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Is Fear Holding You Back?

Is Fear Holding You Back?

If you had to pick between being fearful and being fearless, which would best describe you?

If you’re one to hold back on decisions or avoid taking certain risks because of fear, are you content with your choices–or, do you feel restricted, and perhaps even have some sort of regret for not having been more bold about your decisions?

Fear is a scary emotion that can sometimes cripple us and hold us back from unleashing our true potential in life. Whether we like it or not, there’s always some form of fear in us.

I used to have fears holding me back, such as fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, and especially a fear of change. I didn’t like uncertainty, which is why I was so resistant to change.

But, over the years, as I learned the value of fear and how it can drive me towards fulfilling a greater purpose, fear itself became a lot less scary.

Why We Fear the Unknown

So why do we fear?

It’s pretty much in our nature to be afraid of the unknown. Consider the simple and common childhood fear of the dark. We’re afraid because we don’t know what’s in front of us.

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This doesn’t change much as we find ourselves in adulthood fearing change and taking risks. If we don’t know what’s in front of us, it is hard to feel comfortable with the idea of moving forward.

Research by psychologists suggests that we generally prefer to anticipate consequences,[1] which makes sense as it allows us to both mentally and physically prepare for the outcome, so we’re not caught off guard.

There are many layers of emotions that are associated with your fear of the unknown; and, overcoming this fear requires you to dig deep to find the courage to actually step into the unknown.

Boost Your Self Confidence

Before you can start to face your fears, it’s critical to understand yourself, your limits, and your capabilities, so that you can be the best version of you when you set off to overcome your obstacles.

Low self-esteem can affect how a person views the world. The world can appear as a hostile place and even create a victim mentality. People with low self esteem often miss out on experiences and opportunities and feel powerless to changing the outcome of their circumstances; this even further decreases their self esteem, and creates a vicious cycle.

Fortunately, whether you have healthy self esteem or not, there are many active ways to boost your self confidence and reap the benefits of said confidence boost.

Self-esteem issues are found in the gap between who you presently are, and who you think you should be. Paradoxically, most causes of low self-esteem stem from how others see or treat you; yet, the solution to increasing your self-esteem is something that needs to come from the inside out, not from the outside in.

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Building your self-esteem is not an easy task, but it can be done with the right strategies and encouragement. So, if you’d like to find out more about ways to boost up your confidence, I’ll recommend you check out this article:

How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

Gain Clarity

If the main reason we’re fearful is because we don’t know what’s going to happen, then we simply need to know!

It’s important to establish a purpose so we can better understand where we’re going, which will help eliminate the unknown and help us familiarize ourselves with what to expect.

Do you know what your purpose is?

If we have a sense of purpose in how we are productive– if we seek a calling–then we will find our contribution to humanity and we will find more to life.

Research shows that having a purpose in life increases overall well-being, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency and self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression.[2]

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So, it should be noted that to be happy in life isn’t always enough, because happiness is a surge of emotions that does not last. Instead, it’s more important to find and have meaning in life.

Meaning is not only about transcending the self but also about transcending the present moment. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive effects and feelings of pleasure are fleeting.

Meaning is what will guide you steadily through your life’s journey; if you have meaning, you’ll be better equipped to face the ups and downs.

When you’re able to find meaning and a purpose for what you’re doing, the fears you had before will start to disappear because you actually know where or what it is that you’re going after. 

Use the Power of Visualization

Another lesser known, but very powerful, tool to help you overcome your fears is the technique of visualization.

Noted as a form of mental rehearsal, visualization has been popular since the Soviets started using it back in the 1970s to compete in sports. Now, many athletes employ this technique, including Tiger Woods who has been using it since his pre-teen years.

Seasoned athletes use vivid, highly detailed internal images and run-throughs of entire performances, engaging all their senses in their mental rehearsal and combining their knowledge of the sports venue with mental rehearsal.

Even heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali, used different mental practices to enhance his performance in the ring such as: affirmation; visualization; mental rehearsal; self-confirmation; and perhaps the most powerful epigram of personal worth ever uttered: “I am the greatest”.

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Brain studies now reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. So the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization.

It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and increase states of flow – all relevant to achieving your best life!

Australian psychologist Alan Richardson found that a person who consistently visualizes a certain physical skill develops “muscle memory” which then is helpful to him when he actually engages in the activity. This shows that the correlation between visualization and attaining one’s goals that should not be taken lightly![3]

Conquer Your Fear and Reach Your Goals

At the end of the day, what have you to lose?

Why let your fears get the better of you, when it is fully within your means to overcome them?

Remember, we all have our fears, and go through different degrees of failure in life because that’s how we know we’re growing and moving forward for the better in life.

So, if there are certain fears holding you back from progressing ahead, it’s time to take an active step to understanding them, and overcoming them.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Filippo Ruffini on Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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