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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

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

More Time Management Techniques

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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