We all have fears. Small ones, innate ones, big scary dark ones. Ones that grip us and freeze us into stone. Ones that keep us from moving forward and help hold us in place of the same decision making and behaviour patterns. Even as I write this post and face a blank page, I feel fear. Fear of not being able to express exactly into eloquent words what I want to say. We put off doing things, confronting things, saying things due to our fears. And it’s time to let go and taste the freedom that erasing our fears can create.
When we overcome the ideas and thoughts that hold us back, we learn something new about ourselves. We feel empowered because we’ve taken control and created our own narrative. Our own self-limiting thoughts may have prevented us from doing the things we wanted to in the past. How many times have you wanted to pursue something that scared you slightly but yet excited you? Did you push past those negative thoughts and went ahead or did fear paralyze you?
A confession: I have a real deep rooted fear of failure. Despite being academically successful in my youth and having established a decent career in my field. I love starting projects but I can have a real problem finishing them. Why? Due to my self-imposed pressures I create and the thought that I will not meet my expectations. But as I approach the age of 40, I realize it’s time to shed those binds holding me back and push ahead with my vision. There is something very scary about starting your own business. I am putting myself out there, my ideals and thoughts. What if no one likes what I have to offer? Or, how can I possibly compete with that xyz? But by avoiding the deep calling I’ve felt within me to create Noorish Tofino, I won’t ever know whether this idea will spring into life. To overcome this fear, I must re-frame what I think of failure. Failure isn’t always bad. Failure is a learning opportunity if I can expand my horizons and learn from my mistakes and those of others.
So do something that scares you - once a month, a week, a day. You might surprise yourself. When I first tried surfing, I was terrified before I even stepped into the water. I couldn’t imagine myself out there having fun. I was afraid of the murky gray and cold water and of the waves sloshing around. The fear physically gripped me and I wasn’t breathing properly. My mindset was already in self-sabotage mode. Fortunately, I had a very kind and patient instructor who with her smile and calm energy, coaxed me out and on her first push off the big floaty foam surfboard, I stood up and felt the magic of “standing” on water for the first time ever. A smile spread across my face and I was hooked. Without pushing past my initial gut feeling of fear, I may not have ever started surfing, a sport that has brought such incredible experiences into my life and introduced so many wonderful friends I now know.
What is it that scares you? You may instinctively know or you may need to contemplate deeply to find the answer. Maybe you are afraid to try new things because the unknown is scary, or maybe you are anxious to travel without your family because you believe without you they will fall apart. You find excuses to avoid the task; you put it off and procrastinate. Whatever it might be, try to recognize the triggers. Note how it makes you feel and try to understand where those thoughts came from and what behaviours it’s creating (or not creating, as in avoidance). Our fears can be created from previous bad experiences, or passed down from our family since early childhood. Once you recognize what you’re dealing with, you can find a way to overcome the blockage.
This is not an article instructing you how to beat your fears. That, is a path you must find. Rather, it’s recognizing that each and every one of us have things that give us anxiety. And by knowing what that is for you and how it limits you, you can focus on taking the power back into your hands. Living without self-limitations will give you new sense of freedom and a feeling that you CAN, do and achieve anything.