Some days it feels like the battle with our fears is never ending. And in a way, it won’t ever end.
By Cynthia C Hakutangwi
When you place a high value on self-improvement, you’re constantly pushing further and breaking down new barriers.
But every time we cross a new frontier, there are new challenges that come with it. Fear is one of the challenges that accompanies growth. The goal then is not to become fearless but to know how to deal with fear when it rears its ugly head.
It is important to know the difference between a healthy fear of danger (which prevents us from damaging ourselves) and a fear of new, positive opportunities.
The trick is recognising the difference. Ninety-nine percent of the time, our fears are the result of being on the edge of our comfort zone. Chronic fear, however, is always a symptom of a deeper rooted issue. The only way to resolve the issue is to get to the underlying cause.
Is it a fear of not being good enough? The fear of not having enough? The fear of what others think? The fear of losing everything?
What are the reasons for fear?
There are a couple of reasons why so many people are afraid of change including:
lAgonising over certain decisions because you feel isolated.
lClinging to those perks, possessions and statuses that you have acquired along the way.
lDoubting yourself and feeling that you are not up to the challenge of making changes.
lFear of the unknown and being reluctant to take any chances.
lFocusing too much on the external world around you instead of yourself.
lOverlooking the fact that there are always options available.
It is important to remember that you never have to settle for what transpires when making changes in your personal and professional life.
When you have enough confidence to act in the face of your fears about change, it gives you a sense of control. Ultimately, it will provide you with a purpose in life.
When you get rid of your self-limiting beliefs you will do things you never thought possible. You will be bold and fearless. You will find passion in life and seize every opportunity.
Dealing with self-limiting beliefs
To kill limiting beliefs, you can’t just cut the surface thinking. You have to get at the root cause. This does not necessarily mean you need years of therapy.
You don’t have to explore every dimension of your tortured childhood or your ruinous relationships. You need to isolate one limiting belief at a time. Start with one that really interferes with your growth. What is your biggest fear?
You don’t feel good enough? You don’t make enough money? You feel you are not smart enough? Or that you are not good-looking enough? Perhaps that you are not lovable? Ask yourself why you have this limiting belief. This is a question you should ask until you run out of answers.
Write down every reason you can think of, starting with the main one that probably occurred when you were younger. Write these reasons down so you don’t forget them. Finally, start undermining these reasons with evidence to the contrary.
You might feel a certain way about yourself, but that does not make it true. And even if there were truth in the original belief and feelings, you have lived a lot of life since then. There are hundreds of reasons why you are smart, lovable, attractive, etc.
Write those down too. By doing these steps, you have just sprayed poison on the root of your limiting belief. And you can do this exercise for all of your beliefs. But that is not all. You can’t stop there. You have to reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. You have to re-train your brain and create new grooves in your brain with a new way of thinking.
Developing the muscle of courage
It is difficult to conquer your fears if you’re unable to be honest with yourself in the first place about what exactly those fears are. Research has found that acting courageously requires an understanding of one’s own anxieties and limitations.
Denial of fear does not support courageous action, or better still, choosing to work through them. Living in an authentic manner — meaning acknowledging and appropriately expressing one’s actual feelings, thoughts, and desires — requires acknowledging one’s fear and risks and moving forward anyway when the cause merits action.
To build a courageous character, the muscle of courage must be continually strengthened. Aristotle, the ancient philosopher who focused most on courage, said that we develop courage by performing courageous acts. Recent psychological research also suggests that courage is an ethical habit that we develop by repeatedly practising acts of bravery, according to psychologist Ben Dean.
Are you at the edge of your comfort zone?
Once you have the root of your issue, it’s easier for you to see how the fears themselves are a symptom of a greater problem.
When we don’t take the time to look for the underlying issue, we become bombarded by our fears and have no real way of resolving them. Once you have uncovered the root causes of your anxiety/fear, it’s up to you to resolve it. What can you do to directly affect the root cause of your fear?
This is a great time to use a journal or talk to a friend about how you can resolve the root issue. You can also speak to your mentor or coach about issues that you need help resolving.
l Cynthia Hakutangwi is a communications and personal development consultant, life coach, author and strategist.
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