“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ― Marianne Williamson
All of us are afraid of something. Whether it’s deciding to take that leap of faith into a new business venture, starting or finishing school, entering into parenthood or a new relationship. We all have our moments (or hours or days) when we question and sometimes believe that we are not smart enough, not productive enough, not talented enough or not something enough to do the things we desire to do. Some of us allow that fear to propel us forward, while the majority of us may allow that fear to paralyze us.
There are days when we feel confident, when we believe in our own abilities and that gives us some hope in moving forward in our endeavors. But it can be hard to remember those moments of confidence and positivity when we sit in feelings of self-doubt and question whether or not we could ever measure up to the sky-high success of the successful women (and men) we follow and admire.
All of us have experienced fear in our lives, in fact as you’re reading this I’m sure you can name a few fears you have right now. I’m surprised when I hear some of the fears and insecurities of women I admire, those who are closest to me and those who are not. I think to myself, “she seems to have it all together. How can she be fearful of anything?”. We believe in the abilities and talents of others, we admire them, but doubt ourselves and our capabilities. We can encourage others and tell others they can do anything they put their mind to, but we allow fear to manifest in ourselves to the point where years have gone by and we are in the same place.
What is it that holds us back? What are we really afraid of? Why don’t we try new things or make the necessary steps to accomplish our goals? Where did this fear come from and how to we overcome?
The quote above says that our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We aren’t afraid of not being good enough, we are afraid of being so much more than we imagined. When you put it like that, it does sound scary. When people tell me they are were touched by one of my devotionals or one of my blog posts, it scares me. Sure that is what I want to do, I want to inspire and encourage people, but to actually do it is scary.
What is fear?
There are a lot of varying factors that contribute to the fears and self-doubt we experience. The key is to be able to recognize the source to be able to work through it, not to sit in it. I believe that fear starts from within, it’s a lack of feeling safe or secure within (or insecure). The opposite of being scared is being secure. If you are not secure within it is possible that fear will manifest and our normal human reaction to fear is to run, cling to something that may provide temporary relief or safety, or to do nothing. Three of the biggest factors or results that contribute to our fears and self-doubt are comparison, self-pressure and excuses.
We can say that we don’t compare ourselves to others, but we do. In a society that is now so heavily engrossed in social media, it’s hard not to get so caught up in what others are doing, viewing their success and then compare it to our not-so-successful lives. We look at someone who is doing what we would like to do, whether it’s blogging, photography, hair, makeup, owning a successful business, owning a home, married, etc., and in our eyes and according to society these are all markers of success. We compare it to where we are right now and that’s where those insecurities start to creep in. We may feel we aren’t good enough, we aren’t doing enough or that we will never make it to the level of the person with whom we compare ourselves. Once those thoughts manifest in our mind and spirit, that fear develops. We may be on the right track to accomplishing our goals and making moves, but the moment that spirit of comparison manifests itself we become paralyzed with fear. When we are constantly looking at what someone else is doing and compare it to what we are not doing, it becomes exhausting.
I don’t know how many times I’ve scrolled through Instagram and saw what some of the “successful” people I admire are doing and immediately allowed myself to feel pressured to do more and then the feelings of self-doubt and fear began. It has even gotten to the point where I sometimes have to take breaks from social media and re-focus on what I’m doing and not allow myself to get distracted or caught up in comparing, but to only use social media as a tool for inspiration. I read a quote that says, “Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle”. This simply means that what you see from those of success via social media didn’t occur overnight. They were once (and probably still are) where you are. You are just beginning and your level of success may be different from theirs. Define what success means to you and go from there. Take a break from social media if you have to, it’s okay!
As women we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the best at everything. I think society plays a part in this and we contribute to and perpetuate this mindset/behavior. This can cause fear as well. When you accomplish certain tasks for yourself, naturally you may set the next marker or bar even higher. For women there is always pressure to do more. Nowadays, it’s not enough to just be a stay-at-home mom, you have to either be working a 9-5 or have a side hustle and still manage to take care of your children, spouse and home. This can be scary.
I’ve been told that I’m a perfectionist. I’m very hard on myself and I often struggle with trying to be the best at what I do and not make any mistakes. If I make a mistake at something I beat myself up. The fear of not being good enough and fear of failure has definitely manifested itself within me to the point of perfectionism. I know that I have to get to a point of telling myself that it’s okay to not have it together all the time and to do the very best I can each day.
