Ever wondered what it's like to live a more confident, fearless life? Well, here's my Guide to Fearless Living to help you on your journey.
Firstly I'd like to debunk a common myth - that some people are naturally confident and some of us just aren't. While some of us may seem to have inherited more of the confidence gene, I believe we all have the ability to grow more fearless, more confident and stronger in who we are.
Before I talk about fearless living it's important to take a look at what keeps us playing small, what stops us from putting ourselves out there, what keeps us stuck in unfulfilling jobs and relationships, and what prevents us living true to our own values as we seek approval and acceptance from others.
It's one small word, but a word with a lot of impact: fear.
We fear being seen as the "bad guy", we fear the unknown / change, we fear failure and being rejected or judged.
Fear stops us. And the more we dwell on our fears, the more gridlocked we become. So how can we break free and live a more fearless life?
1. Take action!
If you're feeling stuck, you're probably telling yourself that when you have the motivation, the right skillset / education, the inspiration or an opportunity comes your way then you'll take the next step. You procrastinate, you second guess yourself, you get waves of anxiety and panic, you find fault with yourself and tell yourself why you're not good enough.
But you've got it backwards - when you take a step forwards (even if it's a small one) the serotonin hit your brain releases will boost your energy and optimism which naturally motivates you towards the next step forwards. The more small steps you take the more that natural momentum builds until suddenly you've reached your goal. Woo!
2. Focus on what's right for you
People pleasing is a trap many of us fall into. We don't want to hurt others and we fear being judged or rejected. The sad thing is people pleasing causes us to lose touch with ourselves and neglect own happiness & well-being.
Putting everyone else first often leads to burnout, anxiety and depression. It also leads to unhealthy relationships (I'll write more on this in a future article).
So how do you move forward from people pleasing and learn to live more fearlessly? The most important step is to take full responsibility for your own happiness and well-being. This isn't so much something to ponder. It's a decision to make.
If you're taking responsibility for your happiness & well-being you're going to be living differently. You'll speak up, give your opinion, let other people know (with grace) when they've upset you so you can both move on from it without it souring your relationship.
You'll start listening to yourself more, have the courage to be yourself in the world and trust in your decisions. This may all sound daunting, but trust me it's an amazing journey. I've done it and I know you can too! The important thing to know is that like riding a bike it's going to feel awkward at first, but the more you practice the easier it gets. And the easier your life gets!
Ask yourself regularly what do you want and need and communicate that with those you love. You are an equal to others in your life and when you start giving yourself the same care, attention and appreciation you do with others, you'll also notice these changes will ripple out and benefit your other relationships too!
3. Chunking is your friend
Instead of focusing on the whole challenge that you're facing which can seem overwhelming, break the challenge down into small tasks. Just focus on the first small step you need to take and tackle that, then the next and so on... This makes your goal seem much less scary and more achievable.
4. Cultivate an attitude of bravery
Courage comes not from acting in the absence of fear, but from feeling the fear AND still taking positive actions towards your goals until you achieve them. This is true courage and bravery.
Even though it might feel terrifying, be relentless - don't let fear stop you - let it be your friend to show you where you can grow and what exciting new experiences you can have when you take those steps into the unknown. That's where all your learning, personal growth, excitement and new experiences lie!
5. Be your own coach
Cultivate your own personal coach in your head! This means having your own back (especially when the chips are down), talking kindly to yourself and encouraging yourself by saying encouraging statements to yourself when you're feeling anxious or tentative like "even though this is hard, I can do it", "I've done this before and I can do this again", "I'm going to feel proud of myself when I've achieved this step today" etc. Keep on reminding yourself of your skills and positive qualities, give yourself that mental push you need and give yourself a genuine pat on the back at the end of the day. Acknowledging our genuine efforts (even if things don't work out as expected) is a great way to build healthy self esteem.
6. Say goodbye to perfectionism & blame
You are a human (I"m guessing here). As a human it is impossible to be perfect. No matter how hard you try you can't achieve it! Expecting such an impossible high standard of ourselves and berating ourselves when we don't achieve it creates a huge amounts of stress and anxiety which impacts our self esteem and well-being and can lead to depression. This way of thinking just doesn't give us any wiggle room to be human. To stuff up and try again.
Take that giant weight off yourself by giving yourself permission to be happy with average, Or good even! Give yourself permission to fail and make mistakes. Note, if you fail at something that doesn't mean you're a failure as a person. Successful people use mistakes and failures as an opportunity to grow and learn something new or to change something. It's a state of mind you can cultivate.
You can apply this way of thinking to any area of your life. Chuck out the old blame, criticism and shame. You don't need that anymore, can you be positive about yourself even if you fail at something (recognising it's probably not the end of the world) or if someone's having a stressful morning and snaps at you? This is what self acceptance looks like.
Welcome to fearless living.