform your actions, but not control them. – Josh Steimble
The next time you’re afraid of achieving your goals go on the defensive with yourself.
Ask questions like,
- Why do you feel this way? Is it true or is it your programming?
- Is it your mind trying to keep you safe?
- What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen?
- And is that “worse” than staying where it’s “safe”?
And then take one tiny step towards redefining what safe is. Do something that gets you a closer look at your goals and dreams.
Understanding how you’ve developed your fears is the key to taking action despite them.
Be Afraid, but Take Action Anyways
I would never tell you not to be afraid or to run head-on into what scares you. But rather to feel your fear, understand why you feel it, disagree with it, and then take one tiny step towards it.
You don’t need to be a fearless gladiator defeating your fears, you need to be an explorer, who seeks to understand and get closer to what you fear.
Just one tiny step, one act of defiance.
For example, if you want to achieve your goal to be self-employed, don’t quit your job (that’s wreckless), instead, go on Pinterest or Google and look up possible work from home options. It’s just a Google search, but you’re flirting with your fear. “Ohhh, self-employed, you might be safe after all” *bats eyelashes*
And the magical part of all of this is that every time you take a tiny step, a closer look at what you’re afraid of, you’re learning that there’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re teaching yourself that you’re okay! That you’re safe!
No big risks required – no letters of resignation or big grand gestures.
Just you getting a bit closer to what you want most in the world – to feel truly safe, happy and successful. To manifest your authentic self in your life.
Go back to Part 1 of the #GoalSlayerSeries and seek your intention, make it your mantra, your new safe.
You don’t need to overcome your fear to take action towards your goal, or to be fearless, just to take tiny steps that make you feel your fear less.
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Last Updated on February 15, 2021