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Are you living consciously in an unconscious world?

Are you living consciously in an unconscious world?

You may have noticed that our world is something of a chaotic place lately. Loud. Noisy. Frantic. Angry. Violent. Fearful. Just watch the news. Actually, don’t. And by ‘world’, I mean the physical world we inhabit, not the self-created one inside our head. Although that can be a pretty awful place too. When we let it be.

    A Personal Search

    For me, a large part of the last decade has been something of a personal expedition beyond the world of logic, academia, business, conventional thinking, religion and even (the traditional approach to) personal development. While all of those things serve a purpose and have value (of course), I wanted to see what lives beyond them. After all, sometimes terms like ‘logic’ and ‘common sense’ are just euphemisms for fear and not-knowing-any-different. And, to be completely honest, sometimes success doesn’t feel very, er, successful.

    If you know what I mean.

    A Realisation

    I arrived at a point in my life where I had an overwhelming sense that, despite my reasonable education, mildly successful career and alleged knowledge and intelligence, I was missing out on something that could be fundamental to my existence, my future and to my potential growth. I wanted to see what existed beyond my programming. Beyond my (then) ‘current world view’. My social conditioning. My default setting. My comfort zone. My formal education. My self-limiting beliefs. My expectations. My fears. And my prejudices.

    I considered the notion that maybe my concept of how the world and all its intricacies ‘worked’ (life, death, people, relationships, spirituality, wealth, happiness, misery, success, failure, fear, destiny, etc.) was the very thing which held me back. I also considered the notion that perhaps my over-thinking mind was, ironically, my barrier to learning, understanding and enjoying a new way of being. I wanted to learn more about my non-cerebral self.

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    Could it be that in some ways, with some issues, I was missing the point? Could my mind possibly be a handicap (with some things)? Could it be that I’ve been taught things – perhaps many things – which simply aren’t true? Or maybe, not true for me. But surely if enough people believe the same thing, it must be true?

    Much of the information (teaching) you and I receive (from about kindergarten onwards) tells us that success, and therefore happiness, is largely about what we can accumulate, do, achieve, control, own and look like. I decided to explore what success might look like working from the inside-out and not the other way around (the conventional model).

    A Glimpse of What Might Be

    Have you ever had an experience, perhaps a brief moment in time, when a door to a different world was opened for you? Perhaps a moment when you got a glimpse of something more than your current perception of reality? A time when you secretly (or maybe openly) questioned everything you’ve ever thought, believed and known? A time when you realised that maybe there is a different way to ‘do’ life? A different way to experience, think (or not think), feel and be?

    For me, there came a stage when I realised that the way I saw the world was just that: the way I saw it. My version of reality. And that in itself can be a limitation. Doesn’t have to be, but can be. This realisation, this awakening, was the beginning of my journey towards consciousness. Or, should I say, a more conscious version of me. I committed to becoming more aware, more open and less ‘right’. Damn that need to be right.

    I determined to stop thinking that I knew so much, to stop assuming and to stop finding comfort and safety in the familiar and the cerebral. And no, I didn’t have any plans to become some kind of soft-speaking, all-knowing, sandal-wearing mystical, magical, enlightened guru living in a cave and writing sacred texts on parchment (although, I don’t mind a good sandal and I do like a nice piece of parchment) but rather, just a simple and hopeful desire to become a more conscious, aware and humble person.

    A Parable

    Imagine you’ve spent your entire life in a medium-sized town (probably not a stretch for some of you). And living in that medium-sized town, your parents have always warned you, no, they have ordered you, not to venture down certain streets or to go into certain areas. For your own good. You’re told not to go down those streets because it’s dangerous. Unsafe. You might get hurt. Bad things happen there. Since you were a kid, you were taught that all you ever needed for happiness and security existed in ‘your part’ of town.

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    Strangely, nobody in your part of town ever seemed to be particularly happy.

    Then one day you’re an adult and you make a bold decision to talk to your parents about life beyond the safe-zone. You’ve been curious for a long time but nobody ever discusses it. Ever. You wonder why. You feel you’re now old enough to know exactly what lies beyond those safe and familiar (and let’s be honest, boring) streets. You want to know more. To have some insight into a world beyond the only one you’ve ever experienced.

    You muster up the courage to ask your father exactly what it’s like down those forbidden streets. You want details. You tell him it’s time. You ask the question and he stares at you blankly. He says nothing. He looks a little guilty and sheepish; two looks you’ve never seen before. You ask again. More silence. Your stomach sinks a little as you begin to realise something. Something big. You look to your mother. She shrugs her shoulders and looks to the ground. Your stomach churns. You realise they’ve never been there. They have no answers for you. Only fear. Fear of the unknown.

    They’ve trained you to be terrified of something they know nothing about. Just as they themselves were trained.

    In desperation, you run to the phone and dial your grandfather: the wise old family patriarch. He will know. He knows everything. Two minutes later you put down the phone. Shattered and disillusioned, you walk slowly to the window. You feel physically ill. You stare out and wonder what lies beyond your familiar surroundings. All of a sudden, those streets you know so well have come to represent something else. In a heartbeat you make a decision to take a trip. You tell your concerned parents you’re going on a journey. They panic. They protest. Scared of the unknown.

