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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 July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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