The thought of being trapped within the walls of a prison may make you cringe; yet, your fears keep you trapped in a prison of your own making. Fears keep you imprisoned by beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that control and limit your life.
Think of one belief you've had that has restricted your life in some way. Here's an example: I grew up with a belief that I wasn't athletic. I had no idea I was limiting my life until, at age 38, under pressure from friends who didn't buy into my belief, I learned to ski. Not only did I love it, I skied well. I decided my old belief was false, took up squash and won a medal for my sporty efforts. Athletic? You bet I am!
How to overcome your fears
You can overcome your fears in five simple steps. Remember to have fun. Make this fear-facing experience enjoyable by buying a nice notebook along with a few of your favourite coloured pens. Decide to embark on self-exploration with an attitude of enthusiasm and excitement. Be completely honest and non-judgmental with yourself. Let the following exercise help you uncover things about your inner self that you didn't know. When you have different information, you can make different decisions. You may even decide that some of your fears aren't so real after all.
On the first page of your notebook, write the following title:
F.E.A.R. = False. Experiences. Appearing. Real.
Under this title, write these nine questions:
1. Is this fear just a F.E.A.R.?
2. Is it an anticipated fear -- something I've made huge by energizing it with too much thought?
3. Is this fear really mine or did it come from someone else?
4. How much has this fear affected my life?
5. Is there something I get from keeping this fear?
6. What has this fear cost me?
7. Do I still want to pay the price?
8. What will I be like if I no longer have this fear?
9. Am I ready to free myself from this fear?
Page 1 of 3 -- Learn how to choose between fears you want to keep and fears you want to lose on page 2
Now take the following steps to truly confront what you're afraid of:
Step 1: List your fears
On the next page(s) of your notebook, use your coloured pens and list ALL of your fears -- each and every last one. Choose the fear you want to confront first and write about it on a new page.
I can't ---------- because I'm afraid I ----------.
Now write a detailed description of this fear, explaining how it has affected you, your life, and the lives of others. Include any benefit you have received from keeping this fear.
I've always wanted to ---------- but I can't because ---------- and it has affected my life in the following ways: ----------.
Under the description of your fear, copy out and answer the nine questions from page one.
Step 2: Keep or lose your fear
Decide whether or not you want to keep the fear. If you choose to let go of the fear instantly, immediately start using new language indicating you no longer claim ownership of it. (i.e., I used to have a fear of ---------- and now I no longer have that old fear.) If you decide you want or need to keep it a while longer, use the remaining three tips to overcome it.
Step 3: Think of the benefits
Write out the number one reason why it will benefit you to free yourself from this fear. Set a time-dated goal for freeing yourself from it. Create an exciting and passionate vision of having already accomplished this goal.
Page 2 of 3 -- Is there something keeping you from overcoming your fears? Find out what you can do about it on page 3
Step 4: What's stopping you from overcoming your fears?
Describe any obstacles to reaching your goal (your excuses for keeping the fear). Decide how motivated and ready you are to give these excuses up -- or are they still useful to you in some way -- as a self-sabotage mechanism for example? Remember to be honest with yourself throughout this process, particularly at this stage when you may be tempted to hold on to your excuses.
Step 5: Find a way to overcome your fears
Take action. Make a plan, stick to it, do whatever it takes to free yourself from your fear. Update your belief system and change your language. If you have to, use that old saying "fake it till you make it" and speak in the present tense with words like "I'm over the fear I used to have about ---------- and I am no longer limited by it." Be accountable for your success by telling others about your intentions. Be strong and determined in your convictions. By facing your most dreaded fear first, the rest of them will seem easy in comparison and your self-image will soar. You can do it. and, you can do it for each fear on your list. Get excited and just go for it. If you need help, find and work with a coach. Do whatever it takes.
If you start to procrastinate while taking on this exercise, laugh at yourself for trying to avoid facing your fears. If you're tempted to not put your fears on paper, ask yourself why. Does it take you out of your comfort zone? Do you have a fear of being outside your comfort zone? Maybe it's time to challenge yourself -- you'll love the feeling of liberation and confidence that comes with overcoming your fears. By freeing yourself from your fears, you'll recharge your life and feel fantastic!
Joy Grace is a Peak PerformanceTM coach, trainer and speaker. She lives in Victoria B.C. and works with clients internationally. Phone: 250-385-4859. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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