Whether we’re afraid of public speaking, spiders, the death of a loved one, or something more unusual, we all hold on to certain fears that we resist facing. It’s natural to shrink from them, and some fears – like spiders – are just plain hard to be proactive about conquering.
Others, however, stem from half-truths we believe about ourselves or a situation, and they’re something we can work on.
But what does it take to release the grip these beliefs have on us? When we distort the truth of a situation in our mind, we prevent ourselves from reaching our true potential and achieving our dreams. Perhaps we’ve been wanting to quit our job, go back to school, change our major, or step into a new relationship, but we feel overwhelmed or incapable of doing so. In order to overcome these fears, we must ask: What lies are we telling ourselves that are keeping us from doing these things?
As a writer, I’ve often struggled with the fear that I have nothing new or insightful to share, feeling as if the things I write are not capable of resonating with or encouraging others. In fact, for a long time these thoughts prevented me from writing altogether. It wasn’t until I voiced these fears aloud to a few mentors that I was able to detangle the half-truths I’d been telling myself and to recognize what makes my voice and perspective a unique one.
No matter what fear we wish to face — writing or otherwise — we must first recognize its root. In many cases, our fears stem from beliefs not about who we are, but about who we’re not. We’re afraid of overcoming something or pursuing our dreams because we just can’t fathom that we could ever be the kind of people capable of achieving those things. Discussing these doubts out loud with a trusted friend or mentor, however, is useful for bringing our thoughts to light and providing an objective look at both ourselves and our situation, while also giving us the encouragement we need to move past our fear. Once we acknowledge what it is we’ve been avoiding, we can then make a plan to face it, taking one small step and then another until ultimately, we’ll find we’ve overcome it.
Unless we intentionally and directly face our fears, we’ll never be able to go beyond our perceived limitations and accomplish our dreams. In writer Joseph Campbell’s words,
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.
What fears are you holding onto right now? What’s preventing you from overcoming them? Write them below in declaration of facing them.
Image via Lisa Diederich