Don’t Fear Your Doubts and Insecurities — Let Them Drive Your Life

“Criticism didn’t really stop us and it shouldn’t ever stop anyone…” — Paul McCartney

The greatest strides and triumphs of our lives will come when we cast fears and insecurities to the side — by accepting them for what they are — and continue powering forward to what we want most. As John Mayer once sang, “fear is a friend who’s misunderstood.”

But fear can also be an enemy. So, as we experience the doubts and insecurities of life, we must learn how to harness the energy to both accept and reject fear.

I watched one of my artistic heroes in delight last night on 60 Minutes as he discussed memories, fears, proudest moments and shockingly— insecurities. Few people would think of the greatest icon in the history of popular — and rock n’ roll music — as a man who is insecure. And yet Paul McCartney, at age 76, was here to tell us that he’s human, too.

McCartney was asked what the biggest misconception about him is. Like most of us, we’ll never really know of what others think of us. So, on its head, it was a curious question. But McCartney digested it, thought a bit and said,

“I don’t know what people think about me. I can try and guess. I’ll tell you what,

‘You must have no insecurities.’ Just like anyone else, you have insecurities. ’Cause everyone has them. And no matter how high and great and wonderful you get, there’s still something will make you worry.”

No matter how high and great and wonderful you get, there will always be worry.

Even when you’re the greatest the world has ever seen, you still doubt. You’re still insecure about whether your work, your thoughts or things that you do will resonate and matter.

When you’re dedicated to giving the world your absolute best, you will always care. You’ll always worry.

And that’s OK. To fear is human. To worry is, too. Insecure?

Aren’t we all?

This is not a bad thing. The more we disown our human nature, the more we struggle. The more we pretend that we can make it through life without worrying about the good and the bad, the less vulnerable we are. The less we are ourselves. And we should always try to live our best, boldest life — which is being ourselves and striving to get better every day.

“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” — Steven Pressfield

Life isn’t about living someone else’s life — and furthermore, it’s not about pretending to be someone that doesn’t even exist. If you find yourself succumbing to fears and worries on your journey, take solace in the fact that the world’s most talented and successful people find themselves in moments of doubt, just like you and me.

In fact, the more experienced you become in insecurity and fear, the better able you are at mastering it and launching the greatest growth moments of your life.

How do I know? I’ll tell you.

Launching a Dream

My whole life, I wanted to write a book. But I didn’t just want to write a book to say that I was an author. It was never about that. Titles mean nothing. Impact is really what matters. I wanted to write a book that changed people’s lives, offered a glimpse into what it means to do what matters most, and to provide clear definition to why we do, what we do.

The more I dedicated time to self-examination, to thinking of all of my biggest failures and mistakes, as well as my biggest victories and moments of progress, I found very deep meaning in what I needed to do. I motivated and inspired myself to make meaning of my life and to continue doing what I love most: writing in an effort to help others.

I was living my calling. And yet the closer I got to living my dream and publishing my book, The Value of You, the more fear set in. It was crazy.

How could it be that the more I immersed myself in what meant everything to me, in certain respects, the more difficult it became?

I didn’t have an answer, at the time. But I knew the intensity of the moment was real.

Right before I was wrapping up the editing of the final chapters of my book, I was sitting at my dining room table staring at the screen. For all intents and purposes, I was finished. But I knew there was still just a little bit left. I could feel the doubt starting to set in:

You can’t finish this. Just leave it be. No one’s going to care anyway. You’re not going to be a published author. No one’s going to care.

In a moment of epiphany that I can only describe as sublime, I snapped out of the moment, re-applied myself and powered through the rest of the editing. I was finished. The book wasn’t yet published. But I had just completed living my dream. It was one of the most remarkable feelings I’ve ever experienced, in part because I overcame the feelings of insecurity and doubt and smashed them in their face.

You too will face fear when you commit to a consistent daily approach of doing great work — doing what you love. You must be prepared.

The Battle of Life

In his must-read book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about the biggest enemy (and sometimes catalyst) all of us will face in life: fear.

Fear is our lifelong companion. We can’t shake it. So, we might as well live with it. Pressfield asks a timeless question that all of us will need to answer time and time again,

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

Fear, Insecurities, Doubt. It really depends on which side of the coin you’re looking at.

When I was in the doldrums of insecurity while struggling with anxiety, fear and low self-esteem — which included the loss of a job, the loss of a family member and rejections from publishers — that’s when I really learned the most about myself. It was in those moments that I realized that fear is the biggest fight and battle of our lives. And it will never end.

If we succumb to fear, if we begin rationalizing the voice inside our head that tells us to give in to what we don’t really want, we lose big time. @Chris_Connors42 (Click to Tweet!)

We stop fighting and acquiesce, letting the wind take us whichever way it so pleases. We must keep up the fight, and while we won’t always control every outcome, our effort to influence and embrace ourselves for exactly who and what we are at all times, is the epitome of what it means to triumph and persevere.

