by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
If I could go back in time to speak to myself in my youth, or, if there’s one thing I could say to those remaining after I’m gone, the message would be, “Don’t waste your time being afraid.”
Fear has been the one internal opponent that has slowed me down, held me back, or blocked my ideas and actions. Not external obstacles or misfortunes, but this inner voice of anxiety.
In the past 2 years, I’ve started living Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to do something everyday that scares me. I’ve learned it’s liberating to challenge myself to experience new things, ideas or experiences, or go for higher, different goals as a way to grow my courage overall.
But I’ve also learned that getting to the root of fear is hugely important.
The inner energy of my intent or feeling while taking action makes a powerful impact on the outcome.
It is important to act. Yes, do that.
But go deeper. Look at that fear. Deal with that emotion. Get to the core of it. Spell it out. Analyze it. Ask yourself what you’re afraid of.
Once you get to the root of that fear and dissect it, you find clarity. When you see clearly what your fear is based on, you can use reason to counter each fear.
Let’s use an example:
I’m launching my new online business. This new venture requires that I learn things I’ve never done. That alone has caused me fear.
But when I look at that fear through the lens of reason, I find it’s absolutely reasonable to feel fear simply because this is a new experience for me. Things we haven’t challenged before often naturally make us anxious.
This helps me see my fear as normal for my situation. This viewpoint relaxes me and diminishes my fear. I feel calmer and a bit proud that I’m pushing myself into new things and beyond my comfort zone.
One way to decrease fear is to acknowledge your courage in taking on new endeavors, in pushing yourself to feel the fear and take action anyway. It’s important to take a moment to celebrate that kind of victory. Celebrations of personal accomplishment are also a strong deterrent to feeling fearful!
As a new entrepreneur, and a highly sensitive person with OCD tendencies, I have many things that make me feel anxious. I start a cascade of inner questions to myself:
As a new business owner, the stress can seem relentless and unending. But by getting all my worries in focus in front of me, I can begin to break things down into a clear plan with my critical priorities mapped out.
I'm learning that having all my fears written down allows me a chance to face each one and brainstorm a solution for it. Next, I brainstorm ideas for a contingency plan in case my first solution doesn't work or something else happens to derail it. Sometimes this process enlightens me to a need to re-prioritize or shift my plans to accommodate additional issues and/or time.
Keeping my daily plan and inner intent in line with these priorities allows my mind to find ease, knowing I’m actively addressing everything necessary for reaching my goals. One of the most powerful anecdotes to any fear is taking concrete action. Taking action based on a plan through which I've faced my fears puts me back in the driver's seat of my life and my business success.
How To Get Back Up After A Failure
But, yes, sometimes I flat-out fail to reach goals. Or, I get out of rhythm with my priorities. Sometimes, I start spiraling into a downward stress mode where insomnia rears its head. I get run-down, and out of whack.
Yes, other personal, family or health issues distract my focus or throw me for a loop. I’m human.
When any of this happens--and things will happen--I get back to self-care basics. I refresh my determination. I refresh my determination again. And again. I go back to review my fears and center myself on my values.
As an entrepreneur, and hell, as a human being, I’m learning that it’s not a straight line to happiness and success. Rather, it’s a dramatic, magnificent drama with these crazy, off-the-beaten-path excursions, unexpected adventures, and hurdles that appear from out of nowhere. It’s heavy storms and strong gales of unforeseen problems that completely drench and knock me down into the sloppy mud.
That’s the story.
That’s the part of life that creates the dynamic arch of climactic engagement. It’s also the fuel for catalytic flow to unleash new, fresh, robust, colorful creative juice that leads to a view of an amazing, vast vista.
That new vista is a vision of your joyful fulfillment and the start of a new chapter for previously unimaginable victories.
But, this up-and-down, twisty, turning story cannot emerge without dealing head-on with fear, or without hitting plateaus of illusive limitations that cause you to rear back or stop dead in your tracks.
These obstacles force you to take three steps back, like the lion prepares an attack on his prey, to regroup. Assess. Take care of your inner world. Do whatever you need to refresh yourself and rebuild your inner fortitude.
Then, you may lunge forward, with all your might. That momentum gained from ripping out each fear by their roots will propel you forward in a way that you’ve not experienced until this moment.
