“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
I think maybe I’m writing this for myself as a reminder but I know many of you do the same thing I do. We worry and overthink. We get caught in these mind traps and it keeps us from doing anything. We let fear rule our thoughts.
I’ll admit I have a lot of fears. I fear I won’t ever publish my book because I also fear it will bomb, and that will stop me from continuing to write. It will halt my dream of becoming an author, and then I might have to go back to working a job I loathe. It’s a never-ending loop of fear, and that fear stops me from being productive and working on the book at all.
However, I don’t know what will happen. I’ve never trained in the art of determining the future and therefore I can’t predict whether my fear will manifest into reality. But this is one of the thinking traps I get caught in and I always end up believing the outcome will be negative.
The truth is, though, I have no evidence to support that belief. I’m jumping to conclusions about what MAY happen, not what is likely to happen. It’s called fortune telling, and it is one of the many cognitive distortions our thoughts will lead us to. It makes me focus on the negative instead of just doing the work and finding out the truth.
I’m predicting that my book will be horrible and that gives me an excuse to not deal with the difficulty of actually writing it. It affects my behavior and I see it as fact instead of illogical thought.
Yet, the only way I can find what the truth will be is to face my fear.
But let’s say my fear of the book turning out to be horrible comes true. What happens then? Do I become worthless and never write again? Am I never going to be happy or can I never try to write another book? Is that the end of my writing dream?
If my fear came true, nothing would change. I would be disappointed, and it would upset me but I would get over it and life would continue. I could try again and again. I could learn from that original fear and the process and do it better the second time.
But what’s happening with that fear is I’m letting it control me and whether I even publish it at all. The reality is I have some control over whether my book does well. However, I have to put in the work, and I have to stop letting fear control me. Because I also have control over that fear.
So do you.
Look at what you are fearing and ask yourself what would happen if it came true? I’m not talking about things we can’t control like the loss of a loved one or being laid-off, I’m talking about your fear of not being enough, and of not achieving what you want. Of being afraid of failing.
What would happen?
I’ll tell you like I’m trying to tell myself — you would go on and you would be fine. You would be better for the experience and you could use what you learned to overcome that fear the next time.
If we looked at everything objectively, most of the things we fear never happen and hardly any of the things we worry about come true. So I will stop letting that fear determine what could happen and decide on my own what will happen. And I will stop worrying and start living.
I will make fear my friend. And we will get to know each other pretty well.
Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at jeffthewriter.com and jefftherunner.com.
Image courtesy of Marcos Rivas.