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Monday, October 8, 2012

Banish Fear

Fear is binding, restrictive, habit forming negative thought patterns that can destroy your life if you let them. Fear isn't always a huge panic-ridden incident like on television shows, sometimes fear is just small hesitations and inhibitions that pile up quickly.

For example: Fear to get your haircut might make you feel ugly or ratty, which you'll manifest in front of other people. Fear of changing careers might make you unhappy in your current position, causing you to get demoted or fired because of your actions or behaviors. Fear of inadequacy might prevent you from talking to someone who is interested in you or your opportunity and cause you to be frustrated with your lack of communication skills.

Notice that in each of these scenarios, we as people tend to think about what is holding us back and make ourselves unhappy, and then instead of owning our poor thought patterns and changing them, we look for someone else to blame. Your boss, your job, a customer, a teacher from Elementary school--your mind, if untrained to recognize fear for what it is and change your thinking, can and will find a reason why it's someone or something else's fault.

If you find yourself in an unhappy and depressed place, think about why that is. If you immediately find yourself blaming everyone but yourself, stop it. You are responsible for your thoughts--you can choose to live a happy life by being accountable for your thought patterns and changing them, or you can choose to let your thoughts run negative and wild, keeping you under the bondage of fear.

Always remember it's your choice.

If you agreed with the above and you want to know how to change, here's some tips:

1. The first thing that has to change is your thoughts. You can change your clothes, hairstyle, hair color, house, car, whatever as many times as you'd like--and it might bring you relief for a little bit--but if you don't change your poor thought patterns, your life won't feel any different in the long run. To change your thoughts, examine your inner dialogue. If you're critical of yourself, stop being critical and look for what you've done well. If you're constantly blaming others, take accountability for your part in a positive way, and look for how you can change your habits. Don't complain about your situation--you'll only make it worse. Don't condemn yourself either; think about what makes you happy and excited and stay focused on that.

2. Once you've changed your thoughts, change your actions. If you have a fear of speaking to people, join Toastmaster's or another speaking organization to become more comfortable in your skills and abilities. If that's too intimidating, ask wise and honest people you know how you can improve your communication skills. If you have a bad habit of hanging out with negative people that always put you in a bad mood about life, respectfully ask them to not complain or gossip in front of you. If they don't change, it might be a good idea to find a new crowd to hang out with. If you have a negative tirade in your head over mistakes you make, do a "performance review" on yourself instead: write down what went wrong and how you could have fixed it, but write it professionally, as if you were a boss supporting and encouraging an employee. This is a valuable way to correct your actions without condemning or criticizing yourself too harshly. When you start ripping into yourself, instead of improving you'll just feel sorry for yourself and do it all over again the next day. Instead, set goals, be proactive and be encouraging to yourself that you're in control and you can change.

3. Once you've changed your actions, change your demeanor. Rather than walk around with a sour look, smile. Smile at strangers, smile at yourself in the mirror, smile when you remember something silly, smile at your spouse, children and friends. Be generous with your affection--if you don't like to touch people, a smile will suffice! Find reasons to laugh and have a quiet inner joy. If someone makes a mistake, be kind about it and encourage them the way you'd encourage yourself.

I hope this little toe-dip into the world of banishing fear, taking control of your thoughts and your life has been helpful to you! If you have any tips, thoughts or suggestions, comment below!


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