What to do when fear is keeping you stuck in place
I’ve recently returned from my trip to Paris. It was a dream.
Here’s the wild part: I went by myself. It was my first international journey on my own. I learned so much about myself and grew so much as a person through traveling solo. It was a worthwhile experience and one I’d recommend to anyone who has wanderlust and wants to give themselves a fun challenge.
That being said, I read a quote the other day that said “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”
I couldn’t agree more. I actually welcome challenges and tests because I feel like this is what further develops my character. It helps me to develop as a person and to evolve as a spiritual being.
And challenges can come in many fashions or forms.
For instance, I recently spoke with a loved one about her desire to relocate to New York. It’s a conversation we’ve had countless times, and for a while, it’s felt like we were only going in circles: running the same numbers, addressing the same concerns, going back and forth on and on and on.
The same thing happened today and finally I said, “the only thing stopping you at this point is your own fear.”
Fear can be crippling. In the case of this loved one, she was consumed by her uncertainties. Did she really want to relocate? How could she be sure that it was the right thing to do? How could she be sure that it was the appropriate season? What if she made a costly mistake? What if it turned out she didn’t like her new place?
I told her that there would always be a ‘what if?’ in the equation. But that it’s usually fear that’s doing the talking.
Don’t get me wrong: fear isn’t always a bad thing. Fear is sometimes what saves us from danger. It can be what tells us to avoid that dark alley, what drives us to run out of a burning building, or what guides sound decision making so that we don’t put ourselves in a situation that costs our lives.
But then there’s the type of fear that takes the form of self-doubt or of ‘playing small’. Sometimes, as much as we may want to go after a dream, we stay within the boundaries of the world we already know because it feels safer. So long as we stay put, we don’t have to feel the pain of failure, or of things not working out the way we hoped they would.
The only problem with this is that we stay stuck right where we are. And years from now–maybe even decades from now–we’re right where we’ve always been. All because we’re too afraid to move forward.
I told my loved one that fear is natural. It’s always going to be there. We’re always going to experience uncertainty, especially when it comes to a major life decision like relocating.
The key is taking action in spite of the fear you feel.
After all, courage isn’t the absence of fear but rather the ability to take action in spite of it, and the judgment that what you want is more important than the fear you’re feeling.
So if you’re feeling uncertain or fearful about a major life decision, and it’s causing you to feel stuck in place, I want you to know that you’re not alone. What you’re feeling is perfectly normal, and there’s no reason to be upset with yourself for feeling fear. It’s a natural part of the human experience.
When the stuck-ness and/or the status-quo of your circumstances becomes so painfully unbearable that you’re ready to take your next step, though, here’s what I want you to do:
1) Break the colossal task before you into several smaller steps. For instance, in the case of a move, stop trying to tackle a hundred different to-do’s at once. Instead, what’s the next smallest step that you can take that will get you closer to your dreams? Maybe it’s simply looking at potential new homes online. Whatever it is, do it, and don’t even worry about anything else until you feel like you’ve exhausted the task and are ready for the next step.
2) When fear pays you a visit, just keep moving forward. Remember, fear is a natural part of the human experience. There’s no cure-all that is going to make you stop second-guessing or doubting your actions. Sometimes, we need this to keep us from taking detrimental courses of action. That’s why it’s programmed into us. Heed it when necessary and every other time, just continue forward with your to-do list. Keeping chipping away on that goal.
3) Keep the big picture in mind. Think about your end-goal. In the case of our relocating example, think about how it will feel to finally live in that new location in your new home. Think about all the things you’ll do once you’re there. In other words, daydream! Meditate on it. You’ll feel empowered each time and it’ll give you the extra buzz of energy you need to keep going.
We all experience fear in life. How we respond to it is what makes the difference. My hope is that you’ll act in spite of your fears, and that you’ll continue forward toward the life of your dreams.