Fear makes you face your problems to break through your self-imposed limitations so you may unleash your massive, unlimited, creative, beautiful human potential.
Fear makes you better yourself, both for your own happiness and for others in your life.
I’m learning that for every negative emotion, problem or experience, there is a positive. A way to convert whatever it is into value, inner strength and a source for deeper personal growth and wider progress.
It all goes back to nurturing creativity and inspiration, based on self-care. When we truly do the things that are beneficial for ourselves, we spur positive health, creative energy and the inner qualities we need to improve ourselves and for others.
How Dealing With Your Fear Buoys Your Success
That’s why I’m becoming grateful for my bouts with fear.
After wholeheartedly, directly wrestling with my fear, I find that interaction miraculously morphs into a kind of bearhug, leading me to a moment of gratitude.
This shift is an amazing metamorphosis that allows me a more informed view of my true self and my situation. I feel a burst of powerful confidence, with the strength to go after my goals with clear action.
This mood change propels the reach of my actions. The energy behind my actions grows more confident, joyful, compassionate, deliberate and resilient.
This personal development process reveals how dealing with fear buoys powerful action toward success and growth.
When you see fear as a part of your necessary growth process, it has the potential to be your friend. Fear becomes your guiding voice of wisdom to do the things you must do for a richer, happier life.
So let’s embrace our fears. Addressing our fear is the way to successful, enlightened living.
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Challenging circumstances are an opportunity to awaken and polish our maximum potential as well as develop qualities like compassion, courage, creative thinking, discipline, flexibility, patience and honed focus. Challenges also spur a heightened energy due to the urgency for a much-needed break-through.
How A Spiritual Workout Builds Your Strength
Much like a good physical workout will push the limits of our endurance, stamina and strength in order to improve overall health, difficulties in daily life provide a spiritual and mental workout which can result in a stronger life-force, an optimistic state of mind and a more balanced personality.
This outcome is dependent on our chosen outlook of the particular situation. When our mindset is resolutely centered on remaining positively undaunted by external or internal obstacles, we’re able to tap wisdom with fresh ideas for opening the way forward.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda states, “Never for an instant forget the effort to renew your life, to build yourself anew. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway of life itself. This is not an easy task. Indeed, it may be the most severely challenging struggle there is. For opening the door to your own life is in the end more difficult than opening the door to all the mysteries of the universe.”
How Struggle Helps You Tap Your Creative Well-Spring
Creativity is found through the struggle to push open this door to our inner life. Perhaps this is partly why some of the greatest art is born of the struggling artist.
Artists tend to search inwardly to a deeper level (sometimes even while fighting for survival), embrace the full spectrum of both emotional and psychological experiences, and question or attack civilization’s problems with greater gusto than most. As a result of the artist’s vehement battle, a well-spring of imaginative innovation is unleashed.
But the creative life is not the sole patented property of artists. Creativity is found in the willingness to fight against our own perceived limitations, or those of the outside world, with the intent to improve ourselves or our environment, no matter the resistance inevitably endured. This is the ‘never give up’ spirit of great figures in history who spearheaded revolution.
Thinking outside the box is all that’s required to open that box. This act itself ignites courage, resilience, and the energy for empathy. Compassion can arise from having gone through these deeper struggles, allowing us to become aware of the human experience to a greater degree.
How Your Problems Connect You With The World
This universal connection to others, the realization that one is not isolated or alone in life, is one of the reasons art, music, literature and poetry can be so powerful. So whether it’s to tap creativity, become a person with broader awareness and ability, fulfill our maximum potential, or affect change in the world, life’s hardest problems are in actuality, a wonderful opportunity for positive, exponentially more significant metamorphosis.
Since nothing is certain in life but change itself, the perspective to use it for the betterment of self and society is the most positive, productive way to go. Everything depends on the outlook we choose; Do we selfishly dwell on our problems, making ourselves and others suffer?
Or, do we look at everything as a chance to expand our character, develop the best of ourselves, and encourage compassion and connection with others, to create value as a foundation for our future?
How has your mindset affected an outcome or a change in a relationship? Share in the comments below!
I’d love to hear from you. It means a lot to me that my content is helpful and empowers you. Please take a moment to join the conversation below to let me know if you find this helpful, or if you have questions or suggestions!
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In my INSPIRATION blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.