Self-observation can be a great use of your time if it leads to positive things and not into self-flagellation.
I’ve spent a significant portion of my working life guiding people through self-observation. In that time, I have discovered far too many people on the edge of a breakthrough in their personal life, their relationships, or their business but who squander the opportunity by over-focusing on self-doubt and fear. The thing that surprises me to this day is that many times they are completely unaware of how their self-talk defeats them. Here is how it usually happens. People say they want something very badly, that they want to change, and theoretically, they would do almost anything to make the change and get what they want.
But when it comes time to turn the key, to take the step, it is an entirely different story. For many, when it is time to take action, they get cold feet and either pause or back out and fail to do what they need to do to get the results they want. Why? The usual suspect is the inner self-doubting voice that has them questioning every move they make in experiencing the changes they want to engage.
Would you like to learn practical, concrete ways to push back fear? Here are four methods you can implement to press fear back.
1. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
My wife Angie is no fan of heights. She would do almost anything legally to avoid heights. However, my wife is a strong woman who does not like to admit defeat. She is involved with an excellent direct service company called Premier Designs Jewelry, and in the year of her sixtieth birthday, she had qualified for a free Caribbean cruise.
One evening, as we were preparing for the journey and looking at different adventures and excursions, she said, “I want to go tandem parasailing at Grand Cayman.” I was surprised and yet readily agreed. She went on to say, “I know I need to take action to push back the fear, so let’s do this. I am also going to tell some of my close girlfriends what my plan is. That way, I will have positive peer pressure that will hopefully keep me from chickening out.”
The day came, and with tons of encouragement, we hopped on the boat and headed out. After watching some other couples take the ride, it was our turn. The air was warm; the breeze was gentle as we slipped into the harness. Within a few seconds, we were gently lifted off the deck, and the winch began to unwind. After a minute or two, we were soaring 400 feet above the water. As we floated, talked, and took it all in, it was inspiring to see the radiance in Angie’s face as we looked down on our cruise ship from our airy, highly-harnessed perch in our parasail.
When we landed on the deck of the boat, a couple of our friends gave Angie hugs and high-fives. When all of us returned to the ship that evening, Angie’s accountability partners and friends were overjoyed at what she had done and listened intently to her story.
When you feel the fear, call it what it is, and face it, friends will come alongside to pray with you, encourage you, and walk with you.
All of us experience fear from time to time. What separates people who discover success in their lives and those who give permission for fear to hold them back is the willingness to act in spite of the fear.
2. Make no apologies—no excuses.
As a young cadet at Georgia Military College in the late 60’s, I came under the influence of a seasoned warrior, Command Sergeant Major Scott, one of our military instructors. He was quite a character, soft-spoken but a veteran of WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Dominican Republic Action, and two tours in Viet Nam. When he spoke, everybody listened because of the respect we had for this leader. He was full of pithy quotes, and one I remember to this day is: “Men if you are looking for an excuse, anyone will do. Just remember you are accountable for the decisions you make.” I have to admit, as a young man, it didn’t make much sense at the time, but over the years, I have come to appreciate the wisdom he shared.
While some call them “reasons,” people stop themselves all the time using rationalizations and excuses. The top reasons, particularly in the direct sales business, go something like this: “I don’t have time;” I don’t know anybody;” My friends and I are too busy.” This list goes on.
As Command Sergeant Major Scott said, “When looking for an excuse, anyone will do.”
People will use excuses like a trap door or an ejection seat—an escape usually based on self-doubt.
One of the ways to have more of what you want and what God wants in your life is to push back fear and self-doubt. To do this, you will need to hone the skill of developing a “no excuses” approach.
So, how bad do you want to change? You can either have “reasons” or life-changing results. The choice is always yours.
3. Be willing to move outside of your comfort zone.
I have to admit, I honestly admire the wild success of Taylor Swift, but I would never want to be a former boyfriend. In an interview a couple of years ago she was asked about another famous singer who consistently pushed her comfort zone.
Swift said, “One element of Madonna’s career that really takes center stage is how many times she’s reinvented herself. It is easier to stay in one look, one comfort zone, one musical style. It is exciting to me to see someone whose only predictable quality is being unpredictable.”
Here are some other quotes that will help you think about this:
“You have people come into your life shockingly and surprisingly. You have losses you never thought you’d experience. You have rejection, and you have to learn how to deal with that and how to get up the next day and go on with it.”
“I think fearless is having fears but jumping anyway.”
“I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone. You have so much incredible potential on the inside. God has put gifts and talents in you (that) you probably don’t know anything about.”
“It’s when you begin to think about going to your dream that your dream is always outside your comfort zone. It is always just beyond what you have ever done.”
Adventurer Bear Grylls:
“Adventure should be 80 percent ‘I think it is manageable,’ but it’s good to have 20 percent where you are just outside of your comfort zone. Still safe, but outside your comfort zone.”
Let’s face it, most of us avoid discomfort with a passion. If you want to progress in your personal life, your relationships, and your business, you will have to become more familiar with being out of your comfort zone—for a short time. Will it be scary? Yes, but it will not kill you, and it may even make you a better person.
The key question is—are you willing to exchange short-term discomfort for a better life, richer relationships, and a more successful enterprise? If the answer is yes, are you willing to push back the self-doubt and move beyond your comfort zone?
Yes? Here is some great news: blessing, joy, and opportunities will increase. So get ready!
4. Just do it!
The biggest difference between daydreaming and having a big dream in action!
Wishful thinking will never get you there. You must engage, take a risk, lean into the self-doubt and fear.
You have to “rise from the doubts and fears and walk.” This is the place where the phrase “If it is to be, it is up to me,” kicks in. This is the “grown-up” location where you declare to yourself that you are solely responsible for your life, and you accept the fact you cannot blame others for the choices you have made. Time and time again, this is the place where our negative self-talk, which fuels self-doubt and fear, causes us to question everything and keeps us from taking action. I call it decision constipation. This fear and self-doubt are at the bottom of self-sabotage.
Getting a higher and wider vantage point around moving forward with your life starts with a decision. Once you have made that decision, it is time to get down to work and make it happen.
My pastor, Todd Cook, of Sagebrush Community Church in Albuquerque recently introduced a song by Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, in his introduction he shared the following story.
Scott recently had to carry a tough burden of her own, having experienced a miscarriage. As a result of working through the pain of the loss, she made peace with it in the months ahead and penned the poignant tune, “Thy Will.” The song appears on a gospel album she recorded with her family called Love Remains, which was released in July 2016.
This was not Hillary Scott’s first challenge.
Did you know that before she joined Lady Antebellum, she auditioned twice for American Idol but failed to make it to the judges’ round? After those two failed attempts she, along with Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, founded Lady Antebellum and the rest is chart-making history.
Grit, tenacity, resilience, no matter how you label it you can choose to move through fear and become a more intentional, purpose-filled person. The key? Have a Why and a Dream that is more powerful than your fears.
Here is a piece of ancient literature that will comfort you.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NLT
I think this song by Zach Williams says it all.
Quit living in denial, acknowledge your fear, and with God’s help move through it.