I have a real problem with fear. I find myself paralyzed at times because I’m so afraid of all the things that could go wrong. Sometimes I can’t make a decision because I’m so worried about making a mistake. This fear is affecting my business and holding me back in life. Do you have any suggestions to help me overcome this?
Every moment of your life, you are facing the unknown around the next corner. There is a 50/50 chance that what awaits you is terrible, but there is also a 50/50 chance things will be better than they are today. So why do you assume the worst?
Remember that the unknown is called the unknown for a reason — you don’t know what it is. Borrowing pain from the unknown future and suffering over it today is a pointless waste of energy.
Standing in this place, facing the unknown, you only have two choices. You can spend today afraid that tomorrow will be bad, which will make you anxious, distracted and selfish (because you can’t focus on others when you are in fear). Or you can spend today in trust that tomorrow will be great, which will make you calm, optimistic and loving today.
Your choice will not affect what will happen tomorrow.
The unknown will be, what it is meant to be, either way.
But your choice will greatly affect the quality of today.
Choosing to be optimistic would be a lot more fun, and optimistic people tend to live longer.
A study done at the University of Pittsburgh showed that optimistic people were 30 percent less likely to die from heart disease than pessimists, and 14 percent less likely to die from any other disease.
Bottom line, being optimistic is good for you.
If you struggle with getting your pessimistic attitude out of the way, this is how I recommend you do it:
1. Decide what you believe about life. Is life a classroom or a testing center? Are you here to prove your worth or are you here to learn and grow? It can’t be both. This journey is either a test designed to trick you, tempt you and possibly crush you or it is a safe process where the universe is on your side and helping you grow.
I believe the journey is about growing and learning. I believe it is a divine process designed just for me to facilitate my growth. I believe every experience that shows up in my life is there to help me become better. I believe the universe is on my side, and even when bad things happen, they are still there for my benefit. I believe that even if I fail on occasion, those failures will serve me. I believe life is a classroom, and my value isn’t on the line here.
Because I choose to see life this way, I’m not scared of mistakes or failures. I know I will recover and things will be okay. I trust the process of life, and this takes away my fear of the unknown.
2. Choose to believe there is a net. Life is like a walk across a tight wire. It appears to be risky and dangerous. Sometimes we are scared we are going to fall or fail and that everything will be lost. We often struggle to find our balance and stay upright. The question is, is there a net?
Every time I’ve been to the circus and watched someone walk the wire, there has been a big net underneath them the whole time. It may have looked scary, but they were never in any danger.
I believe you have a net.
Your life might look and feel scary, but you are not in any danger. Life is a classroom designed to facilitate your learning — so you can’t fail at it. There is a net, or plan, or purpose that makes this journey a safe one and means your value is not on the line. (Take a minute and think about your personal spiritual beliefs. Are they consistent with this idea? Mine are.)
I recommend that you make this your official policy on life. Officially decide to see the process of life as a safe one. Officially decide to see life as a classroom, not a test. Officially decide to feel safe because there are no mistakes, only lessons.
Or you can spend every day in fear and anxiety, if you want to.
Some people are going to read this article (as they always do) and in the comments section they are probably going to tell me I’ve got my head in the clouds because life is a cruel mean place and bad things happen and you have every right to be afraid.
I will give them this — I cannot prove there’s a net and this journey is a safe one, but they can’t prove it isn’t.
Think about it.
I think you get to choose what you believe. You get to decide how you want to experience your life. You can experience every day in fear or you can choose trust.
I choose to trust there’s a net.
(Some days you will have to make this choice every 5 minutes, but you can do it.)
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a life coach and speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.