Fear: The No 1 Barrier to Success
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Why does fear squash and constrain you from living your dreams?
Fear lives in your mind and eats away at your confidence levels and self-esteem. You know fear intimately as it manipulates you like an emotional roller-coaster you ride night and day. Fear talks to you subconsciously and convinces you to avoid doing something or expressing anything that might cause discomfort or involve risk. Fear can be paralyzing.
You know fear by many names, but unless you know what fear is and whether or not it’s real, it will continue to control you and become the number one barrier to success.
The key to success is to understand where your fear comes from and to control your fears.
Barrier to Success
Psychologists tell us fear is the most common emotion experienced in our society today. The common fears we all experience in life are fear of poverty, loneliness, criticism, ill health, old age, and death, especially the loss of a loved one. These fears never exist in a vacuum, but when left unchecked, they become a major barrier to success.
Sometimes, fear lives in our imagination. Here’s how.
In a small village in India, a villager had been visiting a sick neighbor several miles away. Returning home late at night, he was walking down a very dark and unlit road. As the man-made his way along the road, he was already very frightened, for this area was known to be visited by dangerous and deadly snakes. “What if I encounter a snake?” he worried, trembling at the thought of running into a snake.
Suddenly, the man noticed something large and thick coiled up in the middle of the road. “It’s a snake!” he cried aloud as he screamed and ran in circles. “Help! Help! Someone come quickly! Help! A snake is about to kill me!”
Another villager was traveling on the same road that night when he heard the commotion. He quickly ran towards the sound of the shouting, where he saw the other villager in distress.
“What’s the matter, my friend?” he asked.
“Look! Look!” shrieked the first villager, pointing a shaking finger at the coiled-up serpent. “It’s a snake! It’s a snake!”
The second villager was carrying a lamp, and he cautiously approached the shadow in the road, held up the light, and looked more closely. There before him, he saw a coil of thick black rope that someone had mistakenly dropped on the road.
“My friend, calm yourself,” the villager said. “There is no snake on the road – it’s only a coiled-up rope. Fear has made your mind play a trick on you.”
Fear, in this case, was False Evidence Appearing Real. There was no snake; his imagination played a trick on him. Imagined or not, his fear was real. How often have you mistaken a rope for a snake in your own life that held you back from success?
Knowing what is real and what you allow to dominate your mind is all part of the battle in overcoming fear.
The Key To Success is to Understand Your Fears
Fear can control your destiny, and the key to success is to face your fears. Easier said than done for many. Draining your fears and restoring your confidence and take a risk is what will set you on the path to freedom. But first, you must understand your fear and where it comes from.
Fear is an automatic response to possible danger; it’s an emotion pre-programmed into humans and animals alike. Mammals developed the ability to focus on anything seen as a threat and they respond with fear to survive as a species, making them a product of their evolution. When animals encounter danger, they usually respond to the situation in one of three ways: to fight, freeze, or flee.
The Origins of Fear
Basic survival instincts began back in the time of the cavemen, also known as the Paleolithic Era when cave dwellers survived by hunting and gathering. They survived because the ‘fight or flight’ response was hard-wired into their brains. The fight or flight instinct served as a mechanism to keep them alert and attentive during times of danger. While the key to success during this era was the fight or flight response when cave dwellers encountered wild animals, modern life doesn’t present us with the same life-threatening situations. Yet today’s fear is the same fear experienced centuries ago.
When was the last time you faced a dinosaur with just a stick or a club for your defense?
The fear designed to protect us from danger today haunts us not just when faced with a threat in a dark alley but sometimes when darkness hits when we crawl into bed at night. As a child, the tree brushing against the window during a storm was a perceived boogyman trying to get into your room through the window.
Instead of serving as a psychological barrier alerting us of pending danger, fear has evolved into perceived threats, triggering the flight or fight response.
Fight or Flight
The term ‘fight or flight’ represents the choices animals make when faced with danger. Animals will respond to threats in many complex ways; for instance, rats will try to escape when they feel threatened but will fight back when cornered. Some animals will stand perfectly still so that predators will not see them, and other animals will freeze or play dead when touched in the hope that the predator will lose interest in them.
The fight or flight response is also known as the acute stress response. It refers to the physiological reaction your brain unleashes in response to a stimulus so emotionally or physically terrifying that it becomes a threat to your survival. It plays a critical role in how you deal with stressful situations and legitimate dangers in your environment.
How Your Body Responds to Fear
Your body has an in-built response mechanism when danger arises. In response to the emotion of fear or acute stress, your body’s nervous system is activated due to a sudden release of hormones. The reaction begins with a sudden rush of both epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline).
