Overcoming Fear – Part 2 – Tips and Strategies

Part 1 in this 2 part series is about how I tackled a life-long fear of failure in order to see one of my dreams come true. The feeling of success and accomplishment was more than I could put into words. I hope you will go back and read part 1 as well.
What is it that you are afraid of? What could you accomplish without that fear? What does your fear stop you from doing? Are you at a stand still because you are afraid of either success or failure?
The only reason one person has a fear of failure while someone standing beside them does not share the same fear is because of what they say to themselves. Are you afraid of roller coasters? If you are, what is the reason? I used to have a fear of falling out of the seats. If you realize what you are actually afraid of, you have the power to remove that fear. Many have conquered that fear by closing their eyes and braving the adventure, only to step off the coaster and scream, “Let’s do that again!”
Do you feel stuck in your job? Do you feel you will never get any further in your career than where you are right now? Is it affecting your overall mood and behavior? It doesn’t have to. There is truly nothing stopping you from looking elsewhere. Don’t use excuses such as, “The economy is bad; there’s nothing out there,” “I don’t have a degree,” etc. People are hired daily in every profession, even without a degree. My husband is working in the high paying field of computer software design. He decided it was what he wanted and would love to do. He went out, purchased programming books and taught himself several different computer programming languages and was awarded the job based on the knowledge he was able to display and convey to the interviewer. Believe it can be you and take action toward making it happen with whatever it is that makes you happy. Don’t stop trying if you do not get the first job you interview for or if you do not reach your goal right away. I’m obviously not suggesting that you quit the job you have if you are unhappy. What I’m saying is that you could start your quest for happiness in another job or career by taking steps toward getting a different job while making money with the job you currently have. You have the power to conquer your fear.
Some fears are rational. They keep us safe from doing things that would otherwise injure us. They keep us alert as we walk alone to our car in a poorly lit parking lot. That same fear allows us to stay alert and ready to face a dangerous situation.
The type of fear I am addressing here is irrational fear. The emotions that stop you from experiencing something because you are afraid of how it will make you feel. These feelings start in the mind. We speak them to ourselves silently, over and over. We believe our subconscious and in order to protect ourselves we avoid the very thing, that if we just did it, could enable us to conquer that fear and lead to an amazing number of possibilities.
Ways of Acquiring Fear
There are many types of fear and many ways we acquire them. We are not born with it, it is something we learn and hold onto as we experience life. Recognizing and coming to terms with this can help you evaluate if your fear is even valid and possibly help you move past it.
  1. Fears Adopted from Others – Some fears are adopted from the fears our parents, siblings or relatives had and some are adopted when we read about the failures, emotional pain or injuries acquired by others. Those fears are not your own and it is important to recognize that. What happened to other people may never happen to you. It is also never possible to know the exact experiences of another person that have created that fear. 
  2. Fears Based on Lies – Fear can be based on lies. I remember when I was young someone told me that dragonflies had the ability to sew your mouth closed and they knew someone it happened to. I believed that lie and was, for the longest time, extremely scared of dragonflies.
    Friends and acquaintances may lie to us as well and tell us that what we have set out to accomplish is a goal that is unobtainable at our skill level. Again, always a lie. You have the power to achieve whatever you set your mind to as long as you believe.
    It is important to decipher for ourselves what fears are rational and which are not.
  1. Fear Through Experience – There are fears that we have discovered through our own experiences. Perhaps we made a judgment based on one event or a series of events and assumed that the same results would happen again if we tried. Success may be lurking around the corner but we would never find it without lack of fear.
