Fear is the single biggest thing that holds people back from achieving their goals and dreams. It’s one of most common reasons why people procrastinate on taking action toward their goals.
We fear failure, loss or rejection. We feel fear of being embarrassed, of being disappointed of getting hurt, or fear angering other people. So we play it safe and avoid taking risks or trying new things.
That’s why today, I want to discuss how you can overcome those fears that are holding you back from greatness.
Where Does Fear Come From?
Fear is natural. It comes from us – from our own minds and imagination.
It’s important to remember that, as humans, we’ve evolved to the stage where almost all of our fears holding us back are now self-created.
We scare ourselves by imagining negative things are going to happen in the future. But just because we imagine these things happening, that doesn’t mean they WILL happen, or that they will be as painful as we think.
That’s why psychologists like to say that fear stands for ‘Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real.’ Because fear is all about what we think or imagine MIGHT happen – not what WILL happen.
The good news is, since our thoughts and our images are the root source of the fears that are holding you back, that means we have the power to overcome them by changing our thoughts and our images.
Instead of allowing ourselves to imagine a worst-case scenario and therefore be a victim of the fears that are holding us back, we can take control of our own minds and consciously decide to think positive thoughts and visualize a best-case scenario instead of a catastrophic one.
Gaining Control of the Fears Holding You Back
Here’s a simple exercise to help you gain more control over your fears that are holding you back – and show you how unfounded they really are.
1. Make a List of the Fears That Are Holding You Back
First, make a list of the things you are afraid to do. These are not things you are afraid of, such as spiders or snakes, but instead the things you are afraid to do, such as picking up a spider or a snake, or skydiving, dancing, singing in public, or scuba diving.
So your list might include things such as: leaving my job, going back to school, talking to my partner about our relationship, asking for a raise, investing in the stock market, buying a house, getting married, having children, starting a business, and so on.
2. Restate the Fears That Are Holding You Back
Restate each fear in the following format: I want to [blank], and I scare myself by imagining [blank].
- I want to start my own business, and I scare myself by imagining that I would go bankrupt and lose my house.
- I want to talk to my husband about our relationship, and I scare myself by imagining that if he knew how I really felt and what I really wanted, he would leave me.
- I really want to have children, and I scare myself by imagining that I will feel totally trapped and never have any time to do the things that I want to do.
By completing this statement for all of the things we are afraid to do, you can see how you are the one creating fears that are holding you back by imagining negative outcomes in the future.
3. Make the Fears That Are Holding You Back Positive
Now let’s take more control over those fears that are holding you back. I want you to take the last part of that statement – the fearful outcome you imagined – and transform it into something positive.
- “Instead of I scare myself by imagining that I will go bankrupt and lose my house, I empower myself by imagining I will work hard and do whatever it takes to make my business a success.”
- “Instead of I scare myself by imagining that my husband will leave me, I empower myself by imagining he will hear me and commit to working together to cultivate greater love and intimacy in our relationship.”
Do you see how each of these statements flips the fear on its head and transforms it into a powerful positive vision?
I encourage you to try this for yourself – and transform all of your fears into empowering visions of success!
Moving Past the Fears That Are Holding You Back
After you complete this exercise, you will be able to transform your fear into power. Here are seven other strategies to help you move past any fears that might pop up faster.
1. Become Aware of Your Thoughts
Thoughts produce emotions – so if you want to change how you feel, change your thoughts.
Whenever you feel fear, retrace your mental steps and observe what you were thinking or what you were picturing in your mind.
What thoughts led to your feelings of fear? Once you identify them, it will be easier to resolve them.
2. Choose Positive Thoughts
It’s challenging to rid yourself of negative thoughts simply by not thinking them.
The Law of Replacement dictates that you “can’t replace something with nothing – you have to replace it with something else.” Otherwise you create a mental vacuum that will suck the old thought back in.
When you notice yourself experiencing a negative, fear-producing thought, replace it with a positive thought instead – like I did in the exercise I just showed you.
For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, be on the lookout for thoughts like “What if publishers reject my manuscript?” Instead, think the thought, “Publishers are going to love my manuscript,” and visualize a publisher accepting your manuscript and agreeing to publish and market your book.
You can even go so far as to visualize a bookstore with huge stacks of your book in the window, and people lined up to get you to autograph your book.
3. Notice Your Surroundings
Notice the physical sensations you experience when you think a fearful thought.
