Conquering your fears
Everyone is afraid of something, especially those that profess to be particularly tough and resilient. Ironically it is frequently the strongest that turn out to be most vulnerable in our society because they believe it is a sign of weakness if they let the world know they have genuine fears.
It is particularly visible it in our brave soldiers when they return from conflict, unable to resolve what they have seen and done. Many have the false belief that people will mistake them for cowards if they allow their feelings to be seen by others – and they suffer as a result.
We are talking here about extreme cases, but fears are still fears nonetheless, however trivial they may seem - and they have real power over us because we have allowed them into our lives and slowly but surely they have eaten away at our confidence and self-esteem.
Fears are the masters and those that are affected are the slaves and until you resolve to eliminate them from your life you can never be the positive person you really want to be. Even worse, fears act like a highly contagious virus and you will infect others, particularly those close to you, with exactly the same worries.
My blogs frequently return to the theme of breaking those chains, the stuff you pass on to your children – and the worst and biggest candidate of them all is fear. It will stop you in your tracks as effectively as a brick wall, fuelled by your imagination and the dark thoughts that follow from your sub-conscious.
I use the words sub-conscious because that is where your innermost fears are buried and that’s where we have to go to get rid of them for good. So let’s start that journey – it will not be as hard as you think if you are prepared to put your fears into some kind of perspective – and that is just what we are going to do.
Most fears, as real as they seem, are totally irrational and based more on natural anxiety. We need to make this distinction. Natural anxiety is quite normal – it is natural for example to be worried about the safety of your children if they are out alone for the first time; it is natural to be worried about passing an exam that is important to your future and it is natural to be worried about getting a new job after a gruelling interview.
The list is almost endless, but it represents the day to day challenges that face us all and in a perverse kind of way natural anxiety can be a good thing as it spurs us into action to ensure that the things you are worrying about have a better chance of success.
It is only when those worries turn into serious anxieties and they begin to take over your life and when action is needed to bring you back into the light. It could be that there are underlying medical and psychological conditions that are affecting you – and if that is the case then you must seek professional advice.
However, for most people it is the deep rooted fears that are the most dangerous and debilitating. These are the ones that may have been with you since childhood, planted in your sub conscious by your parents or other well-meaning adults who failed to recognise what they were doing.
Those seeds found fertile ground inside you – and if the truth be known, you probably added to them with a little bit of your own imagination and life experience. You almost certainly magnified them and today they remain in the fully grown adult to continue their damage when they are passed on your own children or loved ones.
These are the fears that effectively prevent you from fulfilling your life in the way you want. They act as barriers, virtual brick walls that hold you back in relationships, attracting material things, being the success you desire – I feel sure you can add to this list. But let’s examine these fears in more detail because until you can see them for what they are you will always be unable to deal with them.
Fear is one of the worst emotions anyone can face. I am not talking about raw fear, that gut wrenching adrenaline fuelled feeling where you have to choose between fight or flight. I am looking instead at that nagging day in, day out voice in the back of your head that reduces you to constant worry.
It is the one thing that is preventing you from moving on in your life. It changes the way you think to the point where even the smallest thing can completely change your mood in seconds. All it takes is a misspoken word, maybe a demanding letter, a thoughtless remark – and your mind goes into overtime as you imagine the worst.
You must put these into some kind of perspective. If you are having trouble paying a bill, it doesn’t mean that you will be declared bankrupt with all your possessions taken away. This is the last resort for banks and big corporations who will do their best to help you.
If you had an argument with friends it is unlikely that they will shun you forever, at least not if they are good friends. If you are facing health issues wait until you get the right advice before thinking about the worst outcome.
Fears about losing a job, offending that special person, losing the one you love – that list is almost endless, but feel free to tick the box that applies to you – will end up attracting the very thing you least want.
So how are we going to eliminate fears from your life? Only you can do that but, you are not completely alone so let’s see how Powerful Positive Thinking can help - that combination of positive thinking, common sense, realism and action.
However, before we look at the solution let’s make sure that we properly identify the problem. It starts with you confronting and dissecting your fears and getting them into perspective. Ask yourself what are you really worried about. Chances are all that you have is this nagging feeling of worry and anxiety that something is not quite right.
Start picking at that nagging feeling. What’s it all about? Confront and question it so that you have clearly identified the thing that is worrying you. Drag it out of your mind screaming for all it is worth, if you must – but confront and identify you will – for unless you know what concerns you, no one else can help.
There, as if by magic your worry appears, no longer protected by false emotions but standing naked before you and feeling very vulnerable. It is no longer a nagging worry because you have confronted it and reduced its power over you – it is now only a challenge waiting to be solved. I will return to this later because there are many fears that must be confronted if you ever to be free of them.
Believe it or not, one of these is fear of success. There are millions across the world who live with this phobia on a daily basis. It is difficult to define because success can come and is judged in so many different forms, but it is bad enough to cause major problems for sufferers – and in extreme cases it can be life changing.
It seems ironic that while so many crave success and the fame and fortune that goes with it there are those that fear it with the same level of passion – at least it seems that way especially when you discover that success and the way we react to it, means different things to different people.
At the most basic level there are those that never want to be seen to be standing out in a crowd. That could mean never putting your hand up in class, never volunteering or putting yourself forward for even the most mundane of tasks, always sitting in the back row, hoping you will go unnoticed. These affect the shyest of people in particular which we talk about this later.
