4 Steps To Turn Your Fears Into Fuel!

It’s My Time Now: Kavita Ahuja

Every morning, Susan wakes up and sees a picture of a glorious mountain peak hanging on her wall. It is majestic, blanketed with snow and rising brilliantly above the clouds.

Meet Susan.

“In fact, she has been dreaming of climbing this one particular mountain for many years.”

Susan dreams of climbing that mountain one day. In fact, she has been dreaming of climbing this one particular mountain for many years. 

Take The First Step:

It has been five years since she has done any climbing. And her previous climbs were smaller, more manageable peaks. On these climbs, she felt comfortable and competent to complete what she started. Yet, this one particular peak has eluded her, so much so that she has been stopped in her tracks to do any other kind of climbing since then.

What is stopping her? And what is stopping you from climbing your proverbial mountain?

Whether it is an actual physical mountain like Susan’s, or metaphorical mountaintops we place in our path, we are all faced with the decision – to climb, or not to climb? What stops us from taking the first step?

According to Zig Ziglar, “Fear has 2 meanings: Forget Everything And Run, or Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours.”

What Is Fear, Really?

Fear is, “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous. Likely to cause pain, or a threat”. (Oxford Dictionary)

Some fears, such as real environmental dangers (a tornado approaching or a wild animal about to attack you) are definitely real and imminent. We have all heard of the flight or fight response, where our sympathetic nervous system is activated with these immediate threats and prepares the body to fight or flee.

“This is the fear that Susan is facing as she thinks about climbing that mountain.”

Other fears, however, are imagined. These are usually in response to future events or the unknown. This is the fear that Susan faces as she thinks about climbing that mountain. These fears cause us to ask ourselves: “what will happen, if…?” “I won’t be able to do this because…”

How To Turn Fear Into Fuel!

Imagined fears are just that – imagined. They come from our thoughts. Thoughts turn into emotions, which in turn lead to action (or non-action). Notice the definition of fear is that it is an emotion or belief. What if we didn’t have the thoughts which fueled the negative emotions, which in turn caused inaction? How can we turn the fear into fuel, rather than causing us to brake?

As mentioned, it is our thoughts which cause us to create the emotion of fear, which in turn leads to inaction. So how can we begin to overcome our imagined fears?

The following are 4 simple ways to do so.

1. Change Your Thoughts!

It sounds simple, yet indeed, the process of changing our negative thoughts to positive ones is a practice we must learn. 

“When we bring in the Sage perspective, we look upon each challenge as a gift and opportunity.”

Imagine two personalities that we have sitting on our shoulders. On the one hand, we have the Saboteur. This side of us is always generating negative thoughts and catastrophizing. We’ve all heard them. It’s the voice in our head that won’t relent and whines and complains and can grind our own gears.

On the other hand, we have access to endless wisdom, which we will call the Sage. The Sage is full of ancestral wisdom and guides us through each challenge with grace. In Positive Psychology, we learn that our thoughts are, unfortunately, controlled in large part by the Saboteur.

Types Of Saboteurs:

There are many types of Saboteurs, but the ultimate reason for their existence is to keep us safe and keep us within our comfort zone. The process of going from the Saboteur’s negative thoughts to positive or “Sage” thoughts is three-fold:

  1. Recognize when the Saboteur makes its presence, 
  2. Challenge the negative thoughts it brings, and 
  3. Bring in the Sage perspective

When we bring in the Sage perspective, we look upon each challenge as a gift and opportunity.

2. Focus On The Present Moment:

Many of our fears and even our hopes come from thinking about a future event. And, all the consequences of what could happen if that event occurs. For example, in Susan’s case, she may believe that once she finally climbs that elusive mountain, she will finally be happy and fulfilled. 

As humans, we often tie our happiness to a future event, and in the process, we don’t enjoy the present moment. What if we brought that feeling – of fulfillment, happiness, achievement – into the present moment?

If we did that, then our happiness would not be tied to a future event – instead we can live each moment to the fullest, with gratitude. This is the “Sage” perspective on life.

3. Take One Step At A Time:

This does not mean we shouldn’t set goals for ourselves. But those goals should not be tied to our happiness.

If Susan’s reasons for climbing that mountain are because she thinks it will finally make her happy, she is doing it for the wrong reasons. Think about the real reasons you want to do something, and ask yourself, “can I bring that feeling into the present moment?”

“If you break down that goal into achievable milestones, it won’t seem so daunting”

Part of Susan’s fears results from her thinking of the many steps and hardships she will encounter along the way. She is looking up at the entire mountain, and that causes her to stop in her tracks. 

If, instead, Susan broke down her climb into manageable steps and asked herself, “can I do this portion first, and then the next?” the climb would not be so daunting.

Goals Into Achievable Milestones:

It is the same with life. Think about a goal you want to achieve – maybe starting a new business, leaving a job, doing a big presentation, or another big goal you have for yourself. If you think about ALL the things you must do to achieve that all at once, you will become overwhelmed and, no doubt – will not even start.

If you break down that goal into achievable milestones, it won’t seem so daunting, and you will take that first step. So don’t look at the whole staircase in front of you; take one step at a time and watch the fears melt away as you conquer each step along the way.

“Our thoughts turn into things.”

4. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Like anything in life, if we don’t practice –  it is challenging to perfect our craft. Practice creates resilience and is like a muscle. Practice recognizing those negative thoughts or Saboteurs as they arise.

Make it a point to practice challenging those negative thoughts and ask yourself – “is this thought accurate?” Moreover, practice turning those negative thoughts into a Sage perspective – “how can I spin that fear positively?” 

The Present Moment:

Practice focusing on the present moment and bringing gratitude to the present moment, and not worrying about the future consequences of what could happen. Practice taking one step at a time to conquer one task at a time – this will build your confidence, so eventually, you WILL climb the entire mountain. 

Our thoughts turn into things. If you think you can’t do something – you probably won’t. It’s a step-by-step process – from thoughts to feelings to action. It’s ok to have that picture of the mountain on your wall – but BELIEVE you can climb it, and you most certainly will!

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