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As you prepare to take your first steps, could there possibly be something holding you back?
Maybe you have heard the phrase, "false evidence appearing real." It is a common acronym made from the one word that can and will stand in your path to success. We all suffer from fear in one form or another. Sometimes, overcoming fear is as simple as programming the body to perform the motions that the mind is resisting. Other times, the fear can be so crippling that it takes a tremendous breakthrough - even revisiting old events or memories that have been buried for years - in order to overcome its grasp. Unfortunately, many people never overcome their fears, and remain a victim of them all of their lives. Are you a victim, or a victor?
When I began working with others to help them achieve physique transformations in the year 2000, I discovered an amazing thing. Some people literally sabotaged their own progress out of fear. What was more incredible to me is exactly what their fear was: a fear of their own success! Even when the science works - when the changes in nutrition and training help a person begin to lose fat - if they are not prepared to change on the inside, they can become crippled by the change. These people would watch the pounds melt away, and suddenly the fear would paralyze them. They had spent so long hiding behind the extra weight and using their obesity as a shield to the world, that when that wall began to crumble they had nowhere to run.
I vividly recall a night when I pressed my body against my wife's and she began to softly cry. When I asked her what was wrong, she replied that I felt like a different person. She wasn't used to feeling my bones or contours, only the softness of my fat. Suddenly, her world was changing and she had not completely adjusted to it. I realized that I, too, had not kept pace with the physical changes. I did not know how to take compliments, and would often simply stammer or make small talk when someone would comment on my progress. I was not so much afraid of my success as I was afraid of the change in my life and not knowing how to live with it.
Even though I successfully overcame those fears early on, another type of fear limited my ability to grow my own career: a fear of my ability to become a successful entrepreneur. Despite having run a thriving part-time training business, and being able from the start to charge nearly double the average, local rate due to the quality of service that I provided, I did not think I had what it took to do well. After writing countless articles and receiving feedback from numerous readers, I still believed I was not ready to submit my articles to publications or attempt to write a book. Fear was sucking the life out of me!
It was only recently that I began to look at fear a new way.
An interesting thought occurred to me: simply changing my perception could empower me to overcome my fears and break through to new levels. The concept is quite simple. I realized that fear and faith are mutually exclusive. They occupy the same space in our lives. And we cannot have both in the same space at the same time - it is either one or the other.
Fear is an emotion related to failure. It is the belief that something is not worth trying because of the negative outcomes that are possible. Fear is a learned emotion. It takes the "space" ordinarily occupied by faith, and perverts it into something that holds us back. If you are not convinced, just take a look at a child learning to walk. Often, as they take those first tentative steps, they may do something that we, in all our wisdom, would consider failure. They fall. Or they bump into something. Or they are forced to grab hold of something to steady themselves. All of these actions are not pleasant, and they are not the intended result. For the child, however, what we would call "failure" is an integral component of their success.
The child does not give up. It does not occur to them that if they are going to fall, they should simply not try to walk. They might bump their head, but after the tears are dried and the bump has gone away, they will stand on their two wobbly legs once again and attempt the feat. In fact, children are the incredible pioneers of our world. They consistently drive confidently into the unknown and face failure after failure without becoming daunted. When they attempt their first words, the sounds will tumble out over and over until they are voiced correctly. When they begin to wave with their hands, they persistently move their arms and fingers until they follow the appropriate, nearly universal pattern for saying "Hello" or "Goodbye" through body language.
The children have faith in their ability to succeed through failure. Faith is not learned. We are born with it. Our survival depends upon it. If we did not entrust our lives to our parents, guardians, family, peers, and others who influence and "raise" us from birth, we would be lost. In all our learning, however, we seem to pick up one lesson that could have an incredible impact on the rest of our lives, depending upon how we learn it. That lesson is fear. Fear is a learned response. Fear is the absence of faith. With faith, you can try over and over again because you know your success is guaranteed. With fear, you decide without trying that your failure is predetermined, and you no longer give yourself the opportunity to succeed.
Do you have faith? Or fear? Or a mixture of both? It is time to make a conscious decision about what you are willing to do to turn your fear into faith. This is an incredible balance that can have a tremendous influence on your ability to transform. Think about it - your capacity is limitless to hold both fear and faith. If you have a lot of faith and a little fear, then you are only a short distance from overcoming those fears and breaking through to great things in your life. On the other hand, if the depth of your fear is enormous - take hope! Because fear and faith occupy the same space, but you can focus on only one at a time. Therefore, your depth of fear implies incredible potential for deep, enduring faith. You need only need to take action to overcome those fears and replace them with faith.
So how do you overcome your fears? By reinforcing your faith! As faith grows, fear dwindles. When you accomplish something on your own, you gain faith in that accomplishment. Even when you fail a second or third time, you continue to try because you know "I have done this before, and I can do it again." For things you have not accomplished, you learn faith from those around you. When a close friend has successfully achieved some amazing success in their lives, you say, "Wow. If they can do it, certainly I can do it." Sometimes, you simply draw on the depths of your own soul, and decide that you are either living or dying. You want to live, so in order to live, you must have faith. You simply create the faith and move past the fear.
While some people have made amazing changes in a simple instant by changing their mindset, I have found that certain breakthroughs in my own life took much more time. For example, I still have a small amount of fear when I stand to speak in front of a large group of people. In the past, this fear was nearly debilitating - I could barely talk for all of my stuttering and shaking. I forced myself to get in front of people to share my story, however, because my heart told me it could help others. In this case, I believed the need to help others was more important than the fear that was holding me back, so I pushed through. And I talked. And I talked again. And again. Each time I stood in front of a group of people, I realized that I could do this. Every time I sat back down and was still living and breathing (and no one had thrown tomatoes at me or pointed and laughed) I realized there really was nothing to fear. Eventually, I began to replace my fear with faith, until now I have only a little fear and a lot of faith in my ability to stand before a crowd and share my story.
To successfully transform, you will need a lot of faith. You may be afraid of many things - of how your life may change, of how hard the effort may be, or even of your own success. The key to overcoming this fear, however, is to keep doing. As you succeed, little by little, you will grow in faith. As you practice over and over, and commit to each new day, you will not only grow in faith, but you will increase your capacity for faith. When you increase your faith, you will stifle your fear, and it will dwindle until it eventually disappears with a whimper instead of a bang.
Jeremy Likness is an International Health Coach and motivational speaker. After losing 65 pounds of fat, he discovered his true vision to coach thousands around the world to better health. A Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition, Jeremy is the author of the internationally-selling e-Book, Lose Fat, Not Faith and the companion 5-CD set. Jeremy has been published in major online publications including Tom Venuto's Fitness Renaissance and Bodybuilding.com. Jeremy's approach is unique because he focuses on fitness from the inside out. Visit Jeremy online at Natural Physiques.
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