Tapping into the hidden power of fear
We all want change and forward movement, yet we simultaneously seem to fear and resist it. This is evident in the myriad New Year’s resolutions that are made and rarely followed through to completion. Why does this happen? Why do we resist true and lasting change? Self-sabotage and lack of follow-through certainly play their part, as does deferring to what we call our ”higher priorities.” Whatever excuse we may call forth, the fact remains that we won’t achieve the change we are seeking unless we take a deeper look at the parts of ourselves that resist transformation.
One thing we know for certain is that real change beckons us to leave our comfort zones. It is precisely because of this comfort that we are so reluctant to consistently follow through with what is needed to enact the changes we want to make. Many would say that one of the main reasons we don’t want to stray from such comfort is because of our fear of the unknown. I would say that we don’t really fear the unknown so much as we fear the known coming to an end. Take a moment to sit with that idea. For most people, wading through the mystery of the unknown doesn’t feel safe; it seems to go against our instinct of self-preservation. I think this is actually a byproduct of our conditioning — the things we have been taught to fear or learned to fear through our experience. We have been conditioned to fear feeling or looking stupid, to fear failure or being ostracized by our peers or those we love.
Most of these fears don’t even make logical sense when we think about them. They are an outgrowth of the two basic needs we have as children: to feel safe and to feel wanted. When these needs become compromised, we exert the adult behaviors of control and acceptance. We endeavor to control others, our environment, or ourselves while also seeking acceptance from others through our actions or behaviors. These modes of behavior are at the root of our fear of change, which is really just a safety issue. Instead of taking a risk, going out on a limb, or stepping out of our comfort zone, we end up stagnating, procrastinating, and failing to follow through. This often leads us to experience anger and frustration.
Although we generally attribute negative connotations to anger and frustration, these emotions can actually be our greatest harbingers of clarity.
Anger shows us precisely where we want to feel empowered in our lives. Frustration, an aspect of anger, is generally preceded by feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness, the foundation of our tendency to procrastinate. Procrastination has three main causes: 1) an unclear vision; 2) a clunky vision; and 3) vision that is not in alignment with our highest values. So where does anger come in? It can help us see where we want to feel empowered in our lives. We can use it to gain clarity instead of using it as fuel for discouragement and self-sabotage.
It is important to ask yourself: What is it I truly want from this vision? How do I want to feel upon attaining this? What could the possibilities look like? Allow yourself to really ponder these questions. If you find your vision is clunky, how can you take this now- clarified vision and break it up into smaller, more achievable steps? Keep it simple. An important first step is to make a list of all the things that are needed to make this vision a reality. This may start off simply by doing some research, making some phone calls, or gathering specific resources and then breaking up the steps necessary to begin to put all of those separate pieces together. Lastly, if the change or transformation you are looking to accomplish is not in alignment with your highest values, that is when you end up doing things that we label ”higher priorities.” Most times, this is simply because we are unable to see how the change we seek would fulfill these values.
So how do we determine what our highest values are? We can determine these by asking ourselves some very clear questions. Take a moment to write these questions down on a separate sheet of paper and answer them honestly and thoroughly. Go back and circle the answers that are repeated most often – these are your highest values in this moment and what will feel like your purpose. When you can clearly identify these, that is when you can begin to link your vision to those values and clearly see how your vision will fulfill them.
11 questions that can help determine your highest values:
- What do you fill your physical space with – when you look at your personal space at home or in your office, what is there?
- How do you spend your time?
- How do you spend your energy?
- What do you spend your money on beyond set monthly expenses?
- Where are you most organized and ordered?
- Where are you most disciplined and reliable?
- What do you think about or focus on most?
- What do you envision or dream most about?
- What do you find yourself often talking about?
- What are you most inspired about?
- Toward what do you set goals?
Now that you have a clearer idea of what you value, you can focus on aligning your vision and personal goals with those values. Discard your conditioned patterns of procrastination to create the transformation you desire. Change happens when we are willing to walk through our resistance with courage and wisdom instead of succumbing to fear and doubt. Go ahead – use your fear for good!
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