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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

CEO of Resilience Junkie | Women's Resilience Mastery Coach

How to Overcome Fear and Realize Your Potential (The Ultimate Guide) What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important? How Successful Women Shake Up and Redefine the Workplace 5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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