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Last Updated on May 9, 2019

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 January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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