Insights on Conquering Fear and Achieving Your Full Potential
Fear is a natural human reaction to a perceived danger or threat; however, for many women, fear can dominate decision making. Uncovering our fears and addressing them is a way to heal and change how decisions are made. Sometimes understanding why we are making a particular decision can be difficult. To many, the decision may seem sensible and correct, but when driven by fear, that decision could lead to unhappiness. For women many decisions are made based on a desire not to be something and a fear of turning into being someone we don’t want to be. This is a negative energy. This fear can drive limitations for women in the workplace and keeps them from achieving their full potential.
Women need to let go of that fear that keeps them from achieving maximum potential. Women need to realize that failure is OK; in fact, women need to fail and learn to pick themselves up and persevere. Recent research around why women are not achieving in the workplace suggests that fear is a driving factor. For many women, not being able to control the outcome of a situation can lead to fear. In life, many factors are outside of our control. A way to overcome fear is by understanding what factors can be controlled and what must be left up to whatever is going to happen. Many find that embracing an activity such as prayer, meditation, art, writing, or exercise can be a great outlet for letting go of what one cannot control.
In my life, I have faced many fears, and for over twenty years I ran from them. Our natural human response to most things is fight or flight; I often chose the latter, and over time I realized that one day I had run out of places to run. Facing my fears was not an easy task. I was forced to take a hard look at my life and my choices. I work on this daily, but I try to adhere to the following principles in letting go of my fear.
- Accept the fear.
- Control what is in my power to control.
- Facing all fears at once is overwhelming, so take everything in small steps.
- Keep track of accomplishments, and learn to sing praises.
- Failing is not forever; it’s a temporary stop.
- Life is not a race; there are no winners or losers.
- Do not be offended easily but know that most comments made by others are a reflection of their own fears.
- Running away does not solve problems; it just delays them, and it’s easier to face them at the moment than to go back and apologize or try to relive the moment.
- Find something each day to bring joy in life.
Women tend to lose sight of their own needs and desires as they spend time in fear and then wonder why there is no time to do things to bring joy. We let fear drive our decisions, either through the fear of facing problems or the fear of turning out to be something not desired. Many of us spend our whole lives fearing that we will turn into one of our parents, never stopping to realize how unique we are and that we may embody many elements from our parents but that no one is a carbon copy of their parents.
One technique for overcoming fear that I have found effective is visualization. When I find myself struggling with a decision, I start to visualize that decision and the worst possible outcome. This immediate response on a decision makes me realize that fear is a driving motivation. I will then take that image in my head and alter it. Even a tiny alteration such as a color of a room or putting someone I care about in the image will help alter my viewpoint, and then I can tackle the anxiety of making this decision. It is a technique that I find useful in getting rid of the negativity. By altering something in the image, I am telling my brain that I can alter the outcome, and I can turn something negative into a positive. This technique takes practice and relaxation to be effective.
Another important thing about the negative thought is that I acknowledge its presence and don’t judge or criticize it. Many women feel the need to always have perfect thoughts. Suppressing the negative or fear actually makes the situation worse. The desire for the perfection that doesn’t exist for many of us can cripple our true selves. Fear is OK, but what you do with that fear is more important than the fear itself. A popular saying is we are our own worst critics; learn to teach your inner critic to benefit instead of holding back true potential. A tiny alteration in viewpoint can make a world of difference. Take that inner critic and force her to find something positive in the situation, even it if is tiny, because small positive thoughts lead to larger positive thoughts and allow the fear to dissipate.
Women must realize what their fears are and where they come from so that they can embrace how fear alters decisions. Statistics show that women will apply for a job only if they are 80% or more qualified whereas men will apply if they are only 50% qualified. This is due to the amount of fear women allow to dictate their lives. When looking for a promotion, asking for proper compensation, or applying for a job, instead of looking at what you don’t have, look at what you do have and use that to drive the discussion. Confidence comes from turning fears into strengths. Every individual has unique qualities. Looking at shortcomings drives more fear, but by embracing strength we can conquer fear and become the people we are meant to be.9