Fears are funny little beliefs we have that trigger chemical reactions in us. They usually mean different things for different people. The same thing that scares someone to death, like jumping out of a plane, is a sport that someone like Guinness World Record holder Don Kellner has done over 42,000 times since 1961, purely for fun!
Here are important steps to help you in your quest to truly tackle your fears for good and find true freedom. Reference them when you are getting frustrated in your personal growth. Most importantly, practice them! Practicing new behaviors is the only way to permanently change your brain chemistry, and ultimately, your actions, your personality, and your life.
STOP GIVING A CRAP WHAT OTHERS THINK
Every single journal entry I wrote before the age of twenty-four featured the same theme over and over: they always referenced someone else. “Spent the day with Joe at the park . . .” “Katie and I hung out at her house and drank green tea . . .” “Hung out with Paul and Zack today . . .” Page after page focused on other people.
Think about what relationships are ruling you. Maybe you’re ruled by your relationships to people, drugs, teachers, strangers, food, family, or a significant other. It may have taken years, but you must finally no longer be willing to entertain anyone else’s thoughts of you or what you should be doing with your life or your time. Your time is precious – it is yours and yours alone. People may not find value in the same things you find value in. That’s okay – do not let it derail you, because…
PEOPLE ARE WRONG
Okay, okay. They’re not always wrong. But their opinion is not always going to be yours, either.
I certainly don’t dismiss other people’s opinions or advice. In fact, when I realized that other people were totally fallible, for the first time in my life, this is when I actually truly heard them. I saw myself listening for the first time ever. I took advice, I considered things people told me about myself without getting insulted or defensive. I improved on my behaviors, I got nicer in my speech, and I adopted new words and mannerisms to express myself. However, I also saw other people’s opinions for exactly what they were: their own beliefs, based on their own life experience, and they were just a fallible as I was.
People are subject to human error. And that’s okay! (It just means they’re not robots.) It’s important to acknowledge that human error shows up in all kinds of ways. Make a promise to yourself to stop getting offended and defensive about how other people think you should live. Simply listen.
REALIZE OTHER PEOPLE’S BELIEFS CHANGE
If other people were just as fallible as I was, that meant that just like my opinions, their opinions could change. They often had. First of all, as far as I was concerned, everyone else had been dead wrong about what I was capable of for as long as I could remember. I had heard I “couldn’t do everything” and that I had to start “being realistic” my entire life. I was always discouraged from doing things “my way.” Even at my progressive college, my four mentors (the classic average was one—two at most) sat me down to advise me to “concentrate on acting.”
I asked them all, Why?
When I finally started to realize that I could do whatever I put my mind to regardless of anyone else’s opinions, and that “being realistic” was the surest way to dissolve my dreams for another five years, I started to take other people’s opinions with a grain of salt. They had their place if they were positive, but other than that I wasn’t going to stand around and be told what I could not do.
Ironically, the second I started to accomplish my goals, other people’s opinions about what I was capable of changed immediately. Suddenly it was expected that everything I did was wildly successful and fun, because that was the image I had created by living my life that way. This helped me evaluate what I really could do and inspired me to become more and more a person that former naysayers now believed in.
Since then I’ve learned that finding this conviction is the difference. It’s the difference between getting the job during the interview and losing it to the next person. It’s the difference between continuing your business in its current direction and knowing when you need to change course. It’s the difference between creating a life of stability and always feeling like you’re a few steps behind.
Once you have a foundation for who you want to be, and you begin to accomplish those goals, you are setting the stage for other people’s opinions of you. Recognize that other people are also human, beautiful, fallible, funny, fucked up, and everything in between. More importantly what other people say does not determine who you are. This is crucial to lasting change.
LEAVE JUDGMENTS AT THE DOOR
Take the time to pause before you judge someone—at least out loud. You can’t take your words back. When we pause, we can even start to rephrase our thoughts about a certain someone or even about the situation itself. When we step back from judgment, we can truly begin to reevaluate what place it has in our lives. We begin to get control of our own mind.
In order to stop being ruled by my relationships immediately, I made it simple for myself: if I had a judgment, question, or theory about someone else’s life choices, I just asked them about it. I noticed (in pretty short order) that many people got very defensive when I asked them about their lives or plans or current situations, and that was because I was, in essence, being judgmental. But a lot of people opened up to me. And after a few days of this I realized how silly (and hypocritical) it was of me to have judgments about anyone else at all, and how much time it had taken away from my own life and my own goals speculating about who Brad was seeing or what Marcy was doing or how my Aunt felt about something I did five years ago.
I literally just stopped. I was done wasting my time.
STOP TRYING TO CHANGE THEM:
Like attracts like. People want to be around people who are like them—or better yet, people who make them better! Strive to make everyone and everything around you better, and watch as they miraculously become so.
Trying to change people sure did make me realize how silly it is to try to change anyone or anything but myself. I found way more productive things to do immediately, like meditate, write, go for a run, or work on my personal power.
JUST DO IT:
If you want your life to look differently, if you want to see the world, or start running, or lose weight, or start a business, or write a book, or quit your job, there is only one way to get there: Do It. Putting the blame on others for your faults, or giving yourself excuses not to live the life you want because of what other people may think, is depriving yourself of what you know you truly deserve. So whatever, whoever you want to be, put it out into the world. If you do this, people around you will follow suit.
Try it sincerely, and you’ll see!
Photos by Arielle Levy
This article is a slightly adapted excerpt from my #1 bestselling book, Cured by Nature, which you can grab here.