You want to change your job... but you don’t. You want to end a toxic relationship... but you don’t. You want to travel the world or run a marathon or marry a rock star... but you don’t. We all have things in life that we’d like to be different; dreams that, for some reason, never materialise and instead we feel stuck. Life gets in the way, right? But while we like to blame our suspension on a busy schedule, lack of money or rubbish Reeboks, the reality is that there’s only one thing holding us back from our hopes - and that is fear.“Fear is what makes you think that dream of yours is just out of reach,” explains Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and author of new book out this month, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. “It’s what makes you feel out of control, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied and keeps you up at night because you have a feeling that your life isn’t all it could be. It’s what holds you back from advancing in your career, creating fulfilling relationships, and getting what you want.” Scary stuff right? Wrong. According to Alpert, it is possible to nip fear in the bud and reach for the stars. Here, he reveals his six key steps to success – so forget fear... read on!
Identify Your Dream
Before you can banish your fears, you need to work out what your dream is. I like to ask people to “Imagine your life one year on. If it’s the same as now, are you okay with that?” If you’re not, get started by re-writing your life by thinking about and jotting down the answers to the following questions: what excites you? What do you love? What are you passionate about? Who do you admire and why? What’s missing from your life? If you could be doing anything right now, what would it be? If you could be working anywhere right now, where would it be? What would you do if you did not have to deal with stress, fear, uncertainty, risk or discomfort to get it? Make sure your dream is realistic and comes from a place of inspiration rather than desperation, be specific and make it positive.
See it happen
Visualise the steps you think you might have to take to get to your goal. Close your eyes and see what you will do first, second, and third. For instance, if you want to become a more confident public speaker, visualise yourself learning how to present your material, practicing ahead of time, waiting to go on stage, and then delivering the speech. Don’t just watch the end: the audience giving a standing ovation; think about ways you can make what you want come true and how you can make your dreams a reality.
Always concentrating on the doom and gloom? Fearless people confront their negative thoughts, but rather than dwelling on them and allowing them to create tension, they stop and monitor them, then use them to move forward. When their mind pulls up a worst-case scenario, they ask themselves, “Where’s the evidence?” The next time you’re faced with negativity, acknowledge it, write it down, and then reframe it. Doing so will move you from a place of feeling stuck to one where you can actually see a future without overwhelming obstacles.
Negative: They are going to judge me
Positive: They want to hear what I have to say
Negative: Oh, no, I’m getting anxious. This isn’t good
Positive: I feel excited. I’ll be able to use this. This is motivating
Negative: I am out of my comfort zone. What if I choke?
Positive: This is such a great opportunity. I can’t wait to give this my all
Delete your fear mongers
We all have them; people in our lives who – whether they realise it or not – only enhance the fears that we have. Perhaps they have a negative mindset so drag you down with them, maybe they simply don’t want you to change because then it will mean that they will have to change. Whichever it is, by continuing to entertain them in your life, you’ll continue to stay scared. The bottom line is to ask yourself, “Does the person support my goals and do I feel good after spending time with him/her, or do I feel drained and uninspired?” If it’s the latter, then move on. Depending on your life and your circumstances, you might not be able to avoid all of the fear mongers in your life, but you can aim to do the following:
● Keep your distance and maintain your boundaries. Now’s the time to put your needs first. Stay focused on your dream and realise that your goals are more important than a nagging and negative friend. A true friend will understand and respect you and your goals.
● Don’t stoop to their level. Until now, you’ve probably played a role in the spread of fear. Think about the role you’ve played - does a certain friend or group of friends come to you just to gossip because they know you will join in? If so, how can you use your words to ignite or diffuse fear? Rather than one-upping your friend’s fear gossip, sit back, listen and respond with a more positive statement.
● Don’t feel obligated to remain close. If the person’s goals, beliefs, and values are in line with yours, then go for it. If not, phase them out.
● Be strong and stand up for yourself. Appearing vulnerable provides an opportunity for the toxic friend to continue to suck the life out of you.
● Create cooling off periods. When fear mongers call, let it go to voice mail. That way you can check the message and gauge where a person is emotionally before engaging with them. If the message is anxious, wait before returning the call. The time lapse might allow the fear monger a chance to move on to another, less fraught, topic.
Stop being so nice
Always saying “yes” when you really mean “no”? Chances are you’ve fallen into the ‘people pleaser’ trap which is bad not only because you’re likely to find you’re always doing things for others rather than yourself, but also because it cannily means you use this as a way to avoid going for your own goals. Break this habit by doing the following:
● Don’t focus on what you think you “should” do. Instead focus on what you want to do.
● Be willing to do what’s best for you, even if that means others around you don’t fully approve. Your happiness matters just as much as the happiness of other people.
● Keep a tally of two things: your needs and how you spend your time. Are you spending any periods on your own needs? If not, re-think your schedule.
● Ask yourself: what will happen if you turn down requests for your help? What will happen if you take time for yourself?
Create a fearless network
Just as some people tend to be fear mongers, others evoke fearlessness. Think of those in your life who put you at ease and make you feel like all is okay with the world; they’re the type of people who believe in you and will encourage you. Read the following questions. If the answer to all three is “yes”, add them to your Fearless Support Team.
✔ Do you admire this person’s ability to embrace change?
✔ Does this person motivate you to strive for something more?
✔ Would you feel comfortable telling this person about your goals?
And now? Take a deep breath, a giant jump, and just go for it!
● Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days is out on April 24, Dhs50, amazon.com