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Last Updated on May 10, 2019

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?

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Klok via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Women's Transformational Coach & Dance Movement Therapist

What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important? How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person What Motivates You to Succeed in Life? 5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength How to Stop Feeling Guilty and Free Your Mind

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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