If you want to achieve your dreams, one thing you can expect along the way is: your hidden fears will spring up like weeds.
There are two things to keep in mind when this happens. The first comes from Judy Blume and it’s this:
“How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives.”
The second comes from Jack Canfield, who once said:
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
These are true for you, and for me, and for everyone. If you’re stuck on this side of your dreams or life goals, the answer is simple, but hard.
You have to pull out your fears, take a good look at them, and then you have to go through them.
What Is It We’re Afraid Of?
In moments when fear gets the best of you, what is it exactly that you’re avoiding?
What you’re avoiding is feeling unpleasant.
You’re not alone. You do this, I do this, everyone does this to varying degrees.
In a recent Medium post, author and coach, Benjamin Hardy, makes a list of the most common unpleasant feelings we relentlessly avoid, and in doing so, keep us from living the kind of life we dream about. Here are a few:
- impostor syndrome
- being wrong
- looking stupid
Hardy goes on to point out the ironic catch-22:
“These are the feelings that accompany a life of success. And yet, these are the very feelings you relentlessly avoid!”
To bypass this circle of disappointment, here’s what you do:
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
When you’re stuck inside your fear, your disappointment, your anxiety, there is no getting around them.
You have to go through them.
The Choice We Have About Pain
Self-made man, and entrepreneur Jim Rohn, once put it this way:
“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.”
This is a hard truth.
But it’s too important to ignore.
A good illustration of why comes from Bronnie Ware. She was a palliative nurse living in Australia and her job was to care for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.
She began asking them questions about their lives and writing about it. One of things she asked was if they had any regrets about their life or if they would do anything differently.
A common theme began to surface repeatedly concerning regret, and here’s what it was:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
The Guardian article about Ware’s experience expounded on it more saying,
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”
It’s painful when we go after our dream, or worthy achievement, only to smack into obstacles and experience resistance from all sides.
We flounder and we fall and we fail, and it hurts bad.
But consider you’re at the end of your life and you hadn’t done the thing you felt you were here to do.
Imagine you’d given up because there was some pushback, or it got too difficult, or maybe you thought it was impossible.
At the end of your life, how would you feel?
The pain of regret.
Regret with enough force to crush a small elephant, or your human heart.
Looking stupid? That’s not so bad.
Being wrong? That’s not so bad.
Awkardness? That’s not so bad.
Ignorance? Not so bad.
Realizing you hadn’t done the thing you felt you were here on earth to do, just before death comes?
That’s the real pain to avoid. That’s the real thing to be afraid of.
You only get this one life.
Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Accepting that you will encounter obstacles and resistance along the path to realizing your life goals allows you to reset your expectations, and even better, allows you to plan for them.
When you encounter obstacles and resistance you have to do things you haven’t done before, and you begin to stretch and grow in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise.
You become stronger and more capable as a result. Soon, the things that used to hang you up, no longer do. This is the point–and very essence of empowerment.
One ways to get stronger, faster, is to do something uncomfortable everyday. You can start with small things like a difficult conversation, uncomfortable business phonecalls, or take a cold shower
Coach and entrepreneur Tony Robbins starts his day by plunging into a 57-degree Fahrenheit pool of water.
Not only will it wake you up for the day, but research has shown that cold water immersion actually boosts your happiness levels because it triggers tons of mood-boosting neurotransmitters.
The point here is, practicing discomfort daily builds up your tolerance muscle, so when those obstacles come, they don’t take you out. By taking ownership, encountering unpleasant things is less scary, and also takes some of the sting out of it.
If you’re stuck inside your fear, Robert Frost’s timeless advice points the way:
“The only way out is through.”
Go through your fear.
Start doing the thing you’re here to do.
Stop avoiding unpleasant things.
Embrace difficulty and grow.
You have something to do and it’s important that you start doing it.
There are people you will meet, once you do, and you will help them.
They’re waiting for you.