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How To Know What Fears You Should Listen To And What Fears To Push Through

woman lays in bed peeking her eyes out from under the covers

By Nicole Murphy

It is important to listen to thoughts in your mind that keep you out of danger and to ignore the thoughts that are sabotaging your potential. But how do you know the difference between legitimate fears and anxieties, and fears and anxieties that are trying to get you to quit too soon?

Our mind is a powerful thing. It can value certainty above all else. If you are living a certain way, your parents live that way, your grandparents live that way, your friends live that way, you all have similar beliefs of “how things are” and something comes along to threaten this, your mind can put up a fight. Don’t be fooled, the mind will also fight against good opportunities too if it is used to living in comfort. It likes the familiar bad stuff more than the unknown–regardless of if that unknown may be positive.

This may sound grim, but it is not. Once you understand that your mind will fight back anytime you are making a big decision that may cause growth and discomfort, you can navigate it with compassion and understand you are not alone. Your feelings are not always right and you can master your mind, not be a victim to it.

So how do you do this when the anxiety is weighing heavily on you and you can not see the forest through the trees? This is where you really have to get out of your head and do some writing or talking to others.

Here are two checklists to look at when making a decision to do or not do something you’re feeling fear around:

Good Fears checklist:
□ I will learn something new.
□ It is good for my physical health.
□ Doing it will potentially bring me closer to my bigger goals.
□ It is healthy.
□ Even if I fail I will still learn a lot.
□ This pushes me outside my comfort zone.
□ It has me questioning things I once thought and reconsidering what I think is possible.

Bad Fears checklist:
□ It will be damaging to my physical body.
□ I am doing it to fit in or be a part of a group.
□ I am doing it because I care what others may think of me if I don’t.
□ It brings me further away from my dreams and goals.
□ There isn’t really a chance of me failing.
□ It distracts me from feeling uncomfortable.
□ There is no growth doing it.

If you clearly see and understand that the thing you are interested in checks off all the good fear boxes and you still have massive anxiety around it, or are avoiding it, this may mean you have some perfectionism and fear of failure thoughts in your mind.

Keep in mind, the people who are the most successful in life aren’t the most talented or smart. They are the people that keep trying, even after failure.

They are the people who can see the areas they need to improve in their life and know how they can grow.

They are people who have major fear and anxiety, but they constantly work on bettering their mental health.

The happiest and most successful people have learned to find joy in their flaws and mistakes, not to beat themselves up about them.

If you are stressed right now because you do not feel you have these qualities yet, understand awareness is the first step, and ANYONE can learn how to be like this with practice.

If you feel heavy with anxiety try these journaling questions, and just let your pen flow. Do not judge your answers.

What is the thing I am scared to do?

What happens if I fail at it?

Whose opinion do I care about if I fail at it?

Does their opinion of me matter? Why or why not?

What happens if I succeed at it?

What do I lose by not doing it?

What could I learn from this experience?

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