Fear of success in such cases means the potential for humiliation, the thought that people will laugh at you if you get it wrong - much better not to try, than to take the risk of public rejection. Confused, I expect you are, because what I am describing sounds more like the fear of failure – so let’s explain the difference.
The two are closely linked, but while the variations may be subtle – they are still very much poles apart. Fear of failure is all about wanting something badly but being too afraid to pursue the dream. Fear of success is the worry that great things will be foisted upon you and you will not be worthy, so best not to try.
This feeling of unworthiness is the real key to understanding fear of success and when you can get that idea fixed in your mind then you can then look to use positive thinking as a potential solution and embrace the real benefits that success brings.
However, unworthiness also comes in many different forms so you need to understand the levers that make you feel this way. The most common relates to money where sufferers feel that they should not have been so blessed or have been more fortunate than others. They find it difficult to cope when they see poverty and lack and as a consequence. They feel guilty that they have been successful while others have not.
It is no good telling such people that there is plenty to go around and everyone can enjoy the same success and prosperity if they practice positive thinking. They have heard for example all the stories that being rich cannot relate to religious beliefs – the best known being about the rich man, the camel and the eye of the needle which implies that the wealthy will never enter heaven.
In spite of these fears there are many who still reach the greatest heights even though they fear being unable to cope with what it brings. Such people conveniently forget that they can use their wealth to benefit the poor and make a difference in a way that reflects their means – they can only see the guilt and as a result are unable to enjoy their money and what it can do.
Even worse is the scenario that those that have the ability to be rich reject the idea because they feel they will never be able to handle money. Equally, they never aspire to let the world see their talent for fear they will not be able to handle fame.
There are many similar variations which all relate to fear of success so you should now have an idea as to whether I am talking about someone like you. If the answer is yes then we should set about doing something about it, but what if your major fear is shyness.
We all know that feeling, that terrible moment when you walk alone into a crowded room, desperate to make eye contact with someone familiar. It’s that lack of confidence which has haunted you all your life. Some call it shyness but that does not go anywhere near to describing the fear that is gripping every fibre of your body right now.
You have read all those self-help books, you have taken in all of the advice, you may even have tried, Lord help us, to imagine your fellow guests vulnerable and naked and it’s not helping. Why is it that everyone else seems to so confident while you inwardly are self-destructing?
Well, I am going to let you into a little secret. Everyone in that room is feeling just like you to a greater or lesser extent. It all depends of course on how long they have known their fellow guests, how old they are, whether it’s a brand new environment – there are multiple permutations of course, but you can be certain that they all feeling a little unsure.
But that does not help me, I hear you say. I just want this feeling to go away, to be less shy and to be that confident outgoing person. Fear and anxiety are holding me back and it has been the same all of my life.
Ok! So we have worked out the problem. What are you going to do about it? Sorry, you will have to speak up – I did not hear you. Surely, you are not waiting for me to give you the answer – the solution is in your hands.
I do not mean to be cruel but when you focus on how bad and unsure you are feeling, you don’t stop to consider that others are having the same problems – and they do have the same uncertainties. What’s that you say – no one could be interested in you, you are not that good looking, you don’t have any special skills, you are a bit overweight?
Well, I’m looking your way right now and I am thinking there is no way that I can speak to you either. I expect you will notice that big spot on the end of my nose and my teeth have turned black with red wine and I always manage to say the wrong thing when I see someone attractive. Why can’t I be as confident as you?
Are you starting to get the picture? Probably, but I know you still have that fear, your throat is chocked up so let’s get back to positive thinking but combine it with some common sense and ask ourselves a few questions.
What is the worst thing that can happen to me if I conquer my fears and start a conversation with that person? What’s that you say – the sky will fall in – why didn’t you say. Best to stand there like a wallflower then.
Conquering that fear starts with a first step and sometimes you will falter and when you do you will stand up, brush yourself down and take another step until that whole glorious new world opens up. You will never totally lose those fears and anxieties. It’s called being human, but you will learn to control them.
Now you are ready to put positive thinking into action. Your fear is once again out in the open, write it down on paper or use a PC, mobile or tablet if you prefer. Go into some detail about this fear and question it. What is the worst thing that can happen? Is that likely?
Carry on writing or typing and then express what you want to happen – the best outcome that’s right for you. Tell the universe that it is not welcome in your life and you wish it to be removed. Check your message, make sure it’s right for you and your wishes – and then destroy it. Tear up the paper, delete the message and have faith that the universe has received it. Vow never to think about it again and then you will be ready for good things to happen.
OK! I accept that it’s not so easy to forget the message because that’s the big worry, but forget it you must because when you keep returning to the problem the universe will assume that you wish to keep it – so keep the faith.
This is when the next part of Powerful Positive Thinking comes into force. You need common sense to decide what else you are going to do to eliminate this or these worries and then choose a course of action with realistic expectations.
As I said at the beginning, everyone is afraid of something – crime, physical violence etc – but these are rational fears and if we are wise, we take steps to avoid such things. You may extend such fears to your loved ones but there is nothing wrong with teaching them to be wary or streetwise and such concerns represent natural anxiety unless you give them power by turning them into an obsession.
It is the mental fears, your own irrational thoughts that we are talking about here – and you have the power to change them when they are confronted and seen for what they really are. You are not powerless and they can be eliminated as soon as you are ready to take that first step – so what are you waiting for?