6 Ways Fear is Holding You Back

 

Too many of us are not living our dreams

because we are living our fears. 

Les Brown.

 

Fear serves one—and only one—purpose: to keep you alive. In its most basic, primal form, it is nothing more than a survival response. Fear can be a good thing. It is a profound biological instinct that can prevent us from doing crazy things that could kill us. For example, if you are working in your backyard and see a snake slithering into hedges next to your house—well, let’s put it this way—I doubt you are feeling peaceful and calm.

Fear can produce positive energy that moves us forward, help us make a life change, and gives us a new perspective. Unfortunately, while fear can protect us from pain and harm, fear is not always rational and healthy.

God didn’t create us to live our lives in fear. He created us to live with power, love, and a sound mind, as in courage

I love the way the Amplified Bible translates 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, craven and clinging, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and love and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”

Let’s look at what fear does to us and in us:

First, irrational fear is a very primal, gut function. It is a basic low-level brain function. While fear can become disarming and lead to self-inflicted sabotage, it can be overcome. When we take time to think through our fears, we usually discover that those concerns are rooted in irrational thoughts.

Second, fear can make us cowards. We, humans, tend to frame our fears in ways that soothe our egos. You and I will say something like, “I am prudent and cautious.” We might even say, “I am a little nervous.” Or we say, “It’s not that important.”

Here is a huge life tip:

If you want to start overcoming those irrational fears that keep you bound, you are going to have to call it what it is.

Instead of saying, “I am not doing this because it makes me nervous,” try saying, “I am not going to do this because I am a coward, and I am scared spitless.” You will be amazed when you tell yourself the truth—aloud. at is the beginning of calling it what it is. Trust me—this is a starting point.

Third, fear steals our integrity. It makes us hypocritical. Simply stated, integrity means acting in a way wholly congruent with our values and beliefs. When we want to do something and believe it is the correct thing to do, but we fail to do it because of fear, we violate our core values. Living a “True North” life means living in alignment with our principles.

The first time I heard the term “True North” was while I was in the Army. It is a term used in map and compass training which differentiates the True North from Magnetic North difference on a topographical map. Steven Covey borrowed this term and turned it into a metaphor about our bottom line personal ethics—the line we are unwilling to cross based on those ethics. Therefore, when you and I are faced, as we often are in this di cult life, with the question of what direction to take, we need to refer to our true north for direction. Metaphorically: Do I “cross” my personal line? (Lie, cheat, steal, be disloyal to a loved one, hit or be abusive physically or verbally, etc.). Never lose sight of your true north.

Fourth, fear leaves lament and regret in its wake. You and I have made, and will continue to make, missteps and mistakes. The key is: Will we repeat the same screw ups again and again or will we learn from them and make the necessary adjustments to change the outcome? If you and I allow fear to keep us from seizing an opportunity when it comes our way, then that is nobody’s fault but our own. Instead, we can trust that when the Lord brings us an opportunity, He will give us what we need to move towards it. But we have to get out of the boat.

Fifth, when we give in to fear, we give up control; we step away from the steering wheel, which could be deadly. You see—the Lord has given us life and choices. While He will guide us, He will not do the work for us. When we are ruled by fear, we abdicate our responsibility. at is not a good thing. You are the only one responsible for your life, no one else. At the end of this race, you and I will give an account. I want to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:23 NLT

Sixth, fear stifles personal growth. There seems to be a universal principle in nature: You are either getting better—ripening, or you are ripe and ready to meet your full potential, or you are rotting.

So, let me ask you a question. Are you ripening, ready to pick, or rotting on the vine.

Today, you have a choice. You can choose to stay stuck, or you can choose to move forward.

In a couple of day,s I will show you some practical ways to overcome fear.

Action Plan

Purchase my new book, The No Fear Entrepreneur, an Amazon #1 Best Seller.

Seven Secrets to Building Resilience in Your Marriage

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 Resilience is the ability to resist the manifestations of clinical distress, impairment or dysfunctions that are often associated with critical incidents and personal trauma.
Dr. George Everly, Psychological Body Armor.”Last week Sara got so mad she threw her shoe at me. It missed my head by about three inches!” Larry said.”At the time I thought he deserved it,” Sara admitted. “But the fact that I could do that really scares me! I feel as if our marriage is in serious trouble.”While not every couple throws shoes—or anything else—that sense of uncontrollable anger is not uncommon for many couples regardless of creed, ethnicity, or social status. Unfortunately, some feel that the heightened level of emotion is the beginning of the end of their relationship.

In my more than 35 years of counseling and  45 years of married life, I’ve observed that how couples respond to an event such as Sara’s shoe-throwing can help them develop resilience, the ability to bounce back or recover quickly from change, misfortune, and unmet expectations.

As we explored their past ten years together, I knew that even though they were now in a difficult season, Larry and Sara had built resilience into their marriage. To create a resilient marriage, your commitment to the relationship must be stronger than your history, mood, or situation. Couples who are resilient have these seven qualities in common.

1. Resilient couples don’t fall prey to misconceptions about marriage. 

One thing that can damage our resilience is the mistaken notion that a good marriage equals a calm and peaceful one. In the ten years, Larry and Sara had been married, five jobs, one miscarriage, five harsh financial seasons, four moves, and two adventure-filled boys had taken their toll. Not to mention the fact that they came from two different family styles: Sara’s parents were divorced. Her dad had cheated on her mom multiple times, and then abandoned the family when she was ten. Larry, on the other hand, grew up in an intact family—his parents are still together more than 40 years later.

As we talked, Larry nailed one of the great Christian misconceptions about marriage: “We had no idea how difficult marriage would be. If you listen to people at our church talk about their marriages, it would be easy to believe nobody has been through what we’ve experienced.”

