Most of us have been told in our lives that we should confront our fears rather than let them stew. I’m personally terrified of heights to the point that watching Up (yes, the animated Disney movie) actually gave me nightmares. I’ve made resolutions to try and get over that fear countless times — telling myself this is the year I’ll finally get on a roller coaster or ferris wheel and shake the fear right out of me — but I have yet to actually be brave enough to follow through. On a more subtle yet still significant level, that’s something most of us can admit we’re guilty of when it comes to all the things in life that intimidate us on a daily basis.
Whether it’s putting off making an important phone call or not allowing yourself to be open to new romance, it’s all too easy to avoid those issues entirely and focus on something else. We tend to opt for quick-fixes rather than treating the bigger problems in our lives. For example, as Jacqueline McElhone explains on Career Contessa: “Have you ever been stressed, and you can’t really pinpoint why — until you pay your phone bill and simultaneously release your clenched jaw — realizing that was it the whole time?” She elaborates by saying most of us would rather just take ibuprofen when our jaws hurt rather than get to the root of why we clench our jaw to the point that it becomes so painful. That’s because so many of us have been programmed to put our work, friends, pets, families, and other factors before our own wellbeing.
Jacqueline also addresses another major way we tend to hold ourselves back: “We’re afraid of being great. We’re afraid of reaching our potential.” If we don’t give our all to something that doesn’t end up how we hoped, we have that feeling of, “oh well, at least I didn’t try that hard,” to fall back on rather than accept any sort of failure from which we might actually learn something.
In order to truly reflect on ourselves and effectively achieve our goals, Jacqueline recommends writing out a list of all the things that intimidate us. That in itself might seem too intimidating — just thinking about seeing all of the things that scare you the most listed in such a matter-of-fact way. After all, we avoid them for a reason — but that’s why putting them in front of our face and then asking why those things are so intimidating is more effective than just thinking about them. Writing it out on paper rather than a note on your phone or computer not only creates a physical manifestation of the issues, but will also help free you from any distractions getting in the way of you being honest with yourself.
You can take just few moments to jot things down or spend a whole week noting all of the intimidating factors you face on a daily basis. Either way, the most important part is actually taking the time to unpack all the underlying cause of each intimidating thing in your life. It might not be easy at first, but you’ll be taking huge strides in self-growth, confidence building, and ultimately becoming the best version of yourself.