These hormones play an essential role in the fight or flight response by increasing blood flow to all important systems preparing your body to fight or flee from the perceived danger. When the fight or flight response is activated, your body suppresses whatever it deems unnecessary for survival. When faced with life-threatening danger, fear is a good thing as it triggers the fight or flight response appropriate for facing impending danger.
The problem arises when the body goes haywire and triggers the flight or fight response when your life isn’t being threatened? It can paralyze you in a meeting while giving a report. It can cause you to fail an exam or mess up a job interview or prevent you from pursuing the life of your dreams. Suddenly that life-saving mechanism is no longer working to your advantage.
Fear, Stress, and Success
The fear designed to protect us from danger today haunts us not just when faced with danger in a dark alley, but sometimes when we crawl into bed at night. Instead of serving as a psychological barrier alerting us of pending danger, it has evolved into perceived threats, triggering the flight or fight response. This is why, when your boss asks to see you in his office, your hands become clammy, and you begin to sweat, fearing you are about to be fired or you are about to give a presentation, and you freeze in front of the audience.
Fear takes on a whole new meaning when we encounter 21st-century stresses. Relationship stress, health-related stress, and stress in the workplace trigger a milder fight or flight response. For instance, if you need to give a presentation at work, you become nervous and your autonomic nervous system kicks in, your heart beats faster, your palms become sweaty, and your breathing becomes more shallow.
While fear served us well in the caveman era or when lost in a jungle, it is not helpful in the jungle we call life.
Fear takes on a whole new meaning when we encounter 21st-century stresses. Relationship stress, health-related stress, the stress in the workplace all of which triggers a milder fight or flight response. If asked to speak in public you become nervous and worry about how your presentation will be received. Your autonomic nervous system kicks in, your heart beats faster, your palms become sweaty, and your breathing becomes more shallow.
The key to success is to learn to control stress and anxiety, which is often why people hire a life coach to help them gain the confidence they need to nail that presentation, speak up in meetings, or blitz the job interview.
If you don’t learn to control fear, you will continue to experience anxiety, stress, and tension in the body. If your body continues to pump out epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol, it will wreak havoc with your health. Your body learns to live in an almost constant fight or flight response, even when there is no impending doom.
5 Keys to Success
Success means something different to each of us. It’s your definition of success that matters, not someone else’s. Whatever your definition is, here are five keys to success.
1. Forgive Yourself
No one is perfect, and your past mistakes or fears do not need to define your future. Treat yourself as your best friend and forgive yourself. Know you are worthy and deserving, and whatever your barriers to success are, you can conquer your fears, and this starts with positive affirmations.
2. Find Your Purpose
Craft a vision for the future supported by your values and goals. When you have a powerful and compelling vision for the future, this drives you to get out of bed each day. When you tie your goals to your vision, you know exactly what actions you need to take to get you closer to your goals and the life you dreamed of. If you lack a purpose in this allows unwarranted fears to infiltrate your sub-conscience mind and take over your confidence levels.
3. Nourish Your Mind
It is just as easy to catch yourself doing things, and well as it does to criticize yourself. Keep a journal of all the things you did well that day and celebrate your successes no matter how small they may be. Write down when you felt confident and empowered. Record what you were doing, who you were with, and what you were feeling. It is far better to concentrate on the positives in your life, not the negatives.
Make a list of positive affirmations to affirm the “new you,” not the old you. These affirmations will fill your mind with positive thoughts slowly build your self-esteem and confidence levels.
This approach will help you overcome your fears.
4. Make Mistakes
As long as you stay within your comfort zone, you will never grow. Know that by leaving your comfort zone, you will make some mistakes. Mistakes don’t need to define you; in fact, mistakes are how you learn. When the mistakes you make are new ones, you know you are headed towards a successful path for the future. It’s only when you repeat past mistakes that cause a barrier to success.
5. Hire a Life Coach or Find a Mentor
Nobody is good at everything in life. While you have some fears, you also have some unique gifts and talents that you may not yet be aware of. A mentor or a life coach can help uncover these unique talents, boost your confidence levels, and put your fear of failure of fear of success to bed permanently. Once you find your purpose and know what you want, a life coach or mentor is there to help you succeed faster than you would on your own.
A life coach’s goal is not to eliminate all fear but to teach you to control your response to perceived fear that is not life-threatening.
On a Final Note
You do not have to struggle alone. Hiring a Life Coach can help you eliminate fear and chase your dreams where you learn how to thrive, not just survive!
Learn how the Strategez for Success Coaching Model helps you master a life of Success. Contact us now or set up your FREE consultation here to find out if Success Coaching, Life Coaching, or Business Coaching is right for you.
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