Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid;
courage means you don’t let fear stop you.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Don’t ever hesitate to give yourself a chance to be everything you are capable of being.
Although fear can feel overwhelming, and defeats more people than any other force in the world, it’s not as powerful as it seems. Fear is only as deep as your mind allows. You are still in control. The key is to acknowledge your fear and directly address it. You must step right up and confront it face to face. This tactic robs fear of its power, instead of fear robbing YOU of…
1. Your true path and purpose.
Fear of being different…
Don’t be fooled by what others say, especially when they try to tell you what is right for you. Listen and then draw your own conclusions. What is your intuition telling you?
There is not a clear path that everyone should follow. Your greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding in life at all the wrong things. Choose a path that fits YOU. Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it. Challenge yourself to ask with each and every step, and each focus point that consumes your energy: “Does this thing I’m doing right now truly serve me and those I care about in the next few minutes, few months, and few years?”
Whatever you settle on, just make sure you don’t gain the whole world by losing your soul and purpose in the process. (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
Fear of not being good enough…
Don’t be too hard on yourself. There are plenty of people willing to do that for you. Do your best and surrender the rest. Tell yourself, “I am doing the best I can with what I have in this moment. That is all I can ever expect of anyone, including me.” Love yourself and be proud of everything you do, even your mistakes, because your mistakes mean you’re trying.
If you feel like others are not treating you with love and respect, check your price tag. Perhaps you subconsciously marked yourself down. Because it’s YOU who tells others what you’re worth by showing them what you are willing to accept for your time and attention. So get off the clearance rack. If you don’t value and respect yourself, wholeheartedly, no one else will either.
3. Your ability to make concrete decisions.
Fear of commitment…
You cannot live your life at the mercy of chance. You cannot stumble along with a map marked only with the places you fear, or the places you know you don’t want to revisit. You cannot remain trapped, endlessly, in a state where you are unable to ask for directions, even though you’re terribly lost, because you don’t know your destination.
You have to commit to goals that speak to you. You have to stand up, look at yourself in the mirror, and say, “It isn’t good enough for me to know only what I DON’T want in life. I need to decide what I DO want.” (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
4. Priceless opportunities and life experiences.
Fear of change and discomfort…
As Thich Nhat Hanh so perfectly said, “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
In many cases you stay stuck in your old routines for no other reason than that they are familiar to you. In other words, you’re afraid of change and the unknown. You continually put your dreams and goals off until tomorrow, and you pass on great opportunities simply because they have the potential to lead you out of your comfort zone.
You start using excuses to justify your lack of backbone: “Someday when I have more money,” or “when I’m older,” or the over-abused “I’ll get to it as soon as I have more time.” This is a vicious cycle that leads to a deeply unsatisfying life – a way of thinking that eventually sends you to your grave with immense regret. Regret that you didn’t follow your heart. Regret that you always put everyone else’s needs before your own. Regret that you didn’t do what you could have done when you had the chance.
5. General happiness and peace of mind.
Fear of facing inner truths…
If you keep looking for happiness outside yourself, you will never find it. Happiness is found from within. What you seek is not somewhere else at some other time; what you seek is here and now, within you. The more you look for it outside yourself, the more it hides from you.
Relax, remember the source of your deepest desires, and allow yourself to know their fulfillment. A choice, not circumstances, determines happiness. Each morning when you open your eyes, say to yourself: “I, not external people or events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. It’s up to me. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t come yet. I only have today and I’m going to be happy in it.” (Read The Untethered Soul.)
6. Your willingness to love, truly and purely.
Fear of not being loved in return…
Although it is nice when gestures of love are returned, true love is one-way traffic. It’s a pure flow of giving and expecting nothing in return. Anything else is a contract. Notice how whenever you allow love to flow you are always clear, calm and strong. It is only when the thought arises, “What have they given me in return?” that there is confusion and resentment. Ego transacts, love transforms. Life is too short for all these meticulous contracts and transactions.
