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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 Resilience Mastery Coach & Dance Movement Medicine Therapist

13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience 5 Steps to Bounce Back Fast When Life Knocks You Down 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion How to Find Yourself When You’re Lost in Life How to Overcome Fear and Realize Your Potential (The Ultimate Guide)

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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