“I don’t have a degree”, “I have to wait until my child(ren) gets older”, “Now is not the time”, “I don’t have time”, “I don’t have any money”, etc. These are just some of the many excuses we use as to why we won’t take the plunge in accomplishing our goals, try new things in life or even walk in our purpose. Because of fear we allow our minds to be filled with every excuse we can think of as to why we can’t make a better life for ourselves. I think it’s great to have goals and a vision and to speak on those things which we want, but those things stay where they are if there is no action behind what we speak and dream. We all have a purpose to fulfill, we aren’t just here by accident, but it’s up to us to seek God to understand that purpose and not allow ourselves to be so overfilled with fear that we make excuses.
I don’t know how many times I’ve put off something that I knew I should have done with an excuse as to why I couldn’t do it. I look up and years have passed, years that I can’t get back, years that I could have been walking in my purpose all because of excuses. What excuses are you making as to why you can’t do something different in your life? One of my favorite songs says, “you want something you’ve never got you’ve got to do something you’ve never done”. I truly believe that. We say what we want but we’re too afraid to go out and get it.
10 Ways to Overcome the fears that hold you back
1. Be honest with yourself about your fears – The first step to overcoming anything is to speak on it. You must be honest with yourself about your fears and why you are fearful. Figure out where that fear is coming from and what you are doing to feed it to the point of paralysis.
2. Write them down – I’m big on writing things down. It’s one thing to think about something, but to write it down helps to make it clear and tangible. Write down your fears, the things you want to accomplish but are afraid to and what you would do if you were fearless.
3. Determine what is realistic vs. what is NOT – You probably can’t just up and quit your job to pursue your dream because you have a family to take care of, whereas someone else may be able to do this. BUT you can spend extra time in the evening or on the weekends pursuing your dream. It’s important to determine what is realistic for you so that you’re not allowing fear to hold you back. Stop trying to go the same path someone else went, you may be feeding your fears. What worked for someone else may not work for you!
4. Be open with someone you trust about your fears – Sometimes talking with other women can help a lot. You’d be surprised to learn that some of your closest friends and/or some of the women you admire struggled or struggle with the same type of fears. It helps to bring some normalcy to your life and helps you feel like you aren’t alone.
5. Develop goals for yourself based on your own definition – I’m all about developing goals (daily, monthly and yearly). I love it. But developing goals has to be based on your own definition of success, your own terms. What the rest of the world sees as success may not be your definition and that’s okay. You may only want to reach 5 people in a year and that’s your marker for success, whereas someone else may want to reach 500. Only you can define what’s best for you according to God’s will for your life.
6. Focus on what you do right – It’s only one YOU and no one can do you better that YOU! Don’t compare yourself to what someone else is doing. What’s yours is yours and no one can take that away. God has a purpose for everyone’s life and no two lives are the same. You, too, have something to contribute to the world. Find out what that is and do your best at it. Perfect your craft and the gift God has given you.
7. Encourage yourself the same way you would encourage someone else – Why do we find it so difficult to encourage ourselves, but not other people? Sometimes you have to encourage yourself, speak to yourself the same way you would someone else. Try doing this every morning when you look in the mirror. You’d be surprised at how it helps you move forward.
8. Ask yourself why you aren’t doing something you would love to do – My aunt asked me one time, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I had a list of things I would do and then she asked why I wasn’t doing those things. I guess because I was afraid and really didn’t realize it. You have to ask yourself why you haven’t pursued that dream. Sure there may be several factors why, but I’m certain there is something you can be doing today to get to where to you want to be. Take an online class, do some freelance work, start a blog based on your specialty, connect with someone who’s doing what you want to do and have them mentor you. There’s at least one step you can take today.
9. Take the first step – That’s all it takes to get started is just one step. God can do so much more in your life, but He may be waiting on you. Sometimes all you have to do is start, but determine what that start is for you. It doesn’t have to be big or overwhelming, but it has to be a start.
10. Make note of your accomplishments along the way; reward yourself – If you have a vision board or you journal, make note of your accomplishments. If you accomplish something on your vision board or your goal list, pat yourself on the back, reward yourself with your favorite treat. It took a lot to make those steps and work towards overcoming your fears, it’s not easy and you should affirm yourself for making moves.
I hope that this post was as encouraging to you as it was to me (I’m encouraging myself as I wrote this). I struggle with fears to this day, but I know that God has a purpose for my life and there is someone who needs to be poured into. Don’t allow your fears to hold you back. No matter what Satan tells you, you are destined for more!
Until next time…