If you had to pick between being fearful and being fearless, which would best describe you?
If you’re one to hold back on decisions or avoid taking certain risks because of fear, are you content with your choices–or, do you feel restricted, and perhaps even have some sort of regret for not having been more bold about your decisions?
Fear is a scary emotion that can sometimes cripple us and hold us back from unleashing our true potential in life. Whether we like it or not, there’s always some form of fear in us.
I used to have fears holding me back, such as fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, and especially a fear of change. I didn’t like uncertainty, which is why I was so resistant to change.
But, over the years, as I learned the value of fear and how it can drive me towards fulfilling a greater purpose, fear itself became a lot less scary.
Why We Fear the Unknown
So why do we fear?
It’s pretty much in our nature to be afraid of the unknown. Consider the simple and common childhood fear of the dark. We’re afraid because we don’t know what’s in front of us.
This doesn’t change much as we find ourselves in adulthood fearing change and taking risks. If we don’t know what’s in front of us, it is hard to feel comfortable with the idea of moving forward.
Research by psychologists suggests that we generally prefer to anticipate consequences,((JNeurosci: Effort and Valuation in the Brain: The Effects of Anticipation and Execution)) which makes sense as it allows us to both mentally and physically prepare for the outcome, so we’re not caught off guard.
There are many layers of emotions that are associated with your fear of the unknown; and, overcoming this fear requires you to dig deep to find the courage to actually step into the unknown.
Boost Your Self Confidence
Before you can start to face your fears, it’s critical to understand yourself, your limits, and your capabilities, so that you can be the best version of you when you set off to overcome your obstacles.
Low self-esteem can affect how a person views the world. The world can appear as a hostile place and even create a victim mentality. People with low self esteem often miss out on experiences and opportunities and feel powerless to changing the outcome of their circumstances; this even further decreases their self esteem, and creates a vicious cycle.
Fortunately, whether you have healthy self esteem or not, there are many active ways to boost your self confidence and reap the benefits of said confidence boost.
Self-esteem issues are found in the gap between who you presently are, and who you think you should be. Paradoxically, most causes of low self-esteem stem from how others see or treat you; yet, the solution to increasing your self-esteem is something that needs to come from the inside out, not from the outside in.
Building your self-esteem is not an easy task, but it can be done with the right strategies and encouragement. So, if you’d like to find out more about ways to boost up your confidence, I’ll recommend you check out this article:
How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)
If the main reason we’re fearful is because we don’t know what’s going to happen, then we simply need to know!
It’s important to establish a purpose so we can better understand where we’re going, which will help eliminate the unknown and help us familiarize ourselves with what to expect.
Do you know what your purpose is?
If we have a sense of purpose in how we are productive– if we seek a calling–then we will find our contribution to humanity and we will find more to life.
Research shows that having a purpose in life increases overall well-being, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency and self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression.((Neuron: The Future of Memory: Remembering, Imagining, and the Brain))
So, it should be noted that to be happy in life isn’t always enough, because happiness is a surge of emotions that does not last. Instead, it’s more important to find and have meaning in life.
Meaning is not only about transcending the self but also about transcending the present moment. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive effects and feelings of pleasure are fleeting.
Meaning is what will guide you steadily through your life’s journey; if you have meaning, you’ll be better equipped to face the ups and downs.
When you’re able to find meaning and a purpose for what you’re doing, the fears you had before will start to disappear because you actually know where or what it is that you’re going after.
Use the Power of Visualization
Another lesser known, but very powerful, tool to help you overcome your fears is the technique of visualization.
Noted as a form of mental rehearsal, visualization has been popular since the Soviets started using it back in the 1970s to compete in sports. Now, many athletes employ this technique, including Tiger Woods who has been using it since his pre-teen years.
Seasoned athletes use vivid, highly detailed internal images and run-throughs of entire performances, engaging all their senses in their mental rehearsal and combining their knowledge of the sports venue with mental rehearsal.
Even heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali, used different mental practices to enhance his performance in the ring such as: affirmation; visualization; mental rehearsal; self-confirmation; and perhaps the most powerful epigram of personal worth ever uttered: “I am the greatest”.
Brain studies now reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. So the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization.
It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and increase states of flow – all relevant to achieving your best life!
Australian psychologist Alan Richardson found that a person who consistently visualizes a certain physical skill develops “muscle memory” which then is helpful to him when he actually engages in the activity. This shows that the correlation between visualization and attaining one’s goals that should not be taken lightly!((Llewellyn: Sports Visualizations))
Conquer Your Fear and Reach Your Goals
At the end of the day, what have you to lose?
Why let your fears get the better of you, when it is fully within your means to overcome them?
Remember, we all have our fears, and go through different degrees of failure in life because that’s how we know we’re growing and moving forward for the better in life.
So, if there are certain fears holding you back from progressing ahead, it’s time to take an active step to understanding them, and overcoming them.
Read more: lifehack.org