Are You Seized By Fear?

There is no illusion greater than fear.

Fear is all around us and has been instilled in us since we were young children; even in the subtle ways that our parents/guardians, teachers, and friends interacted with us by asking us, “Are you sure….?” or “Be careful of…” and these fears were almost necessary as a child for our survival. However; as an adult, we hold onto fear and even let it control our lives. It affects us in ways unbeknownst to us, causing worry, hesitation, anxiety, avoidance and more. Fear can make us feel like we’re not capable, worthy, or ready. Fear is what stops us from following our dreams, asking for that deserved promotion or raise at work, pursuing someone we’re attracted to, or from going outside your comfort zone and developing personal growth. All the emotions tied to fear, when left unchecked, lead to an unhealthy lifestyle… we’ll overeat, over exercise and injure ourselves, find distractions (like my drug abuse), or you simply avoid life all together. Here’s the thing: As an adult, we can redevelop our thought patterns and reframe situations and control how we handle fear. We can become more mindful and conscious of fear and ask yourselves why we’re feeling fearful and then focusing on the “what ifs” in a positive manner. For me, I recognize that I’m fearful of many things going on right now:

  • I’m trying to write a book that’s part autobiography and part self-help (how to level up). You can ask anyone who’s written a book (or even a blog post) and most of them will admit that it’s scary. But, instead of focusing on the scariness of it, I’m choosing to focus on the positive “what ifs.” What if this book or blog post helps someone breakthrough as it resonates with them or someone close to them? What if this helps me grow my business?
  • I’m also trying to put on an event for the first time called Active For Recovery Bike Ride and I’m fearful that the event won’t be as great as I’m imagining or that I won’t raise as much money as I’d like. But focusing on those negatives held me back from starting this event a year earlier when I first started talking about it with people. Now, I’ve learned that the positives of the event far outweigh the negatives. At the absolute very least, the event will raise awareness of drug addiction and recovery.

You see, fear can be just a temporary thing, but most of us get caught up in this fear and let it control our lives, we let fear feel like it’s our entire world. Think about this:

  • Some of the most successful people in the world, who have made great accomplishments, originally had no idea what they were doing when they started. Do you really think Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla had any idea what they were doing when they first started playing around with electricity? Richard Branson had no idea what he was really doing when he started Virgin Atlantic, as he previously only had background with music record labels (Virgin Records).
  • You have endured life so far. You didn’t always know how to walk, ride a bike, lift weights, work on a computer, or do whatever you enjoy doing. Most likely, you had to endure the initial struggle of learning. Your probably fell or flat out failed a few times, but you survived. You’re reading this blog post now.

So, when fearful thoughts begin creeping into your mind. Recognize it, don’t hide from it. Trust yourself and remember that in each moment, you will be ok. Take action, the first step, toward whatever your goal is or whatever would help you conquer that fear. But learn to trust in this perceived discomfort, this ok-ness. Imagine yourself enjoying the struggle of obtaining your dreams, rather than fearing it. Once you become more conscious of your fear, becoming more ok with it and the present, and trusting in yourself, you will upgrade your “childhood” tools into “adult” tools so you can become more equipped to deal with life and pursue what you’re passionate about.

A Poem to Live By

The Man In The GlassThe Man In The Glass

By Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

The Power of Self Affirmations

Feel great act great and approve of yourselfOne mental skill that I’ve been working on over the past couple months has been self affirmation: “the recognition and assertion of the existence and value of one’s individual self.” It’s also a skill that’s mentioned in one of my favorite books, The Art of Mental Training – A Guide to Performance Excellence. Originally, I had an issue with self affirmations. I was worried that it would make me arrogant and make me less humble; however, it has turned into an extremely useful skill, especially as an entrepreneur and athlete.

As an Entrepreneur

Throughout the day, I tell myself who I want to be: “I am a health coach who helps people overcome whatever is holding them back from a healthy, active, and thriving life.” That sentence gets tweaked here and there, but it’s generally who I want to be. Am I currently a certified health coach? No, but I’m working toward it. I’m so deeply passionate about building Get Leveled Up so that I can help as many people as possible overcome their struggles with addiction, depression, and/or weight and, most importantly, I want to provide them the tools in life so that they can begin to thrive. I can’t do any of that if I’m not confident in myself. When I talk to people about what I’m trying to do, I need my confidence to come through so that they believe in it as much as I do.

As an Athlete

I’m probably not considered an “athlete” by standard definition, but I don’t care. I tell myself that I’m an athlete anyway and it feels amazing as I’ve never been been athletic until the past year. This is where I’ve really built some mental toughness through self affirmation.