    They have built their own prison. And you decide you’ve been an inmate for too long.

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    You fill a backpack with some supplies and prepare yourself mentally. You’re not really sure what to pack because you don’t know where you’re going, what you’ll find or when you’ll return. Or even, if you’ll return. You walk out of the house and, as you do, you close the door on a lifetime of fear, control, pointless repetition, repression and self-limiting beliefs. You love your parents and they love you but, despite your respect for them and appreciation of them, you don’t want to become them.

    As you begin your walk, your heart is filled with hope and possibilities. In a moment of clarity and insight, a small voice tells you that an important part of the journey ahead is really about what you’re leaving behind: insecurity, fear, self-doubt, self-limiting thinking, crazy rules and destructive beliefs.

    As you reach the outer limits of the ‘safe-zone’ your irrational (but understandable) childhood fears have been replaced with curiosity and excitement. Before long, you have travelled further than ever before and to your surprise and delight, the new place is not terrifying at all. In fact, it’s beautiful. And magical. Even though you’ve never been there, you feel like you’ve come home. For the first time ever, you feel like you belong.

    Knowledge Beyond Education

    It’s my belief that in the process of life we often allow ourselves to become disconnected from our inner intelligence. From the ‘knowing’ we have beyond our experiences. Beyond our education. Beyond logic. Beyond what we’ve been told to believe and trained to do. I believe we’re all born with an intelligence and a consciousness that’s hard-wired into our DNA. There are things we ‘just know’ without ever having been taught them. In animals we call this instinct.

    We humans have no problem believing in the ability of animals to just know certain things. However, when it comes to us very educated, intellectual and over-thinking humans, we often find ways to discount things such as inbuilt knowledge. Or human instinct. Some call it genetic intelligence. And sadly, for many of us, if we can’t see it, touch it, measure it, graph it or explain it, we won’t believe in it. Or even consider it.

    Sometimes science is a limitation. As is knowledge.

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    Being a fundamentally flawed (but eternally curious) alpha-male, I’m still using my training wheels to explore the realms of consciousness and enlightenment. My ‘L’ plate is firmly fastened around my neck as I learn, grow and continue to ask questions. I know next-to-nothing but what I do know, excites me. The ideas of ‘tuning in to’ my genetic intelligence and becoming a more conscious being are things that simply feel right for me. Overdue even.

    Choosing to live consciously in an unconscious world presents many challenges, opportunities and lessons. It also presents me with a chance to experience life beyond those old familiar streets of my own medium-sized town.

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2020

    Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

    Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

    Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that avoiding failure eclipses the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.

    Fear is part of human nature. As an entrepreneur, I faced this same fear. My ego and identity became intertwined with my work, and when things didn’t go as planned, I completely shut down. I overcame this unhealthy relationship with fear, and I believe that you can, too.

    Together we’ll examine how you can use failure to your advantage instead of letting it run your life. We’ll also look at how to overcome fear of failure so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

    What Is Fear of Failure?

    If you are afraid of failure, it will cause you to avoid potentially harmful situations.

    Fear of failure keeps you from trying, creates self-doubt, stalls progress, and may lead you to go against your morals.

    What causes a fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failing exists:

    Patterns From Childhood

    Hyper-critical adults cause children to internalize damaging mindsets.[1] They establish ultimatums and fear-based rules. This causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. They carry this need for validation into adulthood.

    Perfectionism

    Perfectionism is often at the root of a fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.

    Over-Personalization

    The ego may lead us to over-identify with failures. It’s hard to look beyond failure at things like the quality of the effort, extenuating circumstances, or growth opportunities.[3]

    False Self-Confidence

    People with true confidence know they won’t always succeed. A person with fragile self-confidence avoids risks. They’d rather play it safe than try something new.[4]

    How the Fear of Failure Holds You Back

    Unhealthy Organization Culture

    Too many organizations today have cultures of perfection: a set of organizational beliefs that any failure is unacceptable. Only pure, untainted success will do.

    Imagine the stress and terror in an organization like that. The constant covering up of the smallest blemishes. The wild finger-pointing as everyone tries to shift the blame for the inevitable messes onto someone else. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

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    Miss out on Valuable Opportunities

    If some people fail to reach a complete answer because of the lure of some early success, many more fail because of their ego-driven commitment to what worked in the past. You often see this with senior people, especially those who made their names by introducing some critical change years ago.

    They shy away from further innovation, afraid that this time they might fail, diminishing the luster they try to keep around their names from past triumph.

    Besides, they reason, the success of something new might even prove that those achievements they made in the past weren’t so great after all. Why take the risk when you can hang on to your reputation by doing nothing?

    Such people are so deeply invested in their egos and the glories of their past that they prefer to set aside opportunities for future glory rather than risk even the possibility of failure.

    High Achievers Become Losers

    Every talent contains an opposite that sometimes turns it into a problem. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure that it ruins their lives. When a positive trait, like achievement, becomes too strong in someone’s life, it’s on the way to becoming a major obstacle.