Fear and insecurities are given life by the voice inside our heads. It’s rare that it comes from others. And frankly, if you’re finding yourself speaking with people who are making you more fearful and anxious, then cut them off. Eliminate those conversations from your life.

Lean In and Do What You Really Want

Insecurities are truly pushing us in the direction of what we really want. It sure doesn’t seem that way but take a step back and realize the way that you feel when you try to launch your dream and you find your mind leading you astray into doubt. It happens in the blink of an eye. You’ll start to think you don’t really want this thing that drives the passion inside of you each day.

Please. Do what you want. Go after what you want with maximum effort and energy. If you’re reading this and this resonates with you in your personal struggle, then know that this is your time to do that.

Don’t get caught up worrying about time or the “*I’m too old” or “I’m starting too late” or “What if it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be” or “What if I’m not as good as I think I am?”

Those excuses and rationalizations are all fear-based. They’re bullshit.

You may want to create your own website, write a book, perhaps you want to launch a new app that helps increase literacy among children, or maybe you just want to rock on the guitar and write a few songs.

Paul McCartney will tell you that all of us struggle with insecurity. It’s how we both proactively embrace fear, as well as how we react to moments of self-doubt that define our lives. When you view life through this lens, you begin to make the most of your human experience. I think you’ll look back and realize that you’ve learned a tremendous amount about yourself.

Fear can break you, if you let it. But fear and insecurity can drive your life to do things that can literally change the world — and the lives of others for the better. Know your insecurities. Know your fears. Things that will help positively shape the rest of your life.

Christopher D. Connors is a leadership coach, global speaker and author of the bestselling book, The Value of You. Visit him at http://chrisdconnors.com and sign-up to get powerful insights on how to build the life you’ve always wanted.

Image courtesy of Breakreate.

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Will You Be Courageous This Year?

I don’t know if you feel it, but I’ve been very aware of how things are shifting around us. People are starting to wake up, step up, and speak up. We are starting to come together and think in a different way. 2019 is going to be a pivotal year and the way I see it is that we are at a crossroads. There is one road that you can head down that is decorated with fear and constraint if you choose to fill your mind with thoughts about how bad our world is. And there is another road that is decorated with opportunity for discovery if you choose to embrace all the changes that are going on around and inside of you.

Lately I’ve been on a “courage kick.” I’m called to share about courage, learn about it and embrace it in my own life so that I can teach it from a place of experience rather than as a concept. I’ve been reminding myself and others that courage is not the absence of fear; it is acknowledging that fear is present, feeling it and moving forward anyway.

So I ask you, are you being courageous or are you letting fear stop you? If you are waiting to not be afraid of something before you take action, you’re at a dead end.

Fear does not necessarily go away until we go through it. And until we face our greatest fears, they will always be lurking there like monsters in our closets, keeping us living a life that is safe and quite frankly, complacent. @ChristinHassler (Click to Tweet!)

Do you want to be complacent or do you want to be courageous? Do you want to boldly create your life or be a victim of circumstances?

If you are willing and ready (and we all are ABLE) to journey down the road less traveled, you will discover parts of yourself that will surprise you.

My invitation for you is to consider what you want to leave behind as you travel down this road of courage and what you want to create as you go.

What will 2019 be about for you? What do you want to create or step into? And I don’t just mean goal line / material things like jobs, relationships, and so on. What do you want to experience more of in your life? Joy, peace, fun, laughter, fulfillment, faith? There are so many great, juicy and wonderful options! All you have to do is choose to courageously step forward and believe you can do it – and one step at a time is good enough. Personal discovery is not a race; it’s a journey that lasts a lifetime. Are you ready to begin? Don’t wait for change to come to you or for someone or something else to change it for you, change your life now.

Love

Christine

P.S. I have a new podcast where I coach people LIVE on the air. Head over to Over it and On With It and listen in for inspiration and action steps.

Christine Hassler has broken down the complex and overwhelming experience of recovering from disappointment into a step-by-step treatment plan in her new book Expectation Hangover. This book reveals the formula for how to process disappointment on the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual levels to immediately ease suffering. Instead of wallowing in regret, self-recrimination, or anger, we can see these experiences as catalysts for profound transformation and doorways that open to possibility. You can find more info on her website, and follow her on Twitter and FB.

Image courtesy of Taylor Ann Wright.

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Give up on Your New Year’s Resolution Yet? You’ve Entered the Groan Zone.

It’s pretty common really. We get into the new year, we make promises to ourselves and we tell those around us that we believe should know and then… two weeks later we’re back in real life and struggling to find a reason to keep the resolution alive. It got hard. You know, the whole changing behavior part.

