“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh
We all have dreams, and we all have actions we know can lead us there. To paint may be one of them, or to start a business, or to reach out to someone we admire, or to walk up to someone and tell them how we feel.
No matter what it is, we are faced with a fork in the road every time: between staying as we are, or doing something that will pull us higher, closer, and into a new level of our unique, irreversible lives.
Each of us has that choice, and as Viktor Frankl described it, it is the choice at each and every moment of what the monument of our existence will be.
Do we go for those things? Do we try them? Do we strive to become? Or do we let them tell us we can’t?
No matter who you are, no matter what you’re doing, if it’s something that demands you grow, if it’s some wonderful dream you’re trying to make a reality, you will hear that voice — the voice of doubt, of pessimism, the “what if” and the “you can’t” that rings between our ears.
And sometimes it comes from those around us.
We are by nature fearful, and by nature, we are drawn to the negative side of things. But that doesn’t mean we have to let our fears and doubts stop us from making wonderful changes in our lives.
So how do we silence those voices? How do we inoculate ourselves to fear? It’s remarkably simple: By doing the very thing it tells us not to do.
The Only Way to Overcome Fear
Dale Carnegie, one of the pioneers of personal development, coined this as one of the surest antidotes for fear:
“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” — Dale Carnegie
Do what scares you, if it’s something you wish to do. Do it over and over, even though it hurts, even though fear tells you not to.
- Make the call
- Say the words
- Book the flight
- Take the chance
- Get down to creating
- Get down to business
Whatever it is, do it, face it, and show yourself, as Henry Ford once said, one of the greatest discoveries one can make about oneself is…
‘that you can do the very things you feared you couldn’t do’.
And you can. You absolutely can.
When you do that, the voices will berate you, they will yell louder. But keep going, and going, and going. Life has its way of acting as a gatekeeper to our dreams. It meets you before them, and uses fear and doubt to challenge you:
“What business do you have thinking you can do this?” Most people answer by curling into a ball and never trying again.
But you can answer with boldness instead. That is, the intention to do the thing that scares you despite everything that challenges your worthiness to do so. As Anthony Moore wrote, act while you feel fear, for its fear’s trick to make you wait for it to go away. Act in spite of it. Act in its face. Act because you can.
Inaction Breeds Doubt
Beware of inaction. Inaction breeds doubt. It is fertile ground for those seeds to take root. Today, take action on your goals and your dreams.
Take action towards that beautiful vision you have for your life and the lives of those you love. Not tomorrow. Not later. But today. Always today.
The more you do this, the smaller the voices will get, and the more you’ll realize that their words only had the power you gave them by believing them.
You’re worth so much more than mere voices. You amount to so much more than what others say.
You’re worth a world in itself — for you, just like each and every one of us, have the ability to change the world for the better. You have the wonderful gift of being alive, and where there is life, there is hope.