You may feel fear as a sinking feeling in your stomach, a tightening in your shoulders and chest, or an elevated heart rate. Notice what you feel, and then consciously replace those physical sensations with sensations you’d rather be experiencing.
Focus on positive emotions, such as peace and joy, and notice what shows up your body – perhaps a rush of warmth in your chest and stomach, a smile on your face, or a tingle of delight running up your back.
Imagine yourself experiencing those sensations instead, and the fears that are holding you back will start to neutralize.
4. Use Affirmations
Affirmations are powerful statements that describe the reality you want to create – and they are a powerful antidote to fear.
Here’s how they work: imagine the reality you would like to create, and then form a positive statement that describes it as already having been achieved. Start your affirmation with the words “I am so happy and grateful that…”
For example: “I am so happy and grateful now that I am a New York Times bestselling author.”
By stating it as already being achieved, you create a tension between what you are saying and what your mind knows to be true.
Your subconscious doesn’t like this tension and will begin to work overtime to resolve it, prompting you to both become more aware of resources and opportunities that will help you achieve your goal, and to take more action.
As you practice your daily affirmations, you may find yourself thinking, “What if this doesn’t work?” If that happens, I encourage you to change the question to:
- “What if this does work?”
- “Why will this work?”
- “How will this work?”
You could also create an affirmation that says, “I am so happy and grateful that all my affirmations are working.“
By shifting your thoughts to focus more on action and solutions, you will find it easier to maintain your forward momentum.
5. Charge Your Visualizations
Powerful positive emotions can actually charge your visualizations.
For example, take the affirmation, “I am so happy and grateful now that I am a New York Times bestselling author.”
When you take a moment to feel the feeling you would be feeling when you had actually achieved that goal, such as happiness, joy, relief or gratitude, you strengthen the power of that affirmation and visualization.
You want to pretend like you are an actor and just create that feeling in your emotions and your body. And just as the emotion of fear can paralyze you, intense positive emotions can motivate you and accelerate your journey toward greater success.
6. Be Realistic About Risk
A practical, and often overlooked, strategy for overcoming fear is to make sure you’re not risking more than you can afford to lose.
To grow and achieve greater success, you have to risk something. Just make sure that you can bear the loss if you don’t succeed the first time.
My advice is to begin by taking on smaller challenges and work your way up to the larger ones.
- If you want to start your business but you need a guaranteed income each month to pay your mortgage and stay out of debt, maybe run your business as a side gig until you have enough clients or sales to quit your job for good.
- If you’re starting your first job in sales, start by calling on prospects or customers who will be the easiest to sell to.
- If you’re eager to take on new responsibilities at work, start by asking to do parts of a project you’re interested in.
- If you want to run a marathon, start slowly with a simple “couch to 5K” running app.
Master the skills you need to learn, move through your fears, and then take on bigger challenges.
7. Celebrate Your Successes
You’ve overcome countless fears to become the person you are today, whether it was learning to ride a bike, driving a car, or kissing someone you liked for the first time.
Taking risks and opening yourself to new experiences is always a little scary. But when you face your fears and take action anyway, you build up confidence in your abilities.
The situation you’re facing now and how your fear is manifesting may be different than what you’ve experienced in the past, but you already know how to overcome your fears. You’ve spent a lifetime doing it!
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
So I encourage you to follow Emerson’s advice and do the thing you fear.
It is the best possible way to grow as a person and achieve more success in life. Every successful person I know has been willing to take a leap of faith even though they were afraid. Because they knew that if they didn’t act, the opportunity would pass them by.
Consider using use EFT Tapping to eliminate fears.
I have had students and clients totally disappear a fear in less than 5 minutes of tapping. I encourage you to get a copy of my book “Tapping into Ultimate Success” to learn how to tap your away fears that are holding you back.
Fear is a Mental Trick
In summary, recognize fear for what it is: a mental trick your ego uses to protect you from the negative outcomes it imagines might occur if you did what you want to do.
You are the one creating your fear and you have the power to dissolve and replace it as well. Use the techniques I have just shared with you to overcome this emotional roadblock, so you can turn your dreams into reality and live the life you truly desire.
Remember, no one achieves greatness by playing it safe!
If you found this blog helpful, make sure you like it and share it with a friend who may need it. And for some additional resources on facing your fears, be sure to visit my website at jackcanfield.com.
Thank you for reading! And remember, nothing in your life will change for the better until you do.
As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Jack speaks around the world on this subject. Check out his newest book The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!
Image courtesy of Jonathan Sebastiao.