    Fear can also manifest when we experience an event and determine that the feeling derived from it is worse than the benefits the event’s possible positives could have brought you. For instance, imagine trying to accomplish something that you’ve always wanted to do but every time you try you don’t reach your goal. Personal rejection may set in or fear of failure. You may determine that the negative feelings you receive from that are too much for you to handle.
Overcoming Fear
What if you kept trying? What if you didn’t listen to that fear? What if you decided not to let yourself feel it? What if you could overcome it? How far could you go?
If Thomas Edison had feared failure he would have never have invented the light bulb. His “failures” were numbered at over 10,000. If he had believed he was a failure it may have stopped him. Instead, after the invention finally worked he stated that he had never actually failed, he had only discovered all the ways the light bulb would not work. What a brilliant perception! If he had not felt that way, we may still be sitting in the dark. One of Thomas Edison’s famous quotes was, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
  1. Identify Your Fear’s Origin and Validity – Identify one of your fears that is stopping you from doing something you’ve always wanted to do. Evaluate that fear and question whether or not it stems from your past and if it’s even a valid fear in your present. Your fear may be outdated and no longer serving its purpose, in which case you need to eliminate it and move on to reach that goal that you are destined to accomplish.
  2. Change Your Perception – Fear is a matter of perception. By changing your perception, the way you look at the situation, you may find that fear is not necessary, in fact, you may see how it is holding you back.
    Imagine yourself accomplishing your goal and the triumph you would feel when you succeeded. It would outweigh any feelings of failure and fear of accomplishment and enable you to push yourself farther to let you accomplish more by setting new goals. Knowing you accomplished the first mission, failing along the way, you would realize that your next failure is only a stepping block to feeling that triumph again when you meet or exceed the next objective. This concept can basically be applied to any type of goal; weight loss, exercise, getting a job you desperately desire, starting a new money-making hobby or venture, finishing a marathon, the list goes on.
    If someone else has accomplished it, so can you. It may require more effort than that person but if someone has done it, it can be done again. It just comes down to how badly you want it, whether you are willing to believe in yourself and how much effort you are willing to put into it.
  3. A Positive Cancels a Negative – Change what you are saying to yourself. For instance, if you are telling yourself that you are not good enough, state that you are. If you hear yourself saying that you are not smart enough, stop believing that and do some research if necessary to educate yourself on the subject. Are you afraid of failure? You must discard all negative thoughts associated with the fear and decide that whatever someone else tells you, only you can decide what to believe. Believe you can!
    Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, only more intelligently.”
  4. Use Affirmations, Believe in Yourself – If you want to overcome your fear you must decide that you believe in yourself. This often takes more work than just reading an article. This work takes time. You must focus your energy on and spend a great deal of time in that belief state in order to make this happen. Using affirmations, written statements of belief and putting them where you can read them aloud twice daily will set you in the right direction for this.
Don’t let fear stop you from enjoying a fulfilled life and accomplishing your dreams. Discover what is stopping you or choose not to think about the fear. Take action and move forward. Adopt a new motto, “Giving up is not an option. I want this and will accomplish it not matter how many times I have to try without success.” You will amaze yourself with the end results. You must believe in the strength inside you. Do not believe the opinions of others who doubt you. They will be the first ones praising you silently when you succeed.
If you feel this has or will help you. Please feel free to print it out and post it somewhere for future reference.
What action will you take now that you have the tools above to conquer your fear? What are some goals you will set now that you know you can accomplish your dreams? Please share below.

