“The biggest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.” – John C. Maxwell
I read this quote this week and it stopped me in my tracks. Have you ever thought about why you do the things you do day in and day out? What drives you to get to work or to school? Is it a shear passion for what you are doing, that you are truly motivated to be there or is there something else? Do you ever feel limited by your own fears?
As a society, we are often driven by fear. This fear-based approach to life is often influenced by something called the scarcity mindset – thinking we will never have or be enough. We fear messing up or making a big mistake because others may not love us or they may view us as less than.
Here’s the catch – we are all human and making mistakes is part of the game. Don’t get me wrong, there is an appropriate time and place to be fearful. Fear can help protect us and keep us safe. But living in constant fear may be limiting and unhelpful in many ways.
Fear tells us it’s not okay to chase after our dreams. It tells us that it’s better to play it safe then risk the fall.
In my work with clients, in my experiences with friends and family, and in my own life, I see this scarcity mindset or fear-based living come up often. I’ve watched friends pursue careers that make them miserable but feel “safe.” They come with a guaranteed paycheck and a 401k. I’ve worked with many in relationships that feel unfulfilling and discouraging, yet they stay. They fear that no one else will love them. I’ve seen people neglect their own well-being because trying something new feels scary or overwhelming. They fear embarrassment if they don’t excel on the first try.
We all do it. We are all driven by fear on some level.
When I find myself living out of this space, this place of fear, I often feel small, discouraged and powerless.
Here are my 5 quick tips to implement when you recognize fear-based living in your own life:
~Take the time to notice your thoughts.
It’s hard to change something or work on it if we don’t notice it in the moment. If you’re feeling stuck or having difficulty making a decision, what’s the conversation you’re having with yourself in your head?
~Approach your fears with a curious mind, rather than punitive.
If you catch yourself have a fear driven thought, try questioning it rather than shaming yourself for having it. This might look like “Even though I’m miserable, I shouldn’t even think about transferring schools. I can’t risk losing any credits.”
To “Huh, I realize that the thought of transferring is really scary for me. I wonder what about losing a few credits feels so terrifying for me right now?”
~Normalize the experience of failure. It happens to all of us. You are not alone.
Sometimes the hardest part of failing is feeling alone in your mistakes. Reassuring yourself that at one point or another, we all experience failure and we all make mistakes may help to alleviate some layer of the pain.
~Learn to be okay with not having it all figured out.
Let uncertainty become your friend. It’s hard to move forward without having a guaranteed outcome. It’s also hard to grow as a person without facing new challenges. Can you view some of the uncertainty as an opportunity?
~Be patient with yourself.
It takes time to change …especially when you’re experiencing something that’s been engrained in you since you can remember. Feeling discomfort is part of this process. It will take time, AND you can still do it.
Is there anywhere you notice fear driving your life? How can you challenge it? What do you think might happen if you were to lead with something other than fear? I’d love to hear all of your thoughts and experiences.