"Thinking will not overcome fear but action will." -W. Clement Stone
Fear is a common barrier that exists between where you are and where you want to be.
We all experience fear to some degree. It doesn't always manifest as sweaty palms or heart palpitations, either. Sometimes the presence of fear is subtle and sneaky, finding its way into areas of your life where it often goes unnoticed.
If you’ve come up with a list of New Year’s resolutions that you want to bring to fruition but one or many of them seem intimidating (which is often the case when it comes to conversations or confrontation), it may be beneficial to turn towards the barrier rather than try to ignore or bypass it. Doing so can help propel you forward toward your goals with greater force, whereas unacknowledged fear can feel like strong winds pushing against you as you try to move forward.
The presence of fear isn’t an issue in itself. In fact, you can continue to operate regardless of fear. But without investigating more closely, fear can begin to function outside of your awareness by showing up as inhibitions that prevent you from experiencing what could be.
Fear is worthy of a closer look because it plays a causal role in the life you are automatically leading versus the life you'd like to be intentionally creating.
Psychology Today details how surface-level fears boil down to five main core fears that we all share:
1. Extinction (death)
2. Mutilation (dismemberment)
3. Loss of Autonomy (loss of freedom or control)
4. Separation (rejection, abandonment)
5. Ego-death (loss of identity)
One effective approach to exposing a fear is to visualize how things would be different in the best-case scenario. Envision what your environment, your relationships, and your professional achievements would look like in full bloom.
Then, ask yourself:
What conversations have you been avoiding with colleagues? What personal perspectives or concerns are you harboring that have yet to be expressed?
What have you been telling yourself and others that you'd like to do but have yet to take on?
What's something you'd like to see become reality but have "practical" reasons as to why you can't follow through?
If you can answer the what aspect of these questions, fear is likely present.
So what's the cure, the antidote, the alternative? It’s simple: taking action.
It may sound like a daunting task to confront fear, but the objective is not to get rid of fear altogether. Instead, it’s to become aware of it and take inspired action in opposition to it. And fortunately, baby steps suffice—you may not have that difficult conversation right off the bat, but you can begin planning and preparing for the eventual confrontation.
And taking action isn’t just a Pollyanna “you can do it” type of platitude—it’s backed by neuroscientific research. A New York Times article on rewriting traumatic memories explains how positive exposure to a feared scenario can lessen fear related to that scenario over time.
If you still feel reluctant to act regarding your resolutions, dig a little deeper: if nothing changes, what are the implications? What do you feel when you consider these possible outcomes? The answer may help you pinpoint the core fear and provide the fuel you need to take action.
Be fierce and combat fear by taking an inspired action today, whether it be big or small, towards what you want to achieve in 2017.