A positive attitude helps create the opportunity for a great comeback or for a great performance— A positive attitude never works against you. But a negative attitude will always find a way to work against you. Even if one finds a way to win despite a bad attitude, the fact is that he could always have performed better still.” The Art of Mental Training (p. 25)

While preparing for my first triathlon this Saturday, I’ve been laying the self affirmation on thick all week. I tell myself that my training with Body By Boris and Karyn Austin have prepared me for this. I imagine myself having an awesome swim, transitioning into a smooth bike ride, and finishing it off with a nice run to the finish line. Not only do I imagine crossing the finish line, but I imagine how I’ll feel. Sure, I’ll be tired and worn out, but I’ll feel accomplished and proud.

In Life

In every day life, practicing self affirmation techniques by reflecting on your training or on how far you’ve come can be beneficial overall. In the psychology journal PLOS ONE, there was a study of 73 college students who reported high levels of stress over the course of a month. The researchers had half of the students do a self affirmation exercise (like writing about certain values), the other half did a control exercise. Researchers found “that chronically stressed individuals have impaired problem-solving performance and that self-affirmation can boost problem-solving performance under pressure.”

What are your self affirmations?

Please share your self affirmations or other techniques below! I’d love to hear them!

How “The Untethered Soul” Helped Silence My Inner Critic

The Untethered SoulI’ve never been much of an avid reader growing up. In fact, I hated reading throughout most of middle school and high school, with the exception being The Great Gatsby which I loved and read in it’s entirety. Perhaps it was because my teachers often asked students to discuss the reading, which always made me uncomfortable with my social anxieties and being overweight. However, over the past year I have started reading more and more, digging in to learn more about nutrition, fitness, addictions, and mindfulness. While a lot of books have taught me a great deal, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer has undoubtedly made a huge impact on my life. When I was addicted to drugs, I loved how they would seemingly silence my inner voice, or at least it seemed like I was in more control. I looked to drugs for an outlet, to get away from it all. I didn’t want to have to deal with life. I didn’t want to think about my dad passing away. I wanted to escape my inner critic. You know that voice, everybody does. Mine was telling me how much I was going to fail in life. My inner critic was telling me how unattractive I was. It would tell me that everyone, including close friends and family, were judging me, laughing at me. Constantly judging. Basically, my inner critic was an asshole… and I listened to it everyday. So, when I first heard about The Untethered Soul, I thought, “What a bunch of hippie nonsense. It’s impossible to deal with your inner critic without being on something.” But, I figured I’d give it a shot. In the first chapter, I was interested when I read “there is no reason to constantly attempt to figure everything out. Eventually you will see the real cause of problems is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes the problem.” However, it was in the second chapter, your inner roommate, that this book had my attention. Singer makes you think of your inner critic like a roommate sitting next to you while watching TV.

“Did you turn off the light downstairs? You better go check. Not now, I’ll do it later. I want to finish watching the show. No, do it now. That’s why the electric bill is so high.”   You sit in silent awe, watching all of this. Then, a few seconds later, your couch-mate is engaged in another dispute:   “Hey, I want to get something to eat! I’m craving some pizza. No, you can’t have pizza now; it’s too far to drive. But I’m hungry. When will I get to eat?”   To your amazement, these neurotic bursts of conflicting dialogue just keep going on and on.

Ninety-nine percent of your thoughts are a complete waste of time. They do nothing but freak you out.… and I listened to every single one of those neurotic bursts! Previously, I never externalized my inner critic, but this practice really clicked with me. When I started practicing this in everyday life, I would often find myself telling my “roommate” to get the heck out and never come back, “He’s a freakin jerk!” Nuggets of wisdom and insight keep on going throughout the book. Singer asks readers questions like, “Who sees when I see? Who hears when I hear?” You would think the answer to these questions is “me,” but is that truly the case? Singer takes you on a journey of discovering that “You are not your thoughts; you are aware of your thoughts. You are not your emotions; you feel your emotions. You are not your body; you look at it in the mirror and experience this world through its eyes and ears. You are the conscious being who is aware that you are aware of all these inner and outer things.” The Untethered Soul is definitely a book that makes you question everything, but has helped me become less anxious and feel more in control of my life. I still sometimes struggle with my inner critic, but when I find myself straying away on a neurotic burst I remember to externalize him and kick him out. In addition, using tools for meditation like Headspace have also been incredibly helpful. Have you read this book or a similar book that has made a profound impact on your life? If so, please share below in the comments!