“Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” – Dale Carnegie
How do we overcome our fear to take decisive action? Here are three reasons making decisions out of fear can hurt you.
Fear keeps you stuck. Fear can keep you from being the person you want to be. It can paralyze you and stop you from taking action or making the decisions that will help you achieve your goals. Don’t let the past control your present and future. Knowing that mistakes are inevitable and that they help us grow can help you let go of the fear of the unknown. Allowing fear to be in the driver’s seat means moving away from what you want instead of towards it. You can end up in a place of indecision or constant mind-changing, leading others to feel confused. Instead, accept that your past pain made you stronger. Trust that you’ll be ready should anything go wrong. Focus on achieving what you want.
The cost of not taking action is worse than the risk of trying. The ironic outcome of deciding based on fear is that you won’t get what you want. Sometimes, not taking action can hurt you more than taking it and not knowing the exact outcome. Our fear is there to protect us in a dangerous situation. But, how often are we actually in danger? Your fearful thoughts can trick your mind into believing the worse possible outcome will happen. The truth is, you don’t know that. Have you considered every possible scenario? What would happen if your decision led to a positive outcome? While it’s a good idea to consider the risks, it’s also necessary to visualize and imagine how it would feel if you achieved your desired outcome. Is the plan viable? DO you have the skills and resources to pull it off? Is the cost of not trying worth it to you? If the answer to the latter question is no, and you’re prepared and capable, the answer is simple. Try it and see what happens.
Fear will trap you in overthinking. There is no way to predict every possible thing that could happen if something goes wrong. But what’s true is that your fear can cause you to avoid and procrastinate about an important decision. The result would be that the opportunity passes you by, you make a worse decision, or nothing changes. When we’re afraid or anxious, we can be blind to the options we have available to us. Dealing with that fear so you can have a clear mind will help you expand your thinking and see all of your options. The problem with overthinking is that you never get past your paralysis and take action. What’s certain about not taking action is that it won’t lead to the outcome you desire or help you get to your goal.
While it’s clear that your fearful thoughts can block progress and keep you stuck, there is something you can do about it.
Use mindfulness to manage your fear. Pay attention to your energy levels, your emotions, your body’s reactions to situations. What is triggering your fear? Are you imagining a scenario in your future? Are you expecting the worse possible outcome? Think about how you normally feel fear. You can learn to recognize your behavior and thought patterns. Try doing some journaling to help you figure out why you’re feeling afraid. What are your thoughts surrounding the fear? Are they real and valid? Or, are they imagined because you’ve experienced something similar in the past, or don’t have enough information about the possible outcome? Take a minute to breathe in and center your thoughts. Try meditation or even just relaxation. Quiet your mind and focus on the present moment. Once you’ve centered yourself and calmed your mind you can focus on finding the answers you need. Is this something you truly want? Does it align with your goals and who you are? If so, why are you feeling anxious or afraid? Can you find solutions for these blockages? Can you come up with a workable game plan? Imagine the outcome you desire. Will this decision help you get there? Once you’ve answered all of these questions, you’re ready to make your decision.
It was Ram Dass who said that if you want to cure the world, you have to emanate love, not fear. What he meant is that when our energy is fear-based, we go into the world with a limited mindset. Our fears can block us from seeing the true potential of our actions. Only with a loving mind can we truly make decisions that will bring happiness and peace to our own lives and the people around us.
Copyright Michelle Thompson 2021. Copyright Authentic World Inc 2021.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle. I have over twenty years of experience as a group facilitator, zen meditator, and public educator. I’ve helped thousands of people re-imagine their lives and create concrete plans for self-improvement. I’ve facilitated dozens of workshops and support groups on topics like stress management, mental health and wellness, goal setting, grief counselling, safety planning, and confidence building. I’m a former social worker and non-profit consultant, and after struggling for years with my own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty about who I was and what I wanted, I did the work and learned how to get out of my own way and create an authentic meaningful life for myself. Now I teach others to do the same. I created Authentic World Inc, to offer a supportive space for learning these important life skills.
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