Overcoming Fear Part 1 – Heart Versus Mind

This is part 1 in a 2-part series on Fear. Today I’d like to share with you a fear of mine and the story of how I overcame it and went on to accomplish something I thought I never could. Tomorrow’s post will include tips on how to overcome your own fears. Please check back in for that.
I would say that my biggest fear is a fear of failure. I don’t like how I feel when I don’t meet my own expectations or the expectations of others. I’ve always been my own worst critic. In the past, if I didn’t meet my expectations I would beat myself up over it and sometimes go as far as to end up in a depression.
I have always considered myself a writer. I started writing poetry about the age of 15, sharing them over the years with anyone who would read them. I had some disappointment from time to time but almost everyone I shared them with strengthened my beliefs that I was a great writer.

I eventually gained enough confidence to send my poems off to a great number of poetry contests and publishers and received an almost equal number of rejection letters. The rejection was devastating. I stopped sharing my poetry as often because I started to believe that even those who supported me in the past would start to reject my efforts as did the professionals who were reviewing them. I didn’t want to feel like I was not good at something I loved so much. I took the rejections personally and I let the pain of it get to me. Over time, I stopped writing. I feared those feelings and did not want to revisit them.
When my children were young teens I found that binder of collected poems that I had written since I was a teen and tried typing them in to save them so I could share them with my children and one day, my grandchildren. I would get approximately 10 poems entered into the computer and just stop. I didn’t feel that it was worth it. I did not have enough faith in myself to believe that anyone would even care to read them. I started having the feelings I felt after I received those rejection letters. I put the binder away as well as my desire to see them published. I decided that without the desire, there would be no pain.
A few years later the binder showed up in my son’s room. I’m not sure if he had been reading them or not. The vision came again so clearly, as if a force was pushing me. I thought I’d try to type them in again. I would envision having them all typed in and submitting them to a publisher, waiting several months to receive a rejection letter and have to start all over again. Those thoughts stopped me in my tracks.
One night, about a year ago, I made last minute plans with a friend to go out to dinner. We sat across from each other and talked for more than an hour and half about everything, just getting caught up. One thing she mentioned was her friend’s accomplishment in one of her college courses. Her friend had been going for her degree for business in preparation to open her own bakery. One of the class assignments was to create a manual to submit to a bank to obtain financing. My friend had helped her by having it printed and bound. The wheels started turning. I felt everything from envy to desire to accomplish this myself.
Stephanie showed me the book. I felt extreme pride for the woman I barely knew who had created it. It was in that moment I decided that no matter what it took, I would see those poems in print. My parents, children and generations to come would see them in print. Enough was enough. I was going to conquer this fear that no longer served a purpose for me.
Every spare moment for the next several days was spent searching the internet for a website where I could self-publish my poetry book. Once I found the perfect website, the fear kicked in again. “What if I can’t do this? I’ve tried so many times to get this done and have never been able to. I don’t want to feel that disappointment again.” I had a couple days of doubt but did not lose my desire. I had dreams at night about finishing it this time.
My thoughts were so focused on accomplishing this. It seemed to take up a great deal of space in my mind each day. I kept seeing that book in my hand, fully printed and sharing it with people I cared about.
One day, on the way to work I realized the perfect way to get the poems entered quickly. I would speak them as a voice message on my phone as a text and send it to my e-mail. This would save a great deal of time compared to typing them into the computer.
I spent my lunch hours for about a week and a half in my car reading all 90 poems aloud into my phone. In no time I had my ISBN from Lulu.com, the poems were entered, formatted and edited. I couldn’t stop. As soon as those old fears of failure kicked in, I shut them out and went to work, all the while keeping the idea of that finished product in my head. I finished with the creation of the cover.
A few weeks later I received my first copies of the beautiful book I had written. Friends bought them to kick it off and that book is now available to the public at Amazon.com. I called it, “Heart Versus Mind: Words That Touch Your Heart.”
I have not yet seen the success I have defined in my head but it has not stopped me. I realized that I needed to conquer that fear in order to move forward. I have renewed my confidence in my writing and, here we are today with you reading the results of that conquered fear of failure in my new blog. There are several other book titles I have in mind and will write and now I know that I can accomplish it.
I beat that fear by telling myself that if someone else accomplished it, I could too, and I would. I decided to believe in myself and dig deep to keep the confidence. I was fortunate to have support from many friends. As I was in the preparation stages I shared my excitement on FaceBook and it became contagious. I have never felt so alive.
Imagine what you could accomplish if you removed a fear of yours and started to believe in yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to believe in you. Sure, it’s a great feeling but don’t wait for other people’s approval. It’s up to you. It’s your accomplishment, not theirs. You are the one who will reap the benefits of the positive emotions your success will provide.
Do you have fears that you have overcome? Once you did, did you find the confidence to go on to accomplish other things? Please feel free to share them below.
Tomorrow’s post will offer some tips on how to conquer your fears. I hope you will come back to check it out. It is already written and I can tell you with confidence that it will inspire you to reconsider your fears and start moving forward without them.

10 Ways to Improve Your Self Image

When Ashley Monroe from my home town was 16, she recognized the need to do something drastic.  She was tired of hearing everyone in her high school putting themselves down.  She wrote, “You’re Beautiful” on 1,986 sticky notes and placed them on every locker to make a statement.  My son was one of the recipients of these notes and was very touched by it.  Many of those students had gotten into a place where they were putting themselves down initially for attention but after a while, started to believe what they were saying about themselves.

It’s a shame that so many of us see ourselves in a negative light.  I have spoken with so many people who are told they are beautiful but still choose to not believe it.  We are so busy criticizing ourselves and assuming what others are thinking about us and worrying about them judging us that we do not take the time to appreciate the good things about ourselves.

Back In Time

Let’s stroll back in time and take a look at some of the things you remember being told about yourself.  Did people point out what they thought were your physical imperfections?  Did they tell you that you were not good enough at something you really wanted to do?  Did someone simply just have a way of berating you and making you feel “less-than?”  Or were you the culprit, keeping yourself down with negative self talk? You may have chosen to believe it simply because it was said or you heard it in your own voice. You may have even trusted the person it came from.

