Your Fears Are Holding You Back

Your Fears Are Holding You Back

What are you afraid of?

I’ll give you a moment here to think of the things that scare you—maybe spiders, or heights, or being in the dark, or dying. (One of my biggest fears is falling, usually brought on by airplane turbulence, if that makes you feel any better.) Got it? Now toss that out, because of course we both know that’s not what I’m talking about.

What are you really afraid of?

You probably clicked on the link to this post because on some level, you feel unsatisfied with your life. Maybe you’re unhappy with your current job. Maybe you feel like your life is mostly satisfactory, but you’re stuck in a rut that you need to break out of. Maybe your life is great, but you still have a sense that there’s still something more out there that will bring you fulfillment.

Now I’ll give you a moment to think about the things you would like to do with your life—the dreams and goals you’ve accumulated over your lifetime but haven’t achieved. These could be dream careers, like performing on stage or owning a Fortune 500 company, or they could be one-time goals, like summiting Mount Everest or taking a cross-country road trip. All of these are achievable goals; in theory, anyone can learn to play an instrument, manage a business, or climb a mountain. So why haven’t you achieved them? What’s holding you back?

I’m no psychologist, and I’m definitely no mind-reader, but I do have an educated guess that answers that question: Fear. All of us have fears that overshadow and outweigh our dreams. These might be fears of failure, of losing relationships, or of regression. For the most part, we avoid those fears, shove them back and pack them away where we don’t have to look at them. Sometimes we may not even be aware that we have them. But these fears obstruct us and keep us from achieving our dreams.

As for me, I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid of outright rejection, of being judged and found wanting, of not being good enough, or not being as good as someone else. I’m afraid of feeling crushingly disappointed. I’m afraid of having to work hard at something to the point that I start to hate it. I’m afraid of getting bored or frustrated by something that I normally love to do.

The good news is that none of my fears are insurmountable. By knowing what our roadblocks are, we can plan how to avoid the things we fear—and how to survive them if we can’t avoid them. Try it for yourself. Take another look at your unfulfilled dreams and goals, and ask yourself three questions:

  1. What’s the worst that could happen?
  2. How do I avoid that?
  3. What do I do if I can’t avoid it?

The funny thing about this exercise is that by giving a name to your fears, they start to become less frightening. Often we get to the first question—what’s the worst that could happen?—and stop there. But by brainstorming solutions to a potential problem, we give ourselves the tools to overcome it. Examining our fears gives us the power to conquer them.

I’m tempted to end by asking you a question you’ve probably heard before: What would you attempt do if you knew you could not fail? But that’s not realistic, and really, it’s not the point. So instead, I’ll leave you with this:

What would you attempt to do if you knew that you could fail?

Posted by Calligraphie, 0 comments
Why Personal Reflection Is Worth the Discomfort

Why Personal Reflection Is Worth the Discomfort

The beginning of a new year often brings ample opportunity for reflection on the previous year and one’s goals for the upcoming year. But how many of us actively take that opportunity when it’s presented?

Between the New Year, the beginning of a new quarter for Protagonist, and the start of my final semester in college, I’ve been given the opportunity this year to take a restock of where my life is at. Previously, I’ve been content to watch such opportunities sail by—if I even noticed them at all. This year, I won’t have that option. I’ve already spent some time creating the outline of a vision for the upcoming year, à la Andy Drish, but that’s only the beginning. Both my courses this semester focus on reflection: a philosophy course on the meaning of life, and my capstone for my major, in which I will reflect on my education, my place in the world, and my future goals.

Normally I’m the sort to shy away from all this new-agey, introspective, reflecting-and-visioning stuff. It’s uncomfortable. If I start reflecting on the past, that means looking back not only on my successes, but also on my mistakes and my low points—and as someone who struggles with depression and PTSD, I find that frankly a bit scary. It’s so much easier to let sleeping dogs lie, and keep plugging along as usual. So what makes the reflection worth the discomfort?

As my philosophy professor put it, “A good life doesn’t happen by accident.” Any sort of meaning in life must be intentional, or else it isn’t meaningful. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Live like there’s no tomorrow.” It’s inspirational, and it sounds great, but few of us immediately quit our jobs and start knocking things off our bucket lists.

No, the harder part is to live like you have forever. What if you knew for a fact you were going to live to be over a hundred years old? How would you want to spend all that time? You have the option to tread water, going through life just keeping your head above water without going anywhere, or you can pick a direction and start swimming. And to pick the best direction, to figure out where you want to go, you must first recognize where you came from and where you currently are.

Thanks to Mr. Drish, I have the beginnings of a plan for 2018 that, if I follow it to its conclusion, will help me establish myself in a place where I want to be, pursuing a career and lifestyle that will bring me pleasure and pride. With the help of my two classes, and with continued reflection, I hope to flesh out that plan and make my dream even more achievable.

Learning can be uncomfortable; learning about ourselves, doubly so. To learn more about ourselves, we have to confront our fears and insecurities, but we can’t learn from our past if we don’t tackle that discomfort. And once we have, we are empowered to create a meaningful, good future.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
     — The Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune

Posted by Calligraphie in Reflections, 0 comments