    Achievement is a powerful value for many successful people. They’ve built their lives on it. They achieve at everything they do: school, college, sports, the arts, hobbies, work. Each fresh achievement adds to the power of the value in their lives.

    Gradually, failure becomes unthinkable. Maybe they’ve never failed yet in anything that they’ve done, so they have no experience of rising above it. Failure becomes the supreme nightmare: a frightful horror they must avoid at any cost.

    The simplest way to do this is never to take a risk, stick rigidly to what you know you can do, protect yourself, work the longest hours, double and triple check everything, and be the most conscientious and conservative person in the universe.

    If constant hard work, diligence, brutal working schedules and harrying subordinates won’t ward off the possibility of failing, use every other possible means to to keep it away. Falsify numbers, hide anything negative, conceal errors, avoid customer feedback, constantly shift the blame for errors onto anyone too weak to fight back.

    Loss of Creativity

    Over-achievers destroy their own peace of mind and the lives of those who work for them. People too attached to “goodness” and morality become self-righteous bigots. Those whose values for building close relationships become unbalanced slide into smothering their friends and family with constant expressions of affection and demands for love in return.

    Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant, when you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the most creative solution.

    The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity, too.

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    Balance counts more than you think. Some tartness must season the sweetest dish. A little selfishness is valuable even in the most caring person. And a little failure is essential to preserve everyone’s perspective on success.

    We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work, and in life.

    How to Overcome Fear of Failure (Step-by-Step)

    1. Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

    Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[5] When you look at the four main causes for a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you?

    Write down where you think the fear comes from, and try to understand it as an outsider.

    If it helps, imagine you’re trying to help one of your best friends. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood, or a deep-seated insecurity.

    Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.

    2. Reframe Beliefs About Your Goal

    Having an all or nothing mentality leaves you with nothing sometimes. Have a clear vision for what you’d like to accomplish but include learning something new in your goal.

    If you always aim for improvement and learning, you are much less likely to fail.[6]

    At Pixar, people are actually encouraged to “fail early and fail fast.”[7] They encourage experimentation and innovation so that they can stay on the cutting edge. That mindset involves failure, but as long as they achieve their vision of telling great stories, all the stumbling blocks are just opportunities to grow.

    3. Learn to Think Positive

    In many cases, you believe what you tell yourself. Your internal dialogue affects how you react and behave.

    Our society is obsessed with success, but it’s important to recognize that even the most successful people encounter failure.

    Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper because they thought he lacked creativity. He went on to found an animation studio that failed. He never gave up, and now Disney is a household name.

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    Steve Jobs was also once fired from Apple before returning as the face of the company for many years. [8]

    If Disney and Jobs had believed the negative feedback, they wouldn’t have made it.

    It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers[9]. Replace negative thoughts with positive facts about yourself and the situation. You’ll be able to create a new mental scripts that you can reach for when you feel negativity creeping in. The voice inside your head has a great effect on what you do.

    How To Be A Positive Thinker: Positivity Exercises, Affirmations, & Quotes

      4. Visualize all Potential Outcomes

      Uncertainty about what will happen next is terrifying. Take time to visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. Think about the best and worst-case scenarios. You’ll feel better if you’ve already had a chance to mentally prepare for what could happen.

      Fear of the unknown might keep you from taking a new job. Weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. Knowing how things could turn out might help you get unstuck.

      5. Look at the Worst-Case Scenario

      There are times when the worst case could be absolutely devastating. In many cases, if something bad happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

      It’s important to define how bad the worst case scenario is in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, we give situations more power than they deserve. In most cases, a failure is not permanent.

      For example, when you start a new business, it’s bound to be a learning experience. You’ll make decisions that don’t pan out, but often that discomfort is temporary. You can change your strategy and rebound. Even in the worst case scenario, if the perceived failure led to the end of that business, it might be the launching point for something new.

      6. Have a Backup Plan

      It never hurts to have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a solution when the worst has happened. The old adage is solid wisdom:

      “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

      Having a backup plan gives you more confidence to move forward and take calculated risks.

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      Perhaps you’ve applied for a grant to fund an initiative at work. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t get the grant, are there other ways you could get the funds?

      There are usually multiple ways to tackle a problem, so having a backup is a great way to reduce anxiety about possible failure.

      7. Learn From Whatever Happens

      Things may not go the way you planned, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Learn from whatever arises.[10] Even a less than ideal situation can be a great opportunity to make changes and grow.

      “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

      Dig deep enough, and you’re bound to find the silver lining. When you’ve learned that “failure” is an opportunity for growth instead of a death sentence, you conquer the fear of failure.

      For more tips on how to overcome fear of failure, check out the video below:

      Final Thoughts

      To overcome fear of failure, we can start by figuring out where it comes from and reframing the way we feel about failure. When failure is a chance for growth, and you’ve looked at all possible outcomes, it’s easier to overcome fear.

      Stay positive, have a backup plan, and learn from whatever happens. Your failures will be sources of education and inspiration rather than humiliation.

      “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison

      Failures can be blessings in disguise. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams and long-term goals.

      More Tips for Conquering Fear

      Featured photo credit: Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

      Reference

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