One of the strongest feelings human beings have is fear. Whether it is fear of falling, of open spaces, of strangers, of ridicule, or of failure, fear defines our existence. Through fear, we learn to adapt our behavior, avoiding whatever it is that causes that uncomfortable feeling. Unfortunately, for too many of us, we let fear dictate our lives.
Fear of failing and fear of admitting errors paralyze our actions as surely as a tightening cord can strangle. If we have the courage to fail, and to openly admit our failures, we also open the opportunity to succeed.
How much effort does it take for us to hide what we have done wrong?
When we minimize the effort it takes to hide our imperfections, when we eliminate the shame or embarrassment we assign to our inevitable screw-ups, we free ourselves to move forward, to succeed beyond our wildest dreams. Do you know people who are so afraid of stepping outside their conventional and narrow comfort zone that they never accomplish anything? Maybe you are one of them.
1) How do you approach a difficulty? Is it a challenge or a threat?
2) Are you persistent in pursuit of set goals?
3) Do you focus on what you are trying to achieve?
4) Can you freely and realistically recognize the source of a failure?
5) Can you do it without blaming yourself or someone else?
6) Do you meet challenges with renewed vigor instead of shying away from them?
7) Do you recover quickly from a failure?
1) Do you fear a challenge since you are not sure of success?
2) Do you only half-heartedly commit to a goal to minimize losses?
3) Do you bail out quickly when it looks like something is not going to succeed?
4) Do you constantly evaluate your individual performance rather than keeping your eye on the accomplishment of the goal?
5) Do you look for all the things that could go wrong? (Remember, you have a better chance of hitting a target if you aim at it. Are you targeting success or failure?)
6) Do you chastise yourself for inadequacies? (Negative self-talk is a common crippler long after the voices of our teachers and our parents have ceased. Are you still playing those voices? Are you still criticizing yourself because you do it better than anyone else? Or so that you can ‘be the first’ in cutting yourself down?)
7) Do you recover slowly from a failure?
8) Do you whine to yourself, “That’s the way it always happens?”
Our effectiveness is surely affected by how we feel about our ability to resolve a given challenge. If we tie our shoes for 20 years or more, we hardly give that problem a second thought. Or perhaps we study birds for so many years that the first time we see a species in real life, we recognize it. Sometimes we see someone else succeed at something and figure that, if they can do a task, there is no reason we can’t also do it. Or someone tells us convincingly that we can do something. Admittedly, if we are physically or emotionally tired or sick, our effectiveness is less than optimal.
Giving in to our fears decreases the size of our comfort zone, whether we determine that it is not safe to travel to another country, to speak in front of large audiences, to eat strange foods, or even in to go outside our own home. Admittedly, concern about a certain activity may be appropriate. Maybe a particular country is caught up in a civil war, or a tanker carrying ammonia overturned on a nearby freeway. But an ongoing, persistent fear, one that controls your life, may keep you from achieving your dreams.
Sometimes we just plunk ourselves in the middle of something, like a non-swimmer thrown into a pool, flailing to keep from drowning, and hoping, in the process, to learn to swim. Of course, the other option is that we drown, or someone else jumps in to save us. Many have a long-lasting fear of water because of a similar experience; well-meaning though it may have been. Rescue is seldom a positive affirmation.
What fears are holding you back?
Why do you let them?
How does that fear and your response affect how you feel about yourself?
How do you manage failure? Is it affecting how you see yourself?
Does fear limit your willingness to risk?
Copyright © 2011 Sandra Kischuk and Living Beyond Limits. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sandra Kischuk and Living Beyond Limits with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.