I compare the start of a new year to summer camp. The first few weeks are like the Monday and Tuesday of summer camp — everyone’s excited, it’s all new and you want to take it all in — then Wednesday happens. You haven’t slept because the other kids didn’t stop talking for two straight nights, it’s been a flurry of activity and you’re exhausted. You miss what you know — the familiar — you miss home. But then, eventually, you slog through Wednesday and Thursday happens. You get excited about the fact that the week is almost over. And Friday — well, that’s nostalgia day. The day you look back on the week and think, “that was amazing, I’m going to miss all of you, and I can’t wait to come back!” (well, for some anyway).

Starting a new year is a lot like the first two days of summer camp. It’s exciting, it’s entering into something new and staking claim in what you hope to be an amazing year.

Your best yet.

It’s sustainable for a while, then we get tired. Reality sets in. That weight we wanted to lose? Not gone yet, and this new diet isn’t as fun as pizza Thursdays. That goal I was going to meet? I’m not as far as I wanted to be, and I liked not working this hard. No one will notice when I give up… everyone else did… right?

It’s now officially Wednesday of summer camp.

Where we begin.

So, what does it take to get through that day? Through the desire to quit, now that all the fun feelings of a New Year have subsided, and we are back to our reality?

We can begin to answer those questions by understanding what’s happening to our brains and the way we make decisions and think.

When a new year is on the horizon, our brains start to think forward, we look to the future and with the change in year, begin to think of ideas of what our life could be. What do I want to accomplish this year? Who do I want to be?

We invite ourselves to think bigger, to embrace possibility, and to tell ourselves that this time, it will all be different.

This is calledDivergent Thinking — generating creative ideas to challenges we face.

Divergent, in the world of psychology, is defined as: using a variety of premises as bases for inference and avoiding common limiting assumptions in making deductions.

That last part really lands. Avoiding common limiting assumptions in making deductions. It’s about seeing the possibilities despite what we might consider limitations.

With divergent thinking we’ve claimed a space for possibility, and we think we can do it this year. No, like we really believe this time. That belief, to a differing degree, ignores or dismisses the limitations that exist. It ignores the life-long habits, the difficulty of behavioral change, the kids that wake you up early so you can’t find time to get that workout in.

Ignoring or dismissing the limitations isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite great. It means you’re thinking bigger and looking farther than you normally would. The problem arrives when those limitations show up.

The Groan Zone.

The space between our initial ideas and goals — seeing the possibility — and the completion of those goals is the “groan zone.” It’s the space where the limitations begin to block progress, and we have to not only push through them but discern new choices and actions that will allow for us to move forward and achieve what we set out to achieve.

From divergence to the groan zone, we went from possibility and ideas to work and follow-through. From fun and futuristic thinking to daily work, to the grind, to the effort. Getting through the daily grind, sticking with the work, being accountable, all feel daunting. Your 15th salad in 10 days gets old. Getting up at 5:30am to workout got real. Your bed is warm, and so much nicer than that smelly gym.

Groaning is the sound you make when you get up at 5:30 am to workout in week two. Groaning is the sound you make when you are held accountable, when you stick with the work even when you don’t want to.

You groan because it’s hard.

The groan zone is where we don’t discern why, we feel the how.

If I want to lose weight, or be “nicer to my in-laws,” or close 10 more deals this year, the feeling of “how” creeps in. Our brain requires a step-by-step action plan that takes all the limitations into account. A plan that allows my divergent thinking to achieve convergence — where it all comes together.

Moving Through.

In the groan zone, you’re in the thick of it. You want to give up and walk away. Here’s some things you can do to hang on:

  1. Reconnect to the “why” — What led you to this goal in the first place? What part of you wanted this? What part of you would be incomplete if it didn’t happen?
  2. Reignite the possibility — What would be possible if you stuck with it?
  3. Recognize the Groan Zone is temporary — It’s referred to as a “zone” because it’s only part of the story. It’s temporary. It can be beaten. On the other side of the groan zone is what you wanted… and you can have it if you stick with it.
  4. Address the how — If the groan zone requires us to deal with limitations, then we need to address them head on and make an action plan for how to move forward (notice how this is last in line… without connecting to the “why,” the “how” won’t carry weight.).

And lastly, know this:

You can do it, and you’ll be better for it.

The difference between you and most people is that you don’t give up in the groan zone. It’s just a Wednesday of summer camp. You understand that if you get through today, tomorrow will be better.

And soon enough, it’s Friday of summer camp. And we’ll look back on this year with nostalgia. The year we stuck with it.

Dave Newell seeks to bring out brilliance in all people he encounters and has been building and developing leadership in individuals and groups for more than 15 years. He has delivered high impact leadership development and organizational strategy in all sectors, including individual coaching, business, education, non-profit, and government. Dave is trained in the Art of Participatory Leadership methodologies, which is an approach to leadership that scales up from the personal to the systemic using personal practice, dialogue, facilitation, and the co-creation of innovation to address complex challenges. He specializes in engaging individuals and multiple stakeholders in systems and culture change. Dave has delivered community engagement and change work across the US and internationally. You can find more information on his website.

Image courtesy of The Journal Garden | Vera Bitterer.

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