It amazes me that in this day when marriage ministries and materials are so prevalent, couples still believe a great relationship will be a peaceful one. They often feel invincible, especially in the early stages of marriage. This can lead them to deny the impact of stress and family history.

Many couples mistakenly think that loving each other means always getting along. But conflict is an inescapable part of marriage if the couple expects their relationship to grow and mature.

2. Resilient couples find help when they need it.

Many couples “go it” alone—trying to deal with their issues without getting outside help from a trusted source who can offer biblical encouragement, guidance, and support. Those are typically the couples who end up with broken relationships.

Larry and Sara had always been involved in small church groups, which had been invaluable sources of strength when difficult circumstances such as miscarriage and job loss came along. But when they felt more “out of control,” such as Sara’s shoe throwing, they knew it was a signal to seek professional help.

3. Resilient couples remember the good things about their marriage and each other.

“He’s a good father to our boys,” Sara mentioned when I asked them to list each other’s good qualities. “And he’s patient. He puts up with my quirks.”

“I love how loyal and passionate she is,” Larry added. “Sometimes she goes overboard, but I know her heart’s in the right place.”

The longer we talked, the more relaxed they became. “We’re not quitters,” Sara said. “When I see how many of our friends have crashed and burned in their marriages, I’m glad we’ve hung in there.”

Larry looked embarrassed but said, “We had no idea what we could endure as husband and wife. But we still love each other.”

Resilient couples choose to focus on the good as opposed to camping out on the bad.

4. Resilient couples accept the differences in their personalities, views, and ways of getting things done.

Sara entered marriage fearing the sharp conflict she’d watched her parents experience, while Larry came expecting the intimacy and commitment he’d seen his parents enjoy. For several years, they acted out based on the marriage models and communication styles they brought with them.

Sara tended to over-talk everything. Then if she felt Larry didn’t “get it,” she’d become angry. “When I try to talk to Larry,” she told me, “he always seems to run and hide. He’ll either collapse in the recliner and be sucked into the television, or he’ll retreat to the computer room. When he does that, I feel like going ballistic, and sometimes do.”

Larry responded, “She has an opinion about everything, and when I don’t engage in the conversation, she gets heated, so I retreat. Then she throws a shoe at me!”

Men and women really do have different needs.

For guys, we want to feel competent and needed. We want to feel respected. One friend of mine used to say, “Men are like dogs, they need three things: someone to feed them, play with them, and occasionally say, ‘Good boy.’”

I encouraged Sara to be more mindful before sharing an opinion. She also became intentional about giving Larry positive feedback on things he did around the house and with the boys. She even began to find herself being more sexually provocative with him.

For women, the key is to help her feel valued and cherished. If she feels her husband can love her the way she is, then she feels more secure. When a man listens to his wife, without trying to fix her, for instance, he’ll be amazed to see how she can engage him physically. Larry noticed that as he listened intently to Sara, she actually talked less. He even began to buy her flowers, knowing how much she appreciated the gesture.

Sara and Larry became more focused on their communication styles and began to senseless tension and more hope. Larry was choosing to stay connected and not withdraw, and Sara was trying to lower her intensity level.

“We’re not the same,” Sara mentioned. “And I’m starting to appreciate the fact that that can be a good thing.”

5. Resilient couples develop and maintain an internal locus (focus) of control rather than an external focus.

I asked Larry and Sara to recount some of the difficult times in their marriage and how they got through. They told me that six months into their marriage, Larry lost his job. It could have been devastating, especially since Sara’s part-time job didn’t bring in enough money to cover their bills. When many couples would take out their frustrations, fears, and worries on their spouse, Larry and Sara decided instead to focus on the possibilities.

“We knew we loved each other,” Sara said. “It wasn’t Larry’s fault he was downsized. We weren’t sure how it would work out, but we believed Larry would find a job and that God would lead us through this difficult time. And he did.”

“So what keeps you two together?” I finally asked them.

“I love him and want us to get better,” Sara told me.
Larry agreed. “We believe God can and will help us work things out, but it’s tough.” They both took their marriage vows seriously and didn’t want to become another statistic. They hoped to survive this rough time and were committed to the process.

6. Resilient couples manage their emotions.

Larry admitted to me that he can be a “control freak” at times. Sara, on the other hand, is a “free spirit.”

As the weeks went by, Larry and Sara started to focus on their personal responsibility for their portion of the relationship’s troubles and move forward.

After Sara’s fourth overdrawn check, Larry had had enough. Instead of blowing up or withdrawing from her, which had previously proved unsuccessful, Larry took another approach. He waited for a couple of days so he could calm down. Having a measure of control over his emotions, he could talk to her in a calm, rational way and they were able to resolve their money issues.

7. Resilient couples reinterpret past failures and use them as growing points instead of perennial negatives.

In other words, they look at past mistakes to make positive, life-changing applications.

Sara admitted she felt she had to punish Larry with angry outbursts to get him to do anything. As she worked on her side of the responsibility equation, she realized some of her anger was rooted in bitterness toward her dad. So Sara began to pay close attention to the things that could trigger her emotions. In the course of our counseling, she was able to see the hurts for what they were and began to come to terms with the damage. In the process, her feelings about Larry grew softer.

Both Sara and Larry let go of the old hurts and took active measures to reconnect. Larry is “staying in the room” when Sara is struggling. Sara is feeling more secure in her relationship with Larry as she sees the changes he’s making. They use the words, I was wrong. I’m sorry I hurt you. Will you forgive me?

In the six weeks, they were in counseling with me, Larry and Sara were able to receive enough mercy and grace to forgive each other and make adjustments necessary to move forward
Today they report that shoes are no longer a weapon of choice, but something to wear.

Call to action:
Are you interested in getting help in your relationship?  Feel free to email me: john@johnthurman.net

Comments welcome.