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Here’s the thing, if you don’t overcome your fears, you will never get anywhere you want in life. Fear drowns your dreams into a stagnated life and sooner or later you realize yourself living a reality that is far from what you wished for.
The problem with fear is that it makes darkness seem comfortable because it fears being noticed in the light.

But the truth is: fear of failure, fear of judgment or fear of the unknown are all irrational and unnatural states of being. If you can bring some rationalisation (some light) into that confused state, you’ll probably feel much more able to overcome fear and move forward to what you should be doing with your life.

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Here’s an example: my fear of writing.

I started this blog because I had the desire to have a blog, obviously. So I did the whole geeky thing of building a website, and set up the blog. Then I saw myself not anywhere near writing or publishing a single word. Why? Because of fear. Because of thoughts such as:

  • I’m not a good writer”
  • “People will think I’m stupid”
  • “Who am I to say anything”
  • “Nobody will ever read it”

  • And these are just the first that come to my mind about why I never even start to write anything.

    Now, if I was experimenting with some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) on myself, to try to overcome these fears, here’s how it would look like:

    Thought statement 1) “I’m not a good writer.”

    Me Healing:
    – Ok, what evidence do you have of that?

    Me, Fearful:
    – Well. I have never been praised for my writing and I never felt like I had any poetic ability with words.

    (H) – How often to you write?
    (F) – Not often. I wrote a lot for university and I like to write down my dreams. Sometimes I write on my journal too.
    (H) – Do you usually show what you write to other people?
    (F) – Not really.
    (H) – So you can’t really be praised for something you’re not really putting out there, right?
    (F) – Right.
    (H) – So why do you think you’re not a good writer?
    (F) – Because I don’t write.
    (H) – What can you do about it?
    (F) – Start writing.

    (* Pling * – Lamp switches ON!)

    Thought statement 2) “People will think I’m stupid.”

    (H) – What do you think will lead people to think that?
    (F) – I’m afraid I’ll choose superficial topics and English is not my first language so I know I’ll probably be doing some mistakes here and there.
    (H) – What is a superficial topic to you?
    (F) – Don’t know, non-useful stuff I guess.
    (H) – Do you plan on writing non-useful stuff?
    (F) – Well, no. I want to bring a message with what I write.
    (H) – If you’re bringing a message with what you write, do you think people will think you’re stupid?
    (F) – No.
    (H) – What about the mistakes, how could you fix that?
    (F) – I guess I can try to be extra attentive in the editing, and maybe find a friend that can revise the texts for me while I can’t afford to have an editor.
    (H) – Well that sounds like a great idea!

    (Solutions. Yup, starting to feel better.)

    Thought statement 3) “Who am I to say anything?”

    (H) – Who are you not to?

    (This one is deep. ? A good silence should follow for proper mental digestion.)

    Thought statement 4) “Nobody will ever read it.”

    (H) – Do you have any experience with people not reading your stuff?
    (F) – Not really, I never show any writings to anyone.
    (H) – If you don’t show any of your writings how do you expect anyone to read it?
    (H) – I see.
    (F) – How can you solve this?
    (H) – WRITING.

    Et voilà, my fear was just replaced by clear thinking and what seemed to be “good reasons” to not write are now seen for what they are, BS. As a result, I feel much more inspired, and free, to do what I want, which in this case is to write.

    This is the kind of thing that happens when we take a thought and ask ourselves more about it, rather than just letting it continue to float around bugging our mind and tightening our movements. When we’re aware that the fear is there and that we can make an effort to overcome it.

    The questions that can help are mostly something like:

  • what’s the evidence that supports the thought?
  • am I putting the focus on something irrelevant?
  • am I thinking in all-or-nothing terms?
  • what do I want?
  • what can I do to solve this problem?
  • ..and so on.

    In this case, I know I want to share my thoughts and experiences with the world, so every time I have doubts about whether I should keep writing I try to come back to these points of clarity and tell myself to just keep moving on. Nobody’s perfect but practice makes it so.

    And every time I clear out a fearful thought it feels like a cloud dissipating letting another piece of blue sky shine through. And, you know, life strives under the sunshine, then creation can happen and all kinds of possibilities become real. Right?

    Resources for further development:

  • If you want to go deeper on this subject, there’s a fantastic resource on CBT for self-help that you can find on Carol Vivyan’s website that will give you a lot insight on how to understand and work with your mind using the CBT model. But if you have been feeling seriously depressed or anxious you should really seek some one-on-one help.
  • Steven Pressfield book The War of Art is an incredible little book for those who have dreams and projects in mind but feel stuck. In his book he points out resistance as the greatest enemy to accomplishment and explains all about how to overcome this “evil force” and start doing the work. This book had a great impact on my life and it has easily become a reference for me. I honestly cannot recommend it enough.


    About the author

    Ana Batista is a psychologist focused on making change easy. Besides therapy, she teaches online courses and workshops on positive psychology, brain science, and self-authoring. 


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