"I have lots of things to prove to myself. One is that I can live my life fearlessly." -Oprah Winfrey.
Note: This is the second post in a four post series on overcoming fear and building confidence. These posts will be once per week, and have Challenges (exercises) to help you use the information. You can find the first post here: Overcoming Fear Series – Part 1: What is Fear?
As you might recall from the first week, fear is a mental, or thought process. There is a physiological component that we feel when we are afraid, but data has to be interpreted by the brain to determine if there is reason for a fear response. For example, being 5 feet away from a lion in the wild may be cause for alarm. Being 5 feet away behind glass at the zoo, probably not.
Because our minds work this way, we can use our minds to change our fear responses. To do that, we first need to understand what our fears are and why we want to change them. That is what this week is about.
Just defining our fear, and defining a life without fear may not seem like a technique to overcome it, but it is a crucial one. We have to call our fear out, but also identify what we are missing out on. Bringing our fear into the light is empowering, and the first step towards change.
In this Part, we will begin to do exercises. These posts are more about taking action towards overcoming a fear or limiting belief, and reading just won’t be as effective. I could expand on each of these much more than I do here, but ultimately it comes down to doing.
Defining Our Fear
The first task to undertake is to start by defining, in detail, what our fear is. A key point to remember is that we may know what our fear is, but not necessarily know WHY we have this fear. Understanding the source, or why, is in the next post.
For now, we will start at a fairly basic level to get started. We want to detail what our fear is and how it is impacting us. Naming our fear is the first step in taking back control
Fear is a perception in the mind. It has developed based on our external conditioning, our own experiences, and the filter we apply to an event or concept, that gets imprinted in our brains.
This process is going to require you to write, and not just read. Through the process of examining and writing, you will begin to gain insight and clarity on what your fear is and what it represents to you.
Some of your more poignant thoughts are probably dominating your thought processes, blocking the more subtle thoughts you have. As you get the more dominant thoughts out on the page, the more nuanced will come to the fore. They may even be more significant, but have been hidden or repressed, and we need to get to them in order to have ultimate control of your fear.
I will list several questions with examples to consider when answering. Don’t just limit your responses to the points or questions I pose. Include any and all thoughts that come to mind for each question. Don’t judge, re-write or edit. Brainstorm and get your thoughts out in writing.
- What is your fear?
- How does this fear make you feel?
- How is this fear impacting your life?
- What is the absolute worst-case scenario if your fear came true?
These questions are only a start. Feel free to write anything related to your fear that comes to mind. Make your mind sweat a bit. If the thoughts are coming easy, take more time until you have everything out on the page.
We will use this information later as we delve deeper into the process.
Defining Our Dreams
I use the word ‘dreams’ here, but it could be substituted for passion, purpose, or core values. This is where we define why we want to overcome fear. Knowing where we are is important, but also where we want to get to. This will give us energy and empower us to get through the fear.
Do you have vision in your mind of how you would like your life to be? Do you daydream about it? Do you have a bucket-list of things you must do, or places you must see before you die?
Do you wish to have more money, more time for your children, more opportunity to volunteer or a hobby you would like to pursue?
Here we will define what it is that makes you tick. By going through this exercise, we will explore what is most important to you and what would really make your life spectacular.
Your mind will pursue whatever thought it is presented with. For example, don’t think of your left foot. I can almost guarantee that everyone who just read that, thought about their left foot.
If you spend your mental energy thinking about fear, your mind will be really effective at thinking of all the angles, all the consequences, all the reasons it is legitimate. If it is negative, it will find ways to justify being negative.
This is a powerful concept. If you think and focus on what is positive, it will be equally productive at finding ways to be positive and to make those things happen. This is what we are doing here.
Defining what we want will imprint a goal in our minds that our brain can work on, both consciously and unconsciously. Getting clear will help us not only stay motivated, but begin to see the steps it will take to make it a reality.
As you go through this exercise, think BIG. I mean HUGE. Nothing should be allowed to limit your dreams. Assume for this exercise that anything you need to make them happen, you have. If you need money, knowledge, experience, time, talent etc., don’t let those hinder your responses.
It is critical that you are open to dream, just as you needed to be honest when defining your fears. Why start off pursuing your dreams, only to have the ideal be conditional? Don’t try to argue the point by saying it’s not realistic or that you don’t deserve it.
Your dreams are yours. Have BOLD ones!
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What Do You Want in Life?
- What are you passionate about?
- What would your daily life, work and relationships look like without fear?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Why are these things important to you?
- What are your core values?
- What do you want to do, but are being held back by fear?
Again, as in defining your fear, these are just questions to get you started. Write as much as you can, freely and without judgement.
Getting clear here is like putting a photo of a beach on the refrigerator. It’s a reminder of what it is you are working towards.
In fact, regardless of whether you are aware of fear or not, this process is exceedingly beneficial in general. It will serve to clarify not only what you want, but also highlight where you are in relation to it. Are you close to your dreams, or are you a long way off.
Motivation that comes through purpose can provide a lot of energy to keep the momentum going in the right direction. That direction should be a better life, no matter where you are!
Putting it All Together
Part 1 defined what fear is in general and why we are going through this process. In Part 2 today, we have both defined what our fear is, and defined what life we want to have.
Hopefully you have done both of these in great detail. I will state again, fear is a limiting belief. This process can be used to overcome any limiting belief, not just that of fear.
Along with Part 3 and Part 4, there will be a total process that can be used anytime you need it. Don’t worry at this stage if you have a lot of questions. We will go even deeper next week and deeper still two weeks from now.
By the time we are done, you will have a complete blueprint, whereas now, we only have a piece of it. Keep strong, stay motivated and check back next week for Part 3, where we will look at how we think and how we can change our thinking, even re-defining prior memories.
For now, do these exercises and I’ll see you next week.
Since we have exercises already as part of the post, I won’t add my typical Challenge today. However, if you feel alone, or feel like you are doing this in a vacuum, please leave comments. I will respond, clarifying anything that may be unclear and generally being supportive. Others can add their value as well.
Nothing can be achieved without action - Bold action leads to a richer life.