How to face your fears and change your life

We all have insecurities we want to overcome.

During my school years, I had teachers who criticized my inability to excel in certain areas of my education. Statements were told to me like…

“Awkward!” — This word was used, particularly in my creative writing classes—countless times.

“Not creative enough.” — Again, used regularly in my teachers writing critiques.

“You must have a learning disability.” – This was a real dagger thrown by my college economic teacher when I couldn’t find my way to grasp his way of teaching microeconomics.

I’m sure my teachers meant well. Yet, those statements became labels that I applied to myself; not because I wanted to, but because I never knew anything different. I resolved that I was always going to write awkwardly, be less creative and struggle to learn.

However, here’s what I really learned…

Negative life events are the primary drivers of fear which champions the resistance we experience when attempting to doing the things we want most. 

Case in point: To this day, I don’t write in this space out of fear of  your critiques of my awkward sentences and lack of creativity.

It’s funny. When you believe things like this, you’ll find ways to prove it to be true everywhere. These filters become a self-sabotaging perspective that keeps you from believing anything else. 

Can we agree to draw a line and live a different story?

Let’s stop believing that we can’t…

  • write
  • lose weight
  • win a competition
  • get the book deal
  • find funding
  • be an entrepreneur
  • start the non-profit
  • be a successful blogger, photographer, author, business owner
  • …the list could go on

Truth is if you’re regularly drawn to a goal, dream, or idea and yet every time you pursue it, you’re hit with massive amounts of resistance, it’s time to dig in and resist the resistance.

I know this is easier said than done.

5 things we should do to stop the resistance

1. Stop Comparing

Comparison is the number one killer of any dream, idea or goal. When you compare yourself against others, it only feeds the resistance and forces you to compromise or quit. The reality is the person you’re comparing yourself against, has their own list of labels, fears and resistance to overcome too. And let’s face it, the advent of social media makes most people—especially successful ones—look pretty sexy. Don’t believe it. We all struggle with something. It’s best to embrace your own struggles, and compare yourself against yourself.

2. Stop believing in the labels

First, you have to identify the labels you’re believing that keep the resistance alive and well. Stop right now and write them down…on paper…not in your head. Writing it down is where the magic happens because you’re forced to face your fears.

3. Create a different label

This is where we become quite powerful over our insecurities. Now that you’ve listed out your labels, let’s cross them out and write what we know to be true over them.

Here’s how I’m rewriting my labels:

  • “Awkward Phrases” – I still don’t know what this means, but I nixed this one in the bud by using www.grammarly.com to review my writing before I hit “Publish.” BAM! Over time, I’ll become skilled and killer at using the tools available to me to write well.
  • “Not Creative Enough” – I’ll admit, I’d like to write more descriptively, but not writing is just an excuse. I’ve read plenty of successful books and blogs that are far from the standard my teachers held me to. Keep trying and write on Chowning. Write on.
  • “Learning Disorder” – First of all, this is a cheap answer to a complex problem. The truth is I don’t have a learning disorder; I just didn’t understand microeconomics. Plus, I never used microeconomics in my post-college life, so it doesn’t really matter anyway.

4. Do something

This is the most demanding and powerful step: you have to do something. If you’re already getting overwhelmed at all of the steps required to achieve, STOP! That thinking will only help the resistance. Do the following:

  1. Write down the end-goal
  2. Write down one thing you can do to get you closer to your goal
  3. Do that one thing
  4. Repeat 2 & 3 until you achieve

For me, I’m committing to writing in this space everyday—about whatever I want—for the next 31 days (goal). The driver of this goal is to force myself to hit Publish even if it’s not my best work. My “next step” is to publish this post, and then again tomorrow, then the next day, and so on.

5. Celebrate your progress

Celebrating your progress is a comparison killer because it forces you to compare you against yourself, not others. And if you want to do a happy dance, by all means, step away from your desk and do the dance. Now, if you’ve labeled yourself as “I’m not a dancer,” well then, it’s time to revisit steps 1-5. (Did I just write that because I’m not a dancer!)

We are all capable of facing our fears and changing our lives. This isn’t a cliché…it’s truth if you’ll believe in it. I welcome you to join me in doing something today.

Time to hit “Publish.”

What’s the “next step” you’re going to take?

 

 

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  • Stephanie Cowart

    Love this! So excited for you and looking forward to reading more on your blog!

    • http://www.kylechowning.com/ Kyle Chowning

      Thanks Steph!

      Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

  • jwolstenholm

    Well…you’ve always been one to encourage me to get over my fears. It’s funny how we all think encouragers like you have no fears. But we’re all just human beings carrying around a ton of baggage in the form of fear, insecurity and pride. Thanks for this practical reminder Kyle. You are an inspiring doer. So glad to have that example in life. And glad to see you doing what you feel led to do!

    • http://www.kylechowning.com/ Kyle Chowning

      Thanks for the encouragement Jess. It’s true, insecurities are common to all of us. I appreciate you!

  • brianhirschy

    Those are some good points and I’m glad you brought them up. The most important in my mind is simply “Doing Something” – fear comes into play when you think, at least for me, “What if it’s not enough?” With kids to feed and bills that are real, “Not enough” is my constant worry. I’d give up my career in photo/video in a heartbeat if I knew they’d miss meals.

    Ironically enough, I’ve seen this exact fear paralyze people into actually not doing enough… I’ve felt these fears and seen them actualized more than once.

    There are great life lessons in humility to be had here.

    • http://www.kylechowning.com/ Kyle Chowning

      I’ve seen it both ways too…On the opposite end, people start too much out of a drive to hope something sticks, yet nothing does.

      Great input Brian!