"You can choose to let life shape you into something beautiful. Similarly, let the hardships you do encounter become your stepping stones."
Mandi Hart, FearLess
The first two parts of this series -- Overcoming Fear, Doubt & Worry -- have taken us on a journey from understanding the origins of fear Overcoming Fear, Doubt & Worry - the Introduction to being able to control that fear by not giving energy to it, not allowing it to determine our choices in Do Not Feed Your Fear. Now we will look at strategies we can use to actually not just overcome fear, but turn it into a stepping stone to something better.
Stepping Stone: An advantageous position for advancement toward some goal; something that assists an ambition
Even the fastest marathon runner has to start at the beginning -- by learning to walk!
Taking those first tentative steps is scary! But every child has a mission and the determination to succeed. Babies don't give up. They don't tell themselves, "That's it! I guess I'm just not made to be a walker." Instead they learn from their mistakes and gradually get better and better at walking, until they can even begin to run. Their environment is encouraging them. "Bigger people can walk and those bigger people are cheering me on. I've got this!"
When fears come up for you, first ask whether the fear is generated from your environment or from within YOU. Certainly, there are times and situations that can be dangerous and even life-threatenting, but the types of fears that come from WITHIN US are created BY US, and those fears can be overcome.
The fears that come from within us are very likely holding us back from living the life we want to live. That type of fear, no matter how rational it may seem, simply isn't REAL and cannot control us unless we let it.
The truth is that the fears that you and I experience are opportunities for self-discovery and self-growth. Yogi Bhajan once said, "You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are." We all have the power to overcome our manufactured fears. We just need to believe that and act accordingly.
Transforming fear into a stepping stone can be achieved in four simple steps. Notice that I did not say easy steps. Change is never easy but it can be relatively simple.
- PAUSE, LOOK WITHIN & CHANGE YOUR THINKING
- CONSIDER ALL THE OPTIONS
- TAKE ACTION
- ACKNOWLEDGE AND CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS
Let's break those four big steps down into several "baby steps" to make them more achievable.
PAUSE, LOOK WITHIN & CHANGE YOUR THINKING
Rather than immediately reacting to the fearful thought, hit a virtual "pause button", take a deep breath and do some reverse engineering. In the first part of this series, I shared the process we use to interact with our environment. It doesn't hurt to repeat this.
You have a thought generated from within but often in reaction to something in your environment. That thought evolves into an image, which then generates emotions. Those emotions result in actions.
If you have an adverse thought or "gut instinct" that results in you feeling nervous, anxious, or afraid, it's worth the time and effort to look below the surface. Is your fear real or self-induced?
Let's say you are getting ready to go on a first date with someone you recently met. All of a sudden, you begin to panic. "What if that person doesn't like me?" "What if I say something stupid or trip over my own feet?"
We likely have had experiences in the past that haven't turned out well for us, so we began to load ourselves up with negative thinking. The possible recurrence of those experiences is what we fear, not the future.
See if you can turn the negative, self-limiting thought into an empowering thought. "What if that person doesn't like me" might be transformed into something like, "A lot of people like me. It's very possible that this person will like me, too."
CONSIDER ALL THE OPTIONS
Sure, you can give into your fear of this first date by "calling in sick" or simply not showing up. That is an option. But there are consequences for every action we take. Come up with a list of several options and then analyze them using a "pro vs. con" process. You may find that the pros win out, meaning that you will feel the fear but will take the chance anyway.
Actually follow through. Take the first step (finish getting ready) and then the next step (walk out the door) and then the next step (getting in your car and driving), until you've built up enough momentum to continue going forward without quite as much fear.
ACKNOWLEDGE AND CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS
Don't underestimate the important step(s) you took to move ahead despite your fear. That took courage and will help you keep moving forward the rest of your life. You now know the process to turn your fears into stepping stones. That process can be used over and over again.
Practice, practice, practice! Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "Do something every day that scares you!"
Finally, here are some examples of "stepping stones" that may also double as "healing stones":
- Letting go
- Permission to make mistakes
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
~ Mark Twain
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