We also watch what others do and are capable of and we compare our best to theirs and if we don’t match that in our own eyes, instead of working harder, putting in the time and focusing on just improving where we start from, we lie to ourselves.  We say that we are not good enough to compete with them.  The thing is, often times we don’t stop there.  Those thoughts start reminding us of all the ways we did not measure up in our own minds and we end up believing that we just aren’t good enough, period.  This sets us up for all kinds of future issues.  Have you ever caught yourself doing this?

What you may not have realized was that you actually had the choice to hold on to it or discard it.  We also have the choice to believe that when it comes to competing, we should only compete with ourselves.  We all have our own starting points and should compare ourselves only to our most recent best.

Making the Change

Are you ready to put all of this behind you?  Only you have the power.  It may seem unnatural at first because of what you are used to, but if you make the following steps a habit, you will guarantee yourself some freedom from that negativity you keep hearing inside your own head.

1.  You must stop listening to other people’s negativity.  If someone has something to say to you that is negative, dismiss it immediately.  Do not get defensive and argue about it with someone because adding emotion to the situation causes the memories and the pain of it to last longer.  Remember that some people are just insecure or angry and lash out at other people without regard for their feelings.  Often times it comes from insecurity and is not the truth.

2.  Always be aware of your thoughts.  Pay close attention to what you hear yourself saying inside your own head.  Follow the above instructions by dismissing the negative immediately.

3.  Question what you once thought was truth.  Realize that the only things that are actually true are things you decide to believe.

4.  Make a change only under your own terms.  For instance, if someone comments negatively about your weight, whether the scale reflects what they say or not, never make the change based on their comments.  Only make changes for yourself.  If you are not ready for the change and do something to make a statement based on someone else’s judgment, any results you experience will not be lasting.

5.  Call the person out on it if you are comfortable.  State the opposite aloud.  If someone tells you that you’re hair looks terrible, thank them and tell them that it wasn’t them you were trying to impress and that you happen to like it that way.  Do not let them have power over your thoughts.

6.  Affirm the opposite.  In correlation with number 5, use a positive statement to counteract what someone has said or what you are saying in your head, such as, instead of, “I look fat in this dress,” use, “I look amazing in this dress.  I am so glad I made the choice to wear it today,” and BELIEVE that statement.  Affirming the positive will lessen the chances of the negative sticking in your head.  Creating any kind of affirmation and repeating it on a daily basis to counteract something you feel you are stuck on and posting where you can repeat it aloud before bed and in the morning is a very efficient way to create change.

7.  Eliminate past judgments.  For the old tapes we play in our head that were perhaps from ourselves, our parents, siblings, friends or relatives years ago, discard the tape or tape over it.  Remind yourself that the person may have thought they were helping you in some way but in no way were they telling you the truth.

8.  Do the opposite. Perhaps you quit at something when you were young because you didn’t like it.  It does not make you a quitter.  Find something you like and stick with it and you will create a new positive label.

9.  Forgive.  It is important when trying to let something go that you forgive the person who you feel is responsible for placing a label or negative thought in your head but at the same time realize, only you have the power to believe what someone says about you.  It does not need to be your truth.

10. Simply relax and never, ever, take things personal.  This cannot be stressed enough.  So many things are said carelessly by others and once out of their mouths they have forgotten what they even said.  By taking something personal you are not only assuming how it was meant but you set yourself up to hold onto that negative.  Feel free to ask questions as to why the person said what they did.  Having clarification may help you to understand it was not meant as a personal attack.

Feel free to print these steps out and place them on your fridge or bathroom mirror where you can be reminded of them on a regular basis.

Taking these steps will hopefully start you in the right direction of starting to see yourself in a much kinder light and lead you toward a greater inner peace and happiness. This will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may feel when you are out amongst others.  Not everyone is judging you.  Most people who do not know you will look at you and look away without a second thought.  Those who interact with you, if they are a person of integrity, will see you for who you are through your personality.

One of my favorite quotes is from Bernard Burach which states, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”  Keep this quote in mind when faced with the judgment of others.

Please discuss below ways you would recommend for other people to help them see themselves in a better light.

(For additional tips, advice, videos and inspirations to increase your inner peace and happiness please see more posts and categories to the right.  If you found this helpful, please share on Facebook or Twitter. You may sign up to follow by e-mail by clicking the Follow button at the top or bottom or through other options located on the right hand side of the page.  I appreciate you stopping by! )