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Last Updated on March 12, 2020

How to Overcome Fear and Realize Your Potential (The Ultimate Guide)

How to Overcome Fear and Realize Your Potential (The Ultimate Guide)

Take a moment and imagine what your life would be like if you had no fear… What would you do?

I believe that fear is the single biggest obstacle that holds people back from fulfilling their potential and becoming the best version of themselves.

Fear doesn’t feel good, but it’s a basic human condition. We all have fears, myself included. You aren’t alone…

Fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of success, fear of not being good enough

The question is…where does it come from?

Us.

Neuroscientists claim that humans are the most fearful creatures on the planet because of our ability to learn, think, and create fear in our minds.[1] We scare ourselves by imagining the worst possible outcomes, assuming that we are protecting ourselves from imminent danger.

Think back to a time where you were so fearful of doing something, but once you did it you were like, “That wasn’t so bad. Why did I spend so long worrying about?!”

You make the choice to be a victim of your fears or to push them aside and choose to be courageous.

In this article, we’ll look into the root cause of fear and how we can overcome it to realize our biggest potential.

What Is Fear, Really?

This acronym best reflects what fear is:

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False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear is an emotion, and as such, is not a physical thing. Therefore, fear is not real. Rather, it is just an illusion that is created by your mind.

These imagined scenarios of perceived threat end up feeding your fear to the point where it becomes all-consuming. Here’s the kicker… oftentimes, these scenarios never happen.

In the words of Stephanie Melish,

“Fear is an idea crippling, experience-crushing, success-stalling inhibitor inflicted only by yourself.”

We create the scenario that feeds the fear. We let it control us, and the imagined scenarios we draw up in our minds never actually take place. It never happens.

The real issue is not the fear itself, but rather how we hold it in our minds.

How To Overcome Fear And Realize Your Potential

Overcoming fear may sound easier said than done. When you are in the thick of fear, it’s hard to see a way out. The good news is that, because you are the root cause of your fears, that means that you are also the solution to them. However, none of this will be possible if you aren’t ready to face your fears.

1. Identify Your Fears Through Writing

There are times when I’ve felt afraid, but I didn’t even know why. If you keep your fears inside, you allow your minds to control how you feel. We all know how that turns out! In order to prevent this confusion from happening in the first place, the first step is to identify what your fears are.

What makes you feel afraid?

Instead of just thinking about these things, write them down. When you write down your fears on paper and actually question them, it forces you to analyze why you are afraid. Questions are designed to trigger your fears and bring them to the surface.

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Is this going to be a comfortable process? Absolutely not.

Deep inner work never is! However, if you continue to keep your feelings in the dark, the scarier they will be, and the more disempowered you will become.

Once you identify the experience that you associate with your fears, you become armed with the power to take action to change them. Eventually, your fears become smaller and smaller, and your strength, bigger and bigger.

2. Practice Gratitude

From personal experience, I have learned that you cannot experience fear and gratitude at the same time. They are literally on opposite ends of the continuum of the human experience.

When you are experiencing difficult times in life, it’s easy to drop into fear. Everything feels overwhelming. In that energetic space, it can be hard to stay grounded.

Developing a gratitude practice allows you to not drown in fear. It doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel it, but the blow will be lessened, thereby allowing you to see the brighter side of struggle (yes, this does exist).

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.[2]

Any of you who experience fear know that there is almost always a story attached to whatever it is that you’re fearful of. Regardless of what that story is, the running theme is, “I can’t do something.” Fear loves to hang out with your inner critic and come up with worst-case scenarios about what could happen.

I have found that gratitude helps keep these limiting stories at bay. When you practice gratitude, your brain shifts to what is currently working instead of what isn’t working.

The act of being fearful is a future-oriented process, while gratitude is a present-oriented one. The next time that fear tries to creep its way into your head, replace that disempowering thought with an empowering one. It sounds easier said than done, but it works.

3. Release Control

Are you a control freak? If so, you’re not alone. This is how a lot of people manage their fears, or so they think.

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In actuality, all that they are doing is masking their fears by trying to control everything. If you can relate, it’s time to release control. Trust me when I say that this is a losing battle.

Fear results in controlling behavior and when this behavior doesn’t give us the results we’re seeking (which is usually the case), it further intensifies our fears.

In your attempt to control fear, you actually become a victim of it. This fear and control cycle leaves a lot of people feeling defeated. The reality is that there will always be things that are far beyond your control. That’s just how life works.

The only way that we can move past needing to be in control is to accept that it is not always up to us. While you may be in control of your decisions, you don’t always have control over situations that you are pushed into, nor can you control how others react.

The only thing that you have control over is your inner world and how you choose to respond to your external environment. The next time that you catch yourself trying to control everything, step back and ask yourself what you are afraid of.

Start to get curious about what thoughts are generating your fear. Curiosity and fear cannot co-exist. Once you let go of one, you invite the other in. True freedom comes from fully releasing control. When you are able to do this, you being the process of releasing your fears as well.

4. Recite Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations can be used to combat almost any negative thought pattern. Using them to help challenge your fears can help re-train your brain and have your fears reframed as powerful statements.

Research shows that you can actually train your subconscious mind such that it will help you to attract exactly what you desire in life.[3]

Instead of saying “I am afraid of doing this because I might fail,” look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I have prepared for this. I am ready. I will not fail.” The more you use positive affirmations, the stronger they become. The best way to cancel a negative belief is to develop its positive counterpart.

Commit to making positive affirmations a key component of your morning ritual. By reciting them out loud it’s your way of saying to the Universe, “This is what I want.” It literally takes one thought, repeated over and over again, to set you on the path to transforming your entire life.

Here’re more positive affirmations you should try: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

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5. Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

Living in your comfort zone will get you nowhere in life. In my experience, not doing the things that scare you will only increase the likelihood that your fears will grow and inevitably, take over every decision that you make in life.

Is it really better go get out of your comfort zone? The answer is always yes.

I want to encourage you to do one thing every day that scares you. It can be something small. All that matters is that you take action. Make it a habit to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Nobody likes to do this, but if you want to achieve success, you’ve got to be willing to try.

Putting yourself in new and uncomfortable situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical. Here’s the mind-blower: that unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things.[4]

When you condition yourself to do something every day that scares you, your fear fades away and your courage grows stronger. Think about it…when you face your fears, how can you fear them again? Soon enough, your confidence will skyrocket.

Final Thoughts

The next time that you feel threatened by fear, I encourage you to pull upon one or more of the above strategies. Change your relationship with fear. Instead of letting it knock you down, use it as motivation to grow and achieve more.

Once you recognize that fear is not real, the obstacles that appear to stand in your way will be removed, and you will feel empowered to take massive action.

Fear has two meanings – forget everything and run or face everything and rise. The choice is yours. The face of the matter is that there is nothing or nobody standing in your way of greatness.

Your potential in life is limited by only one factor – you. Are you ready to transform fear into action?

More Tips for Conquering Fear

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Klok via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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