How to Overcome the Fear That’s Holding You Back

It’s time to start doing what you want.

Ever stall instead of doing what you want? Maybe you stall from starting an art project, going on a hike, or carving out time to read a great book. I’m talking about the fun stuff and the meaningful stuff that isn’t a far-out dream. It’s stuff you can do, you’re just not.

What’s that thing that you want to do, but haven’t yet allowed yourself?

It’s strange because if we want something, wouldn’t we do it as soon as we could? What holds us back? It’s fear. Fear can wrap around that thing you want in lots of ways that may seem like rational and real reasons to hold back. It could be fear of failing, fear of your mind changing, fear of your life changing, or fear of being let down when what you thought wanted doesn’t live up to your expectations.

What’s your fear that’s holding you back?

For me, my fear was being laughed at. I’ve been wanting to publish an article for two months. The time ticked by, and I wondered why I was stalling. I got really upset with myself. Then I realized it’s because by writing and putting myself out there, I feared that I wouldn’t be taken seriously — particularly by work colleagues. I feared openly being myself in all parts of my life because it’s more comfortable compartmentalizing. It’s comfortable being my work-self at work and being “me” the rest of the time.

I was having dinner with a friend and former colleague a couple weeks ago who I hadn’t seen in years. I told her how I was stalling and that I was fearful of not being taken seriously. (Which, by the way, was a HUGE step for me to actually admit it to another person!) Her response was exactly what I needed.

“No one cares as much as you.”

Wow. It was a bit of a punch to the gut. My immediate thought was, “Ugh, how sad. No one cares anyway. Why bother?” That quickly left me, and I realized she’s absolutely right. It was liberating. No one is taking this decision or the would-be article as seriously as I was. I was fearful about something that was one inch tall rather than a wall I couldn’t climb.

Being taken seriously is something best lightly touched and not held tightly. Demanding respect is something different. Being treated with respect is important. We can be respected and not be taken so dreadfully seriously. Attempting to live up to a false “serious” impression can stifle creativity and make us less likely to take risks. Risks are what give us rewards. This is why I’m choosing to look my fear in the face and tell it I’m doing this anyway. It’s uncomfortable and a little scary. And it’s exactly what I need to do.

I hope you take a look at that thing you want to do and why it hasn’t happened yet. What’s that obstacle in your way? What’s the reason? I bet fear is intertwined in there someplace. Please look at that fear and peel it back. Time to be really honest. It’s not fun. And it’s so worth it.

I’m publishing this article. Maybe someone will read it. Maybe they won’t. The point is: I’m publishing. I’m doing that thing that I feared doing.The great part of doing the thing you want is that it’s complete in and of itself. Any results that come from it are a bonus.

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