If you’re anything like me and the millions of other people in the world that struggle with anxiety, or literally anyone who’s felt normal human feelings before, the concept of fear has played some sort of role in your life.
As children, fear was treated as a normal and accepted part of living life and was a major part in how we developed natural responses to our environment. While discovering our world that is, of course, brand new to all of us when we first enter it, we had this wonderful innocence and optimism about us; nothing could go wrong because we didn’t know what could go wrong!
Like a new puppy that just got brought home for the first time, we ran blindly toward whatever shiny object, wild animal, or new place we wanted to because we hadn’t learned what to be afraid of yet or even how to be afraid at all! All we knew is that “I like that and I want it because it makes me feel happy, and I like to feel happy”.
It wasn’t until we bumped our head for the first time, got our first bee sting, or mom and dad scolded us about touching that/going there that we first learned about fear and started being motivated by it. As we grew up and started to encounter so many new stressors in life, fear became a familiar friend as there was so much we had yet to learn.
Fast forward to our adult lives and fear becomes about deeper, internal struggles we might face. The stakes get higher, we have seemingly so much to lose, and feeling secure often becomes our top priority.
This has very often become the case for me and many others in their twenties who are, in a sense, just born into the adult world. Although we’ve had 20-something years of experience being on this earth, it often feels like we’re back to square one where we were just stumbling around like 1-year-olds taking their first steps!
The only difference is that now we do have fear about a lot of things. We might feel like we’re constantly fearful about the future – that our careers won’t be as we envisioned, that our relationships won’t be as fulfilling as we’d hoped, or that we’ll never be able to afford that house (for all of my fellow Californians, I know you feel me on this one).
Then, unlike the wide-eyed, miniature versions of ourselves who also struggled to succeed in situations that were new to them, we let this fear paralyze us into not taking action – we give up entirely.
We don’t take that next wobbly step. We let ourselves stay on the ground after a fall. We do everything we can to keep ourselves from actually doing something, even if it’s not perfect.
Sound familiar? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by a situation that it feels safer to just stay in your state of unhappiness instead of at least trying to dig yourself out of that hole you’ve fallen into?
Or maybe you’ve fallen into the following mind-trap that we’ve all gotten stuck in, but is still one of my pet peeves: The “I don’t want to get my hopes up that (x situation) will get better because I don’t want to get disappointed again” mindset.
Let’s stop right there.
First, I wanna start by saying that I get it. I get that life is hard and scary sometimes – that sometimes it seems like there are more bad days than good and that our life is more like the title sequence of Friends “when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year”.
It is so easy for anyone, myself included, to get sucked into the trap of suckiness and negativity to the point where we actually stay there and get comfortable. That’s right, like sinking in the corner of your best friend’s L-shaped couch with your favorite bag of chips and your Bitchin’ sauce from Costco (highly recommend, btw), we start to feel so comfortable and safe in this lounge of low hopes that we don’t bother trying to get out!
But this mindset of not throwing yourself out there – not going on that date with the cute guy you met at the mac n cheese festival or not applying for new jobs even though yours totally sucks – all because you’ve been heartbroken or disappointed in the past not only drives me absolutely crazy, but it also makes zero sense!
I’ve never been on a date with someone I met at the Mac N Cheese festival by the way, I just think it’s a really cool festival that just so happens to be going on right now (hint, hint to a certain someone that is hopefully reading this). 😊
But really – depriving yourself of any good experiences or even the possibility of them happening at all does just that; it doesn’t guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to you ever again and nothing will.
As we know all too well from watching the news and scrolling through social media every day, we know that bad things happen all the time: it’s unavoidable. Limiting yourself from growth opportunities or just fun experiences in general will only guarantee that nothing great will ever happen to you!
Think about the first time you tried something new – whether this was riding a bike, standing up on a wakeboard for the first time, or trying a new musical instrument. Would you have learned how to ride your bike, actually surf on a wakeboard, land your first flip, or finally complete the song you were trying to play if you had given up every time you thought you might fail?
If you had given up on any of those things, would you have ever had those first feelings of excitement after accomplishing something that was hard?
As I mentioned before, I think everyone has fallen into this harmful mindset. I personally struggled with this recently when I was starting this new blogging adventure! As a lover of research who is often driven by the fear if the unknown, I worried about not knowing whether people would care about what I have to say, not knowing if this could possibly be successful and not knowing what the heck I’m doing. I had already thought about giving up so many times before I even launched my blog in the first place!
I read all the statistics that pointed out the likelihood of failure, the percentage of people that just give up on their blog after just starting, and the slim chances of actually making any profit while talking about things I love. The answers to these unknowns are still not apparent, and the conclusions these statistics draw are absolutely right – there is a chance that my blog could be a total flop with no viewers and no chance at being built into a real side hustle!
BUT, there is also a chance that maybe if I stay consistent, start small, and work smart when things are less than successful, I could be like thousands of other bloggers I’ve read about that did achieve success – regardless of however many naysayers they had to defy in the process!
No matter how successful any person or business becomes, they had to start small. If I had to guess which statistics they listened to when starting out at square one, they were probably the ones that listed reasons why they could be successful vs. why they might fail.
“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.“– Henry Ford
While I was struggling with overthinking, I learned about strategies to help me overcome these often debilitating thoughts while listening to Mel Robbins’ audiobook, Take Control of Your Life: How to Silence Fear and Win the Mental Game where she discusses our tendencies of thinking too big and overthinking to maintain an illusion of control.
Even after listening to just two chapters of this audiobook where she coaches two different people who are working through various issues with themselves, I found her book to be revolutionary in guiding me through ways to improve my thought process and help me in finally taking real action in solving my problems!
I truly think the advice she gives can be helpful for everyone. If you also like to learn about practical strategies for improving your life in any way, big or small, Take Control of Your Life is available here on Amazon/Audible.
My advice to you? Let yourself get excited. Get your hopes up. Put yourself out there. Because if you hope for nothing, never get excited, and never risk anything for the sake of your own happiness, what is there left to lose?