Advertising
Advertising

Living Scared

Living Scared

Sometimes the answers to our problems are not nearly as complex or elusive as many of us seem to believe they are. Or as difficult as some of us make them. Sometimes our problems only exist in our head. Sometimes the journey from where we are to where we’d like to be is not nearly as terrifying as we imagine it is. In fact, it’s often kind of exhilarating and liberating.

Living Scared

Prison

That’s right; some of us make life hard. Our inability to make certain decisions or do certain things keeps us trapped in a reality that we don’t enjoy. Hate, in fact. And standing at the door of our self-created prison is a gate-keeper who only exists in our mind; fear. While other people can walk in and out of our prison (reality) at will, fear has kept some of us from freedom for far too long – telling us what to do, and what not to do, for as long as we can remember. Influencing, if not controlling virtually every area of our lives. For years we’ve been fearful of getting hurt in some way, fearful of getting fat, or being unloved, unwanted, poor, humiliated, of upsetting people or being discovered for the fraud we believe we are. And we’re petrified of being alone. We’ve lived so much of our life negatively, simply doing our best to avoid the ‘bad stuff’ and to survive, that somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost, or maybe never even really found, us; the us we still want to be, the us we could be and the us we’ve dreamed about since we were five.

It’s okay, you’re still in there.

Sometimes the seemingly insurmountable gap between our current reality and our own version of amazing (prison and freedom) is much smaller than we think. Much, much smaller. A mere step away in fact. With the only challenge being that sometimes the step we need to take is a doozy; the ‘no safety net’ step. And we love safety nets – that’s a big part of the problem.

Fear is a jealous gate-keeper and he wants you staying put in your make-believe prison. That’s how he operates. He doesn’t want you to see what’s out there, what’s possible for you. He can’t keep you in there but only he knows that. He’s been holding a pair of threes while you’ve had four aces in your hand for years, but he’s bluffed you every time. Stared you down, made you believe something that wasn’t true – that what you have in your hand isn’t good enough. Well listen up…

Advertising

It is good enough. You are good enough.

Hide

This is not feel-good, positive thinking mumbo jumbo, its reality. But you need to make it YOUR reality. Fear doesn’t want you making decisions, taking chances or exploring your potential because that’s where he loses his power. He doesn’t want you hanging out with those ‘positive thinking’ types and he certainly doesn’t want you paying too much attention to articles like this one.

Healthy and unhealthy fear

Of course there’s a time to fear. If someone is pointing a gun at you and you are fearful, then that makes you normal, not gutless. We would call that healthy fear. But that’s not what we’re talking about today. Today we’re talking about the unhealthy, destructive and often irrational fear that controls and ruins lives.

Fearful creatures

People often ask me what I believe stops so many of us from fulfilling our potential and from creating our best life. In truth, there are many things on the list of likely obstacles: procrastination, laziness, ignorance, indifference, ego and a bunch of other stuff, but without doubt, at the top of most lists, is fear.

It’s true; we humans are fearful creatures. On some level we all operate on fear from time to time, and to a point, that’s understandable. Wise even. But beyond a point, it’s stupid. Destructive even. It’s about knowing where that line in the sand should be and staying on the right side. A little fear – good. A life controlled by fear – bad. Painful.

Advertising

Far too many of our significant ‘life decisions’ come out of our fearful mindset, and as a consequence, many of us live a life of compromise, under-achievement and imprisonment. And repetition. And repetition. It’s like some of us are Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. And repetition. All of our days are just like the ones before. And sadly for some, tomorrow will be the same too. Because that’s what we do; the same – even though we desperately want different. The journey between where we are and where we want to be scares the crap out of us so we stay put. In Samesville. A.K.A. prison.

“I don’t really like my life right now, but at least there’s a level of familiarity and predictability about it. I know what’s coming each day and in a way, I’m comfortable with that. It doesn’t particularly fulfill me but it doesn’t terrify me either. So if it’s okay with you, I’ll stay here in a holding pattern for forty or fifty years and then I’ll die, just like dear old Dad did. There won’t be a whole lot of joy or fun, but at least I know what to expect each day.”

Tug War

We love certainty (a dangerous thing to love in a uncertain world), we’re addicted to safety, we seek familiarity and we want risk-free (good luck with that). Ironically certainty, safety, familiarity and risk-free… is not where we grow, learn, adapt, change or improve. Or find our best life. In fact, quite often the things that we gravitate towards are our biggest handicap.

I have spent a lifetime watching people complicate the simple, avoid the obvious and not do the very things they should or could have done, long ago. Some people have been almost creating their best life for far too long. Some people have been standing at the threshold of greatness for years, twiddling their thumbs, wasting their time and talent and hoping in vain that success might somehow find it’s way to them. An interesting, if not totally unrealistic notion.

Advertising

Some people have been in situations or circumstances that they really don’t want to be in, for years. Decades even. This is because they associate more discomfort / pain with getting out of their current reality, than staying in it. So they stay. Miserable and scared.

Some Personal Development Junkies are masters of this. Just one more workshop, one more conversation, one more mentoring session, one more self-help book and just one more day and then I’ll do it. Okay, maybe two more days. Sadly, they don’t understand that what they really need is not more time, books, workshops or more motivational fluff, what they really need is some balls. Excuse my honesty but some people are highly educated, very capable, extremely talented and gutless. I’ve met many of them. Give me someone with less talent, less opportunities, more adversity and some genuine courage, and I’ll show you how to get some real results.

I know this is not a message that’s often taught in personal development circles but I believe that’s a big mistake. I believe it should be shouted from the roof tops. We like to gravitate towards the feel-good (but mostly useless and disempowering) psycho-babble crap. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy for ten minutes but results in no long term positive change. Of course I believe there is a time for listening, for handing holding, for back rubbing, for hugging and for loving support and encouragement. The problem is, some people have had all of that for years and they’re STILL in the same place and still doing the same destructive things. Sometimes more therapy ain’t the answer. I know that’s not a popular thing to say but it’s true. There’s a time when some people need to suck it up, to stop looking for pity, to stop being a victim and start taking control of their own life. Simple.

Courage

Prison Door

So often we are taught that creating our best life is about talent, opportunities, planning, goal setting, vision, passion, discipline and a bunch of other stuff. And to an extent it is; it’s about all of those things. But there’s one non-negotiable ingredient that doesn’t get the attention it should; courage. Our ability to do what we need to do, despite the fear. If we have all of the ingredients but no courage, we’ll never get there. Wherever there is for us.

Advertising

Fear and all it’s implications in the lives of us mere mortals is something which has fascinated me for years. I have watched it ruin many friendships, careers, businesses, marriages and lives. I have seen it destroy individuals. Like most emotions, on some level, we create it. It’s very personal and individual. It’s a personal response to, or interpretation of, an event, situation or circumstance.

I’ve also watched many people stare-down and overcome their fears and enjoy a life of happiness, joy and exhilaration that only comes with true freedom. I’ve seen brave people turn their lives around after years of frustration and sadness. And I’ve seen ordinary people do incredible things because they chose to walk out of that prison cell. Once and for all.

Remember…

On the other side of fear is freedom.

Enjoy your liberty my friend.
You deserve it and you’re worth it.

More by this author

Craig Harper

Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics How to Stop Being an Over-Thinker

Trending in Lifestyle

1 How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries 2 18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life 3 10 Easy At-Home Leg Toning Workouts for Women 4 10 Best Wireless Headphones For Running 5 9 Best Blood Pressure Monitors You Can Use at Home

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

  • “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.

Advertising

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

Read Next