Have you ever started to let yourself dream up something you wanted, only to hear that inner voice tell you all the reasons why you can’t get what you want? You say to yourself, “I’d love to start a new business because I just can’t afford to take any time off, and I’m sick of my job.” Then, that little voice says, “Yeah, but I’m not good at that stuff. I wouldn’t know where to start. I’d probably just lose a lot of time and money trying.”

Wow . . . who needs enemies when you have stuff like that rattling around in your head? I call the voice our “Inner Loser.” Sure, everyone likes to talk about our intuition and our Inner Child, but in my experience the doubts we have that hold us back the most are from a source that sounds suspiciously like our intuition—but it’s not.

It’s our fear talking—our fear of whatever bad thing we think might happen if we take action on our dreams. It feels easier to make excuses about why we can’t make our lives into exactly what we want than to risk really trying with all our heart and face the possible disappointment of failure.

The problem is that our Inner Loser can make us imagine a thousand ways that we might fail. On the very things we most desire we make the most excuses not to try. Sounds like a formula for a pretty miserable life, huh? Well, don’t think that this only applies to “miserable” people. Just about every coaching client I’ve worked with has expressed these Inner Loser thoughts.

These doubts pop up whenever we face an opportunity to grow beyond our current level of achievement. When you are faced with leaving your comfort zone, your Inner Loser will come out and undercut your confidence. You may find your Inner Loser chiming in and reminding you of every blunder you’ve ever had—just when you need your confidence the most.

To defeat this Inner Loser and break through to the next level, it helps to understand the motivations of your opponent. You don’t have to take Psychology 101 to understand that part of you is afraid of failing because of painful memories of past failures. Your Inner Loser is simply trying to keep you from making decisions where the outcome is unknown or beyond your current level of success. If you give in and seek comfort and approval of your Inner Loser, you will inevitably be stuck in a rut and settle for far less than you are capable of in exchange for the false notion that you will avoid pain.

What you have to face is that the cost of never reaching for your dreams or for new opportunities creates a lifetime of loss and pain that is far greater than momentary disappointments from unsuccessful attempts along the way. Once you understand that at a gut level, you can take steps to risk looking foolish or failing in exchange for knowing that you are on the path to your highest potential.

* Step 1: Notice that you are talking to yourself or others about fear of failure. Just catch yourself, and become aware that your Inner Loser is running your thoughts.

* Step 2: Thank your Inner Loser for trying to protect you from pain. You may notice in times of conflict that fighting makes the situation worse, whereas finding common ground can neutralize tense situations. If you deny your fear or talk badly about yourself, you will simply reinforce your fear of taking action. If you can understand your Inner Loser’s motivations, you can neutralize the unhelpful dialogue in your head.

* Step 3: Look at what you are afraid of, and ask yourself what the worst thing is that could happen if you took whatever risk you are facing. Compare that with what you stand to gain, and decide if it is worth the risk. Name what you are afraid of out loud, and you’ll take your fear from your imagination to the concrete and logical level. That way, if you accept the worst, it is possible that you will be able to handle it. Then, you can proceed to focus on creating a much more positive outcome.

* Step 4: Remind yourself that everything that you don’t have and truly want is on the other side of some kind of fear. Any goal worth having is beyond your comfort zone, or you’d already have it. If you do exactly what you fear in the pursuit of a dream or an important goal, you will often find that that is the surest path to success. Successful and brave people achieve so much not because they don’t fear, but because they take action anyway and override the fear. Always doing what is comfortable will simply get you what you already have.

* Step 5: Take action, and watch what happens. If you decide to do nothing, that is a decision, too. What is the result? Are you happier? If you do take the risk, what is the result? You will probably find that whatever happens, even failure, is never as bad as the stuff your Inner Loser whipped up for you to fear (and usually, everything turns out far better than the worst case scenario).

Believe it or not, it feels much better to have tried and failed than to know you never tried. Perhaps you can train your Inner Loser to understand that the real pain comes from regretting opportunities not taken and wondering what could have been. Understand that nothing happens without failure at some point in the journey to success, and failure is simply information about how not to do something.

Next time you have something you’d like to create in your life, and your Inner Loser pops up with some negative comments, just say, “Thanks, I appreciate your concern,” and then, focus on what you want, and go for it. More often than not, your biggest obstacle is your Inner Loser, not the challenge before you.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways.html

Author's Bio: 

Craig Perrine has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs market their businesses online. He’s an author and featured speaker at leading Internet marketing seminars, and he’s featured in the best-seller Online Marketing Superstars. Craig is recognized as a leading expert on how to build profitable, long-term relationships with a targeted subscriber list. You can see some of his simple yet highly effective methods in a free e-course at http://www.maverickmarketer.com.