When you think of fear, you might think of spiders or heights or the dark. Many things come to mind, but not normally the things that determine the quality of life you lead. The connections you have or don’t. The success you have or don’t. The foods you eat or don’t. The choices you make day in and day out—or don’t.
So, what do spiders, heights and the dark have to do with Your Best Life? Nothing. And that’s the point. Your real fears are often hidden behind your everyday traits. Anger, comparison, hesitancy, complacency, control, procrastination. All signs of fear. These character traits simply hide your fears.
How Your Fears Keep You From Living Your Best Life
Fears limit you from living your best life. If you want deep connections with the people around you, yet you fear missing out on something “better,” you’ll also miss out on the time and bonding with the very people with whom you want to develop the deeper connections.
If you are afraid of failure or judgement and so you put off the new eating habits, or movement routine, or starting that new business, then guess what? You fail anyway at your own goal—simply because you were afraid of failing and did not start.
If what you fear is rejection and thus you avoid a conversation or react with anger to cover it up, you will feel that very rejection you feared.
“When you act out of fear, you bring more of what you fear to you.”
Identifying the Fear Behind Your Actions (or in-actions)
The first step to identifying your fear is awareness. You must be willing to look at your actions, responses, reactions, decisions, or in-decisions with an assumption. Go ahead and assume there is a fear underneath. This keeps you open to discovering it.
Take a week and make note of every time you react, respond, act or do not act. At each one, take a moment and ask yourself, “was that my absolute truth? And, what am I actually afraid of here?”
You may have to ask a few times. You may experience some resistance—if you have already planned to be open to exploration. Dig a little deeper with each ask. Most importantly, let the answers flow. These are answers between you and yourself. Seek the truth. The truth is there if you will look for it and allow it to surface.
In most cases, you already know the truth. You simply do not admit the truth in public or to yourself. Instead you give or make an “excuse.” An excuse is only a lie to yourself and the people around you. The people around you likely already know it’s a lie (and so do you). Even worse, it hinders your best life from flowing to you. You are inadvertently bringing more of what you fear to yourself. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For the best results, plan ahead to keep either a small notepad with you for a week or have a page already dedicated inside your “note” app of choice on your phone. Then, when these moments occur, write down the situation and your answer.
Was it a response, reaction, indecision, procrastination? And, then, what were you afraid of that lead to that result? Were you afraid of missing out on something else? Were you afraid of judgment, failure or rejection? And, what did you gain (and ultimately lose) by leading with fear in that situation?
How to Push Through the Fear & What You’ll Gain
Once you’ve identified your fears and understand what they are keeping from you, you can then work to replace those fears with other thoughts and actions.
The first question is what would you gain by resolving this fear? What would you gain in life by releasing that fear? What is it that you really want? Instead of the fear, what do you really want? Is it a connected relationship, a healthy body, more energy, more interest in life, adventure? What is for you that you really want? Dig deeper and keep asking “why” to get to the bottom of what you really want. It will likely land on a feeling.
Once you have identified what you actually want, think about the person you would be if you already embodied it. What does she/he look like, feel like? What would they do on a daily basis? How would they respond in that very situation? If you had already achieved what you were afraid of is holding you back from, how would you act in that situation?
If you want to thrive in this life—live the life of your dreams, your best life—you have to take charge. It is your life and only you can make it happen. The first step is knowing what you actually want. The next is being aware of what’s actually holding you back. And the answer is never someone or something else.
Identify your fears and release them. Then, say what you mean and mean what you say.