Let’s take a close look at the concept of fear.

Not fun, you say? Fear isn’t your problem, you say? Are you sure? Or is that denial talking?

Like many people, I had unconsciously run much of my life based on my fears. I was always finding excuses for my self-defeating behavior, unfortunate circumstances or bad things that happened to me. I procrastinated and blamed my failures on poor planning, someone else’s timing and someone else’s issues. No matter what happened to me, I decided it wasn’t my fault.

Or was it?

At first glance, I really didn’t want to take the responsibility for my own circumstances, setbacks and failures. It was much easier to blame someone or something else, and looking inward didn’t feel very good at first. Little by little, I got used to the idea that maybe I made choices based not on solid information, but instead based on fear. Little by little, I got used to the idea that maybe if I was making choices based on fear, I actually had more control of myself than I thought – but negative control.

“If I have control of myself and my choices,” I thought, “maybe it really is my fault that things didn’t go my way, that I had failures along with my successes. Maybe I allowed fear to creep into my conscious thought.” Even though it was uncomfortable, I stuck with that idea for a while. Eventually, I realized that while my fears had held me back in the past, I could use that same energy to propel me forward. And so can you.

The first thing I did was to learn to understand how fear felt in my body. You know, it’s that paralyzing feeling, like when you’re about to do something for the first time, and you’re procrastinating, afraid to speak in public for fear of saying something silly, afraid of rejection, success, failure, humiliation and a myriad of other things. We all have fears – everybody. For me, fear felt like a lump in my stomach, weight on my shoulders and general heaviness.

So why was I so afraid? It was a good question, one I asked myself often. Though I wasn’t exactly sure why, I was pretty sure it had something to do with my beliefs, subconscious programming, and that most of it was pretty much untrue. To be honest, most of the fear that I had, I made up in my own head. As a result, other fears began to be realized – in part because I focused so hard on what I was afraid of.

I had begun to pave the way for prosperity in my future, all the while feeling a little bit nervous, like something unexpected or bad would happen soon. The fear of success was stalking me, and one day it appeared in full force for me to deal with in a way I would never forget.

The ringing of the phone that day startled me. I was deep in thought and I picked up the phone quickly. “Hello?” I said hurriedly. The voice on the other end of the line was my father. He sounded sad, solemn and panicked. “I need money,” he stated simply. Next, he explained all the reasons that he needed the money, his current situation, failed business and all of the reasons that it wasn’t his fault. If only he could have the money, everything would be better in his life. It put me in an awful position. My greatest fear had been realized – that success would change me in the eyes of other people and that I would be looked upon as a money tree to my family. My parents had divorced some years earlier, and I was afraid my dad would start asking me for money. What would I do?

For the next few minutes, I listened to the story, the excuses and the blame coming from my father’s words. He wanted a lot of money. Fear gripped me as I realized that I would need to be the parent to my own parent, and I knew that if I gave in one time I would be expected to give in each time he called. He had not learned to manage his money and I knew that whatever I might consider giving him at that moment would be gone in an instant and more would be required next time. Throughout my growing up years, I had watched him request money from family members and friends, and I saw what it had done to destroy once beautiful relationships when promises were not kept. His financial mismanagement was a key factor in the stresses that ultimately led to his divorce from my mother when I was 13. But this was my father, and my love for him and our relationship went way beyond this panicky moment.

I gently told him that while I loved him, I was unable to give him what he requested at that time. He was sad, but said he understood. Shaking, I hung up the phone and realized that I had once again overcome a great fear. I had been thinking about this fear of success and all of the horrible ways it could come into my life. In reality, what I made up in my mind was not the truth – I discovered that the horrible fear I had about the circumstances was actually something I had made up! While the situation with my father was unpleasant, it was certainly not nearly as bad as I had imagined. I learned a very valuable lesson – once I discovered my exact fear (in this case, fear of success), and asked myself whether it was the truth or whether I was making it up, somehow the fear loosened its grip.

I still use this method today when I feel fear. Writing this book, putting it out there for all the world to see, was once a fearful obstacle for me. I pictured people laughing, ridiculing, and attacking my ideas. I pictured terrible humiliation, embarrassment and rejection. Basically, I experienced the whole range of fears. Then I got the first draft reviews back and the feedback was positive, so I started to feel a bit more comfortable. When I asked myself “is this true or am I making it all up?” I realized that through the power of my own imagination, I made it up.

So if you are reading this today, I hope you feel the power of the words on the pages and know that everyone – I mean everyone – goes through times in their life where they are struck by fear. Taking action in small steps (or sometimes in large steps), letting go of the drama of the fear and realizing the power of your own mind is the true formula to break through fear and use it for success.

Sometimes, fear can paralyze your waking moments. During those times, I make what I call a “Personal Promise.” On the top of a sticky note, I write “What is the ONE thing I will do today before I go to bed?” and then I write down one task. Some days, it’s a big task, and other days, eating lunch is grounds for celebration. I have found this one little thing to be amazingly helpful during those times when fear is trying to stop me from moving forward. One tiny step at a time is all it takes.

Successful people have more fear than most, because they are doing things that most people will never try. Consider these things as you pursue your version of success.

1. What fears are holding you back? Are they real or are you making them up? What beliefs are holding you back? Who gave you those beliefs?

2. If you are ready to release the fears and give up the beliefs that are not serving you, practice the exercise mentioned above. You will find that the shift can take place almost immediately if you give yourself permission to let go.

3. Begin the habit of creating your own Personal Promise notes before you begin each day.

And celebrate your successes!

Excerpted from “The Accidental Millionaire”

Author's Bio: 

Stephanie Frank
Founder and President of SuccessIQ University
Best Selling Author, The Accidental Millionaire

Book Stephanie to Speak or read what she has to say about achieving goals, leadership, peak performance, personal empowerment, persuasion and influence, productivity, creating systems, and time mastery on her blog web site: http://www.stephaniefrank.com

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