Life moves on with or without us.
If we want to set new goals for ourselves, change is inevitable. But the fear that the goals we have set ourselves may not work out for us – or others may think we are being ridiculous – often means that our dream of a better future remains just exactly that.
The grip of ‘fear’ holds us back.
'Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.' Les Brown
Did you know that fear can be as positive an emotion as love, admiration, compassion, happiness, etc. After all, fear is a defensive reaction to a real or perceived threat – something which seeks to harm us – so it can be life-preserving as it serves to protect us from danger. It can also be ‘preserving’ our sense of self-worth by preventing us from taking a ‘risky’ action which could harm our often all too fragile confidence.
It keeps us firmly within our comfort zone.
However, often the fears which prevent us from taking the actions required to embed change are not serving us well. These fears are stopping us from living our lives to the full. If we let them control our thoughts and actions we will not be utilising our strengths and resources in a way which will enable us to fulfil as much of our potential as possible.
Some of the common fears I often hear are -
· Will I succeed - & if I do will I maintain my success?
· Perhaps I don’t deserve to be successful?
· Will my friends/family reject me/think I’m over-confident and assertive?
· My fear of failing makes me fearful of taking hold of change – it may permanently affect my self-confidence!
It may seem bizarre but some people are more afraid of success than they are of failing!
It’s rooted in the concept that change itself is destabilising – uncertain/unsettling – even threatening – so why bother?
But by asking ourselves more empowering questions we can replace our fear with motivational energy & fulfilling excitement
· What will it be like when I’ve achieved the change I want for myself?
· What will I be noticing when I’ve achieved my goal?
· Who will be noticing what I’ve achieved and what will they be noticing has changed most?
· How will I feel about myself if I don’t go for my goal?
· In what ways will my self-esteem benefit?
· What kind of person will I be as a result?
· What small step could I take TODAY towards achieving my goal?
· What can I do to ensure failures along the way to achieving my goal become learning opportunities?
We demonstrate fear when something suddenly surprises us or when we over-think what the future holds. Our thoughts are affected by our experiences, how we view our life, big or sudden changes in our lives which we can’t control [illness etc] or a focus on past failures; even perhaps listening and learning from people around us who embrace their fears.
The biggest achievers throughout history have been people who experienced great fear and still moved on towards their goal [read Albert Einstein’s story for inspiration.] Bravery has everything to do with how we handle our fear, not how much fear we experience.
Part of my work as an NLP Solution-Focused coach is to identify the reasons for an underlying fear of change – to empower my client to acknowledge and ‘thank’ those fears for the protection they have provided and then find a more resourceful and motivating alternative which will achieve the desired change. Your fears are unique to you. The good news is that you also have the strengths & resources to replace fear with fulfilment. You’ve just got to access the ‘how’.
Here are 7 ways towards fulfilment and away from fear:
1. Identify what the fear is as specifically as possible.
Sit quietly on your own for a few minutes and ask yourself ‘What exactly am I afraid of?’ Write the answer down. Then start writing answers to these questions: Where did this fear come from? How long have I had it for? Is this fear grounded in reality? When and how did it materialise?
2. Create a better story – a narrative to inspire success.
Briefly explore what story you are telling yourself at the moment. Oprah Winfrey was constantly told the story that she would never be successful because she was a poor, black woman. She was fired from her job as a TV presenter because ‘she was not fit for television’. Oprah had a choice – to believe the ‘narrative’ she was given or ‘create’ a better one! She chose to do the latter. As a result, she holds the title of the most influential female presenter in the world. Enjoy creating YOUR narrative – the success you want to realise for yourself is within your grasp.
3. Make the pain [fear] of not taking action bigger than the pain [fear] of taking action.
For example, if you work in an office but have a passion for working on cars in a workshop but are afraid to leave your job, then ask yourself the question ‘what will happen if I never realise my dream to work on cars?’ Your answer may be, ‘I will never feel fulfilled and happy in my career’. What is the price of your happiness? If you realise that your fear of losing your job is smaller than your fear of never living your passion, then that will help you overcome your fear.
6. Immediately construct your ‘preferred future’ – what do you want instead of your fear?
Again, sitting quietly, use any/every part of your VAK-OG [visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory and gustatory] sensory modalities to BUILD what it will be like when you are living your achievement – when the change you want has happened. Yes! You ARE the change you want to see. Live it NOW.
5. Ask the question ‘what will this change give me that I don’t have now?’
Understanding the reasons why you need to make this change will further empower you to overcome your fear – so make a list of them – add a powerful picture and/or sounds if this helps.
6. Use past successful experiences of change [even small ones] as motivation for action.
When did you deal with a similar situation? What coping strategies did you use? Which of your skills & resources did you utilise? Who helped you? What was your first step? What enabled you to overcome your fear?
7. Find a role model [or visit a Solution-Focused NLP coach].
Find someone who has achieved what you would like to achieve [or something similar.] Someone who has successfully overcome obstacles along the way. What worked for them? ‘Model’ their success strategies. Keep yourself inspired by finding someone who inspires you.
Choose to believe that change can move you
towards what you want and away from fear.