Look out for yourself by focusing your love in a direction that feels right to you, but once you decide to love, remain clear, remain bright, and remain strong. Love without expectation. Don’t let fear get in your way. When the love you give is true, the people worthy of your love will gradually reveal themselves over time.
7. The right company.
Fear of being alone…
Sadly, no matter how much love you give, some relationships simply aren’t meant to be. You can try your hardest, you can do everything and say everything, but sometimes people just aren’t worth stressing over anymore, and they aren’t worth worrying about. It’s important to know when to distance yourself from someone who only hurts you and brings you down. When you give your love to someone, truly and purely without expectation, and it’s never good enough for them, there’s a good chance you’re giving your love to the wrong person.
The bottom line is that long-term relationships should help you, not hurt you. Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and like-minded. And remember, good relationships are a sacred bond – a circle of trust. Both parties must be 100% on board. If and when the time comes to let a relationship go, don’t be hostile. Simply thank the relationships that don’t work out for you, because they just made room for the ones that will.
Your biggest fears are completely dependent on you for their survival. Every new day is another chance to change your life, and it’s way too short to let fear interfere. Today, focus your conscious mind on things you desire, not things you fear. Doing so can bring your dreams to life.
What has fear stolen from you? What has it stopped you from doing, being, or achieving? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the community.
Photo by: Stuart Anthony
Fear stole tears from my eyes … It stopped me from living my life to the fullest, but I am learning, and thanks to that everything happens for a reason I think.
Fear shows us where the best opportunities are in life.
WOW! This article is sooooooooo wonderful. It seems that every time I have an issue or problem, I get your articles in my email and it always seems to address what is going on with my life and my problems at the EXACT time. Marc and Angel really are angels!!
I let fear steal a lot. But it you know, you have to fight thru it people. Let me tell you, I let my boss, a real ass put fear in me and NEVER again because you cannot give a person control over your life. I just recently lost my mother and my boss was not understanding about me taking LEGAL time off to be with her. I was on Family Medical Leave Act and she was in end stage heart failure. She was a fighter to the end and told me she loved me when she couldn’t even eat or swallow or barely talk.
My boss wanted me at work even though I was on legal leave and he never let me forget it. Well, karma is a bitch so we’ll leave it at that. However, there were days I actually went into the office to appease him because of fear. God, I wish I hadn’t had that fear because fear is an illusion -either yours or someone elses’s based on THEIR ISSUES and fear.
Well, I have no fear now. Maybe it was my mom’s passing, but if he tries to give me crap about being off on leave for her passing I won’t hold back this time.
It’s hard to control fear. It’s real hard. But you know, fear isn’t anything but an illusion we create -don’t let it take up priceless real estate in your head and print out this article. I did!!
God bless you all and thank you Marc and Angel for such a worthy website. 99% of the ones out there aren’t worth a damn but yours IS!
Marc Chernoff says
@Angie and Dev: Thank you so much for supporting our work. I’m so happy our book is helping you.
@CharleneExtreme: Declaring this is the first step. Now take action. Just pick one area of your life where you know fear lives and address a small piece of it today.
@Christy King: It’s great to hear you’re doing better. Angel and I try to do something similar. Once a week we try something new, and once a month we try something new that forces us to operate outside of our comfort zone.
@Naheed Naim: Be brave my friend. You can stick to it. You are plenty strong enough. Good luck to you.
@Emilio: I’m so happy to hear our words are helping you. And congrats on the improvements.
@Keith and liberty4ev: I’ve been right there with you many times. If I can do it, I know you can too. It really is a matter of taking that first step outside your comfort zone. Good luck.
@Betsy: Happy birthday!
@Mary Jane Allen: Well stated!
@David Rapp: Excellent additions. Exceeding expectations and along with the fear of not being good enough was a big one for me many years ago.
@Tania: Yep. When fear stops you from making a decision, life passes you by.
