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Why we hold back

Why do we hold back from going forward with the job, relationship, lifestyle, or some other important goal we really want to achieve? It’s real simple: FEAR.

We fear the unknown, we tell ourselves. But can we actually fear what we do not know? That’s simple too: It is not possible to fear what is unknown; We fear what we think about the unknown.

So, fear it seems, is only a thought that swirls around in our heads about what we think might happen if we take a leap and really go for that thing that we want. Fear is not a real thing; It is something we create in our minds based on past hurts, embarrassments, and disappointments.

The feeling of fear though, is very real. We will do whatever it takes to avoid what we are afraid of, even at the real cost of achieving our own happiness. The job of the brain is to protect us at all costs. And so, it does.

What is really there?

If we listen more closely, we hear an assortment of inner dialog that sounds like: ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not smart enough’ or ‘They won’t like me’ or ‘I’m afraid to fail,’ and so on – I’m sure you can fill it in.

And so then we don’t even try. We push it off for a silly dream, or something that wasn’t meant for us, or something we could never really have anyways.

The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we never try, we certainly do not experience the pain of disappointment or failure. We also never succeed. We never even have the chance. And that is how fear helps us fulfill the expectation of ‘not being enough.’

It is such a sad fate for our hopes and dreams. How can we overcome this inner battle between what we want to do and what unknowingly keeps us back?

What fear is and where it comes from

We must first understand that our fears are beliefs that dwell at the subconscious level of our minds. We don’t even realize that some of our fears are playing out in the background! And the subconscious beliefs are what ultimately win over our conscious desires and declarations.

If you think of the mind as a river, the conscious mind is the waves and ripples we see at the top, while the subconscious mind is the hidden, more powerful current beneath the surface that will pull and hold you under should you rock and exit your boat. That’s how I picture it anyways.

Anytime you rock the boat, the subconscious mind becomes aware of a potential change. And the mind fears change. It would rather suck you up and hold you captive than go with the natural flow of change, stepping into the unknown.

You see, there are patterned responses we build in our minds that are like pathways.  We create deeper neural pathways that act like ‘grooves’ every time a behavior or response is reinforced.  This is why we repeat behaviors even though we want to change them.  Remember I told you earlier that the subconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious mind.  The ideal is that the conscious and subconscious minds would work together in unison!

There are ways to reprogram the subconscious mind

There are many ways to reprogram (yes, it is like a computer) our subconscious mind such as hypnosis, NLP, guided imagery, energy work, and repetition. Let me tell you about the last one, because this is something you can get started with right now!

When a nasty little thought arises in the mind that is contrary to what you are trying to achieve, the key is to catch it and change it before it catches an emotional hold on you. I’ll give an example.

Say I am trying to grow my business and am ready to launch something new, and a little voice in the background says ‘You don’t know how to do this. You’re gonna fail…’ The watch guard for my thoughts sounds the red alert and I immediately take notice.

Before that thought can start pulling me under, I question or challenge the thoughts/beliefs – ‘Is that really true? Is it really true that I don’t know what I am doing?  Is it really true that I am destined to fail?’ If I keep challenging the thoughts, I will find that they most often are baseless.  If I find an actually deficiency, then I have learned what I need to address.

If it is an otherwise baseless thought, I move to reframing it.  I might choose a reframe that sounds something like this: ‘I used to think that I don’t know how to do this, but I am moving towards trusting in my skillset and that I can learn anything I need to be successful.’

By doing this, you begin to shift the dial of the subconscious belief. And you repeat this as many times as it takes to change, or ‘re-groove,’ the subconscious thought pattern. Some days, I reframe the same thoughts a hundred times. It will eventually take hold.  Repetition is the key to creating a new groove in the subconscious mind.

Using Affirmations

Another thing you can do is to practice affirmations. Affirmations are statements that we write in the ‘I am’ tense: ‘I am a successful business owner.’ ‘I am an amazing partner to my spouse.’ ‘I am more than enough.’ ‘I am improving my skillset everyday.’

The key to using affirmations is to repeat them often. Some say 25 times a day, others say 50-100 or more times a day. I say, just as often as you can is the best. It helps if you write them out. There is even more power in the written word than the spoken voice. There is something with the brain-hand connection that inspires other parts of the brain to fire.

A great practice is to write them out first thing in the morning and before bed, as well as in spatterings throughout the day. And say them to yourself as often as you can remember to all day long!  Again, remember that repetition is the key.

When you combine both practices together, it goes a long, long way to creating the new subconscious patterns you want to have that support your conscious desires!

For more on affirmations: https://www.jackcanfield.com/blog/practice-daily-affirmations/

How to know which are your subconscious thoughts or beliefs?

If you are still unsure how to know which are your subconscious beliefs, just listen to your thoughts that come up. Listen closely, they can be sneaky. They come up and you don’t even recognize them guiding your actions or decisions until you begin to deliberately pay attention. We become very accustomed to the background noise of our minds.

We must become like vigilant watch guards of our minds.  Since we are completely 100% responsible for the quality of our minds, we can choose to change it at any time. You might be surprised by all the little dream killing goblins that come up for you, so be ready!

Photo by Sander Weeteling on Unsplash

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