Can You Overcome Fear?

Here’s a little secret no one wants to admit: You can’t really overcome your fears and doubts. Wait. Don’t panic! You CAN put them in their proper place so they aren’t influencing your decision making and running your life so that you can meet your goals and create the vision you have for your life. Let’s break that down so you have something to work with and aren’t in a tailspin with this revelation.

To get a handle on fear and doubt, you first have to have a vision for your life. The great news is that every day you are making choices that creates your life. That’s right, YOU are the author (and editor). Even if you believe in a supreme being having a plan for you, you still get to decide minute by minute, choice by choice how that plan unfolds. You have great power in your choices. Don’t take that power for granted.

So you might be thinking “Having a vision sounds good, but what does that mean!?” It means you are intentional about thinking about what you want your life to be, who you want to become. Because this can feel too fuzzy or too big or too whatever, I have my clients create a vision board as a way to put their thoughts on paper. And to commit to those thoughts by saying them out loud and putting them on display (even if only they ever see the board). A vision board also serves as a tangible and powerful reminder that can serve as your north star to keep you focused. When doubt or fear show up, look at your vision board and ask if the decision at hand is aligned with your vision for your life.

Once you have a vision and know where you are going, you can then turn to getting a grip on your fears with these 2 steps:

Step 1 – Consider your fears. Let them bubble to the surface. Push yourself to be honest and name them. Are you scared to risk? Are you afraid others will judge you? Do you have limiting beliefs such as “I am not good enough”? What are the barriers that keep you stuck in a place you don’t want to be? This process itself can be difficult. We spend a lot of time, money, & energy avoiding our fears which backfires and gives fear the power to control our lives. Fear is always going to play it safe. It’s that ancient part of our brain’s job to keep us safe that kicks into overdrive when we perceive danger. But the reality is we no longer are prey to the same kinds of predators as our ancestors and fear goes overboard on the protection front.

Step 2 – Do something to put the fears you’ve named in check. Show them who’s boss! (Another secret revealed: YOU are the boss!) This also requires a tangible reminder. We all know how easy it is to let that little voice of doubt grow into a roaring lion in our heads. To help with this, I have my clients create a fear chair where they paint their fears onto a stool or chair. I even had my daughter do this a couple of years ago and it has been very powerful for her as she stares down all the fears that come with growing up. This chair project was inspired by a story Elizabeth Gilbert describes in her magnificent book “Big Magic.” In her book, she also writes a letter to her fears letting them know that she respects them enough to bring them on the trip but that they in no uncertain terms NEVER get to drive (or even touch the control panel). Maybe writing a letter is your tangible reminder. Tell your fears that you appreciate how they keep you safe but that you are putting them on notice that they are no longer in control.

And now for the big reveal! Once you have a vision for your life and have put your fears in check, you can start embracing the JOY of your power by setting 3 to 5 SMART goals to begin the work of turning that vision into reality. More on SMART goals to come if you aren’t familiar with that concept.

I know that this is all easier said than done but trust me when I tell you that YOU do have the power to choose and create the life you want. I am living proof! I lived my life for decades in a fog (and vortex) of depression and grief as a result of childhood trauma. I let fear and doubts take the wheel for so long. Like the lotus flower, I transformed in the muck and bloomed into a strong, beautiful woman who daily practices using my power to choose joy over fear and doubt. Don’t let fear and doubt hold you back from the joy of creating the life you want for yourself! You have the power of choice. Use it!

If you would like the support of a coach to guide and hold you accountable in this process of putting fears in their place and envisioning a life that is full of joy and purpose, take that first brave step and send me a message at msweatman@gmail.com.

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