3 Steps to Conquer Fears That Are Holding You Back

 

A few weeks ago, I was asked to do something that terrified me. Abseil face-first down a 33-storey building to raise awareness for Abseil For Youth

My gut reaction was "that is too scary and hard. I can't do it". I could have very easily have said no and let fear get the better of me. Luckily, over the years, I've learnt a few tricks to help overcome fears that held me back for years...

                          I'm the weirdo on the far right...! Upside down? and #FaceFirst! 

                          I'm the weirdo on the far right...! Upside down? and #FaceFirst! 

 

Fear: "I am not good enough" or "I'm not ready"

It's tempting to think "Who I am to do this? I'm not good enough.. I will be judged." Putting yourself out there is scary. Damn scary. Particularly when you don't feel 'ready'.

When I struggled with poor body image, I always thought "When I lose weight, I'll be so happy". For years, I put my life on hold because I was scared of not being accepted as I was.

I kept waiting for the day when I would finally feel comfortable in my body.... but it didn't matter how much weight I lost. Even at my skinniest, I was still terrified of the judgement. 

But what I now know for sure is this: If you keep waiting on the side lines - you will never be ready. 

Instead of hiding behind a kaftan for my entire life, I needed to step out into the world, feel the fear and do it anyway. I realised that my own judgement about what others 'might' think, had been holding me back from living my life for years - I was my worst critic the entire time.  

I needed to challenge my mindset and fears instead of constantly trying to change my body. Realising this was game changing. 

Abseil for Youth (run by the Sir David Martin Foundation) helps youth who feel like they aren't good enough to get through addiction, homelessness and mental health challenges. 

              Pic of someone abseiling down 33-story building face first for Abseil For Youth!

              Pic of someone abseiling down 33-story building face first for Abseil For Youth!

Step 1. Feel the fear - and do it anyway

The only way to get 'ready', is to challenge the fear - face first (see what I did there?) If you always waiting to feel 'ready' before starting - you'll be waiting forever.

You don't need to 'feel ready' to start. You don't need to have all the answers. You will learn along the way.... The good news is that each time you challenge a fear, it becomes easier the next time. Until one day - it is no longer a fear. 

One day, I decided that it was absolute bullshit to be waiting on the sidelines because I was afraid people would judge my body! I realised that this whole time, I was the only one holding myself back from having a good time. 

Step 2. Reframe your self talk

Your biggest critic is yourself. Don't listen to that voice inside your head that says "I can't do this" or "This is too scary". Instead, start repeating "I can do this". Even if you don't believe it at first,  fake it till you make it. 

When I eventually conquered my body demons, I still felt self-conscious about my body, but I bought the bikini and wore it anyway.  And as I did, I thought: "Screw them!" referring to 'other people' who might judge me... But in reality, I was really telling my inner critic that I was done listening to it. I wasn't going to held back by my negative self talk anymore. 

Abseil For Youth supports youth who feel overcoming drug or alcohol addiction is "too scary and hard" and it reassures them with: "You can do it. We believe in you". It is an awesome charity that raises money and awareness for youth going through mental health challenges, drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness. They know the power of reframing self talk. 

Another example: Minutes before Live TV (it's scary!) when I start to feel my heart beating fast and adrenaline pumping, I consciously slow down my breathe (by breathing deeply through my nose) and I say to myself "You can do this". And I continue with big deep breaths and positive self talk until we are live. It works..!  

View from the top of the building! When I was at the top of the building looking down, I was the most scared I have ever been in my life. My brain kept telling me "You can't do it" . I almost believed it too... But I breathed deeply and reminded myself that I can do it. And I did!

View from the top of the building! When I was at the top of the building looking down, I was the most scared I have ever been in my life. My brain kept telling me "You can't do it" . I almost believed it too... But I breathed deeply and reminded myself that I can do it. And I did!

Fear: "If I say 'no', people will be offended".

I am sure you can relate to being a people pleaser and a 'yes' person'. I always used to fear that if I said no, people wouldn't like/respect/approach me again. 

I used to always say 'yes' to please other people because I feel like I don't have a choice. Then, I would end up resenting that I been pressured into saying yes... Which is crazy because I always have a choice! 

It's scary and uncomfortable to do but you have the choice to set up healthy boundaries.

Step 3. Set Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries were always so tricky for me to implement. And even harder to maintain. Until I heard this powerful quote:

Choose discomfort over resentment
— Brené Brown

Meaning, choose to feel fear and be uncomfortable in the short term - to avoid major resentment further down the track. It sure is uncomfortable learning to say 'no' but like all fears, the more you challenge them, the easier it becomes. 

I loved reading "You Are Enough" By Cassie Mendoza-Jones. Actually - everything she writes is amazing. I love her newsletter. Get the book and thank my later ;) 

 

 

Tell me: What fear is holding you back? How does you negative self talk impact on your life? How can you conquer your limiting fears?

Want to be inspired? Follow Abseil for Youth on Facebook or better yet, donate to Abseil For Youth! 

Abseil for Youth is part of the Sir David Martin Foundation and is an organisation that supports youth who reach rock bottom. They help young people struggling with mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness and who really need support. They help them rebuild their lives. 

Take the challenge and raise money for Abseil for Youth next year! 

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A big thank you to all the volunteers who helped out on the day, all the staff at Abseil for Youth and to Red Agency for giving me the opportunity to conquer my fear. I am incredibly grateful that I said yes, when I could have easily said no! 

Lyndi Cohen