“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Today, I volunteered at a blood drive downtown. One of the women who came in to donate blood was literally crying in fear as I called her into the donor’s room. When I realized just how terrified she was, I told her, “It’s OK, calm down. You don’t have to give blood if you don’t want to.” She looked up at me from the donor chair, cracked a half smile through her tears and said, “I know, but I want to. Fear shouldn’t stop me from doing what’s right.”
Wow! Talk about a wake-up call. Her words immediately forced me to think about all the little fears that have been holding me back. I’m sure you can relate. So lets take a look at nine fears we can start facing today to avoid regret and heartache down the road.
1. Fear of standing out.
Our greatest fear is not that we are not special enough; our greatest fear is that we are too special. It is our brilliance, not our deficiencies that often frighten us most. Sometimes you likely catch yourself asking, “Who am I to think I can do this?” When in fact you should be saying, “Who am I to think I can’t?” Ignore your doubts. Forget about fitting in. Stand out!
Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t save face and then lose your soul in the process. Doing so does not serve the world. There is nothing helpful about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. You are meant to shine in a way only YOU can. You were born to manifest all the unique brilliance inside you. And as you let your light shine bright, you subconsciously give others permission to do the same. As you are liberated from your own fear of standing out, your presence automatically liberates those around you too.
2. Fear of not being good enough yet.
There will NEVER be a perfect time to pursue your dreams and goals. You will never feel 100% ready, because you will never be 100% complete. You’re growing every day. You just have to find faith in yourself right now. Faith means living with uncertainty, feeling your way through life, letting your intuition guide you like a flashlight in the dark.
What if, for today, you choose to believe that you have enough, you are enough, and that you’ve come far enough to be worthy? What if, for today, you choose to believe that you are strong enough, wise enough, kind enough, and loved enough to move forward? What if, as the sun sets on today, you choose to believe that you did a pretty good job? And what if tomorrow morning, you choose to believe it all over again? (Angel and I cover this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. Fear life’s daily storms.
Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes life gets so hard that you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes life is so stressful that all you want to do is curl up and cry. But sometimes life is beautiful. Sometimes life is so amazing that all you want to do is smile. Sometimes you just have to stay positive, and push through the hard times. Why? Because life is worth it. The good times are worth it. YOU are worth it.
Realize that fear is the worst of it; fear is your real enemy. So get up, get out in the stormy weather of the real world, and kick fear as hard as you can right in the teeth. Do so by staring at it dead in the eyes and then walking right through it into the storm. Let the rain kiss your skin. That’s the first step. Because once you’re wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore.
4. Fear of failure.
Life’s toughest struggles are intended to make you better, not bitter. Your struggles with “losing” develop your greatest strengths. Many of the most vital lessons you learn in life you don’t necessarily seek on purpose. Sometimes the wrong choices bring you to the right places. In fact, every time you screw up, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
Failure is not falling down; failure is staying down when you have the choice to get back up. Ultimately, what you need to remember is that you are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself. Your toughest competitor is simply the voices in your head. You can’t fail; you can only learn what you need to know to get up and take the next step.
5. Fear of losing control.
I hate to break it to you, but you can’t control everything in your life no matter how many safeguards you put into place. Life is about finding a balance between what we can and cannot control. You must learn to live comfortably between effort and surrender. Life does not owe you anything; it has already given you everything you need. Freedom is not overcoming what you think stands in your way; it is understanding that what is in your way is part of the way.
Quite simply, the reason you are sometimes miserable and stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to certain things you have no control over. So let go; release the tension and stress. Realize you haven’t lost anything; you were never in control to begin with. See what happens when you loosen your grip, throw your hands into the air, and allow life to just happen and flow as it does, without constant worry and micromanagement. (Read The Power of Now.)
6. Fear of an event in another time and place.
Some people spend their entire lives living in another time and place. They lament about what has been, what they could have done, or what might become. Don’t be one of them. If you live your life with the regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow, you’ll have no “today” to be thankful for. Let go and live! Don’t let the past and future steal your present.
You act like it’s you against the world, but it’s really just you against yourself. You become a prisoner in your own mind when you cling to the pains of another time and place. Instead, be free and cling no more. If you’re brave enough to say “goodbye,” life will always reward you with a new “hello.” So keep your faith and focus on the present as you put one foot in front of the other. Doing so won’t make all your dreams and goals easier, but it will make them possible.
7. Fear of looking undesirable.
As you grow older, what you look like on the outside becomes less and less of an issue, and who you are on the inside becomes the focal point of interest. You eventually realize that beauty has almost nothing to do with looks; it’s who you are as a person, how you make others feel about themselves, and most importantly, how you feel about yourself.
So no matter how plain and undesirable you may feel right now, if your truth is written across your face, you are beautiful. What you do, and the way you think, makes you beautiful. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. You may look into a mirror and see flaws, but someone else looks at you and sees a person they love. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you see the beauty of your imperfections, sometimes even before you do.
8. Fear of what you don’t understand.
Nothing in life is to be feared, everything is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so you may fear less. Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery from fear of what you don’t understand.
Those of us who can’t handle the tension of not understanding often judge and lash out at others. We defend our circumstances by condemning people in different circumstances. That’s how it works – you either learn to let your uncertainty come and go, or you don’t, and instead dump it on others. So much depends on simply learning that feeling uncertain is not a sign that anything’s wrong with you or anyone else – it’s just a sign that we’re all human. Nobody has it all figured out. NOBODY! We’ve all got confusion and joy and pride and exhaustion circling in our minds. Beautiful things are hard to understand at first – they’re designed that way so we must study them carefully, which ends up bringing us together instead of pushing us apart. (Read The Four Agreements.)
9. Fear of change.
Change is often resisted when it’s needed the most. Yet, if nothing ever changed there would be no sunrise the next morning. Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us. Learning to accept this is vital to our happiness and general success in life. Because only when we change, do we grow, and begin to see a world we never knew was possible.
Ultimately, you can choose to let your past define you and confine you, or you can choose to learn, grow, and leave it behind you. Just like the seasons, you have the ability to change. In many ways, you already have.
And don’t forget, however good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So embrace it, and realize that change happens for a reason. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
The floor is yours…
What fears have been holding you back? What’s one fear you need to face sooner rather than later? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
Photo by: Nicolo Paternoster