@Nici: Thank you for sharing your story. You are a brave soul for doing so. Honestly, you need to start one new healthy habit today, do it for 30 days, and then add another for 30 days, etc. I would start with taking a 2-mile walk every single morning. Do that for 30 days. Then add a low calorie, healthy lunch into the mix – like one Cliff’s Builders Bar, an Apple, and a glass of water. Best of luck to you.
@Dean Sutherland: Wow! That’s quite an incredible story of triumph. It sounds like your friend is a godsend. Congrats on turning things around in your life.
@All: Thank you so much for sharing all your lovely stories, remarks, and insightful bits of wisdom. Your words continue to inspire me to write. (I’ve got to run at the moment, but I will jump back on here tomorrow and respond to the rest of your comments.)
JR Fent says
Love it. Definitely linking to this one. -JR
Marc Chernoff says
@Stan: One step at a time. It’s sounds like you’re doing fine.
@Ruby: Communication – make sure you and your husband are on the same page. Talk things out. It sounds like you may have let a lot bottle up inside. Best wishes to you.
@Rachel: Please read these two articles: https://www.marcandangel.com/2013/08/04/6-reasons-your-relationship-is-suffering/ and https://www.marcandangel.com/2013/09/12/10-things-happy-couples-do-differently/ – Take the advice in these articles that apply to your situation and start making baby steps in the right direction. It’s not too late if you are prepared to make changes, and prepared to communicate with your partner. I wish you the best.
@Cindy: You can’t let fear rule you like this. You have to let go: https://www.marcandangel.com/2013/09/02/5-things-you-should-know-about-letting-go/
@Nancy McKee: Sounds like a beautiful, worthwhile journey. Go for it!
@Glen: I love your attitude! Thanks for sharing your story.
@Caitlin: Great motto!
@Anya: We are all in this together. Welcome to the community.
@Rosie: Love is always risk. The key is to love wholeheartedly, without expectation. Over time, if you come to the conclusion that the love is not returned to you, it is time to take steps in the direction that feels right to you.
@MJ: It’s NOT too late! Read: https://www.marcandangel.com/2013/04/07/6-reasons-you-arent-dead-yet/
@Susan: I think our book may help you. Also, this article: https://www.marcandangel.com/2012/01/22/12-things-successful-people-do-differently/
@Emi: Thank you for sharing with us. And thanks so much for the kindness.
@All: A big thanks to all of you, as always, for continuing to inspire us.
So here, right now (esp. 1, 2, 3). I needed this. Praying for courage for us all to do what we should. Thank you.
Rachel xx says
Marc, thank you so much for posting these! I love this site, I find so many priceless life tips here. I know these can be applied in general in everyone’s lives but this helped me specifically deal with an emotionally abusive relationship I got out of recently. It was my longest, most significant relationship lasting almost four years. Your points on finding your true purpose and letting go of suffering in order to capture those priceless life experiences was great. I have been struggling a lot with self-respect and happiness and these helped lift me up again. I also know how to deal with the conclusion of my last relationship better. I am ready to make room for someone who will love me more purely and for who I am. Thank you, thank you!
I loved this post! Very relevant to where I’m at right now. Thank you!
Tanya Kristine says
I’m #4 all the way. I do bad behavior, even when I don’t want to, because it’s what i know.
I’m going to stop that.
This was VERY well written…as you can imagine, i’ve read tons and tons of motivational-type articles…
As always, phenomenal post! I’m so grateful.
I’ve let fear control my entire adult life. I have also sacrificed my own self and only focused on others’ happiness out of fear of leaving my comfort zone, fear of disappointing others by not committing to taking care of their needs, fear of rejection if I didn’t take a leadership role in something someone else needed. In not facing my fears, I’ve been untrue to my SELF.
I have suffered for the majority of my adult life because I have “what if’d” myself to the limit. “What if this happens? I’d better stay where I am — or, I’ll think about it tomorrow.” I have no kids, so I haven’t shared this trait with offspring (my mom is EXACTLY the same way about fears and comfort zone…so is my only sister….I’ve just started to realize it — and I’m sharing your wisdom with my mom and sister, too….) PLEASE be a role model and don’t allow your kids to fall into this fear trap because they see you stuck in it. They are counting on you to help them succeed!
Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote, “people have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar” is just so appropriate.
Again, thank you for yet another great post. I’m taking baby steps (conquering fears and changing my life), and I REFUSE to let fear keep me down any longer, darn it!!! 🙂 Good luck, everybody. We’ll make it through this!
Fear has taken my whole life away. I am feeling quite depressed at this stage, knowing how much I have lost through fear of my husband’s anger and bullying. I was so looking forward to inheriting my childhood home and the moment we got it he promptly sold it. Out of fear and shock I was unable to speak that that was not what I wanted. From many years he has the ability to paralyze and numb me into abject silence. How pathetic is that?
Marc Wildman says
Marc, superb article. I was dealing today with my arch nemesis and desiring to manoeuvre forward. Occasionally, I will type my quandary into the Google browser and lo and behold your commentary miraculously appeared. I took your advice and went forward.
Mr T says
Thank you so much. No 4 does it for me. Always waiting for the right moment to do something and that moment never really comes, and by the time you realize it 10 years will have passed standing in one spot not having achieved anything in life.
I have started asking myself daily. Is this the life my mother would have wanted me to lead? Is this what I would want my daughters to do in my situation? What kind of an example am I setting for children and grandchildren. I am on my 3rd marriage. In my 50’s and in a marriage that has lasted 12 years and we were together 5 years before. We don’t live together and have not except for occasional trial periods that did not work. At this point I don’t want to be around him. But I can’t bring myself to end it. I feel stuck and unable to take the next step.
Fear has taken a lot from me, I fear so many things that it would take me writing a book to list them all, the main thing fear has taken from me is my life. I have a fear of making friends and meeting new people, I am terrified of being judged by other people, I am terrified to leave my house because I don’t like people looking at me. The list goes on and on but like I said the biggest thing fear has taken is MY LIFE.
I have been through so much that I’m letting it hold me back from reaching my potential. I hide myself away from people and shimmy around their personalities. I don’t know what I want and my mind can’t make sense of my heart. I’m always tired. I’m always alone. And I am always afraid.
Many days my fears win when I don’t fight back. However, many days I make good progress.
I am glad I found this blog. I will keep this article close by since it has so many valuable tools/lessons to help with the fight against fear.
Thanks for your “Practical tips for productive living”. 😀
First of all…I let fear control some parts of my life, declining my future. I now regret some past choices, but it was my fault. When I woke up today, I saw a beautiful sunrise, and I decided to change my life…I know by myself that I can do it, even if no one else sees it, I must see it for myself! The first step to change my life is to forgive myself, and start over…To be happy in the present, and not to worry about the future, cause our actions in the present affect our future. And now when I realised that there is nothing to be afraid of, that every one of is a great person. Change comes from the inside, not from the outside! And i must say, such a great article…I’m grateful that I stumbled upon this article, just in time! The day I started to change my life.
I don’t think I have ever been more scared than the last two years of my life. I lost my identity as a healthy person. I had breast cancer. I lost my sister to breast cancer a year and half after I was diagnosed. I lost my job when I was going through recovery. And the friends I always thought I have for life, I no longer felt connected to them. So much loss put me in a lot of fear about who I am as person and what my life meant. I feared and still fear the future, the unknown, my own mortality etc. I did spiral down to the point of despair. When I hit rock bottom, I had a hard choice to make. I was either going to choose to live or check out and give up on myself. As desperate as I felt about my life, thank god I also felt a tiny, very tiny spark of light which I will call hope. I clung onto that hope like it was my only lifeline. I started facing my fears and acknowledging what was in front of me. My fear put me in fight or flight mode and I ran and holed myself up in my home. I am in the process of rebuilding my life but instead of running away from all the scary feelings that was keeping me down. I am going to use those same feelings to catapult me into something greater. Thank you for writing this article. I loved what you said, “Your greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding in life at all the wrong things.” So true, that was the life I lived before my meltdown. That will not be how I will be living my life after.