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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 March 31, 2020

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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3. Still No Action

More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

4. Flicker of Hope Left

You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

5. Fading Quickly

Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

6. Vow to Yourself

Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

2. Plan

Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

3. Resistance

Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

4. Confront Those Feelings

Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

5. Put Results Before Comfort

You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

6. Repeat

Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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Final Thoughts

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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