How to Destroy Your Fears — for Good

20160311201925-potholes-road-crackedImage credit: Shutterstock

Just as happens with a lot of things in life, we all have choices to make regarding how we live: Are we going to choose to let our fears overtake us and wallow in our failures? Or, are we going to rise above these things and live a faith-filled life?

By “faith-filled life,” I mean always believing that the future is going to be bigger than the past and that there is absolutely no limit to our potential. The decision is ours; no one can make it for us. But it’s a decision that has to be made, because the more we experience adversity throughout our lives, the more our fears will creep in and rob us of our peace and happiness.

Interestingly enough, fear, failure and faith have a lot in common. When we fail at something, we let fear stop us from trying again. And when we operate out of fear, we set ourselves up for a negative and limited belief for a future that is still unwritten.

Faith focuses on the positive, while fear focuses only on the negative. When people experience a setback or failure, they immediately begin to believe that there is no choice but to accept the outcome of that negative experience. They lose sight of the fact that the first step in conquering adversity and uncovering the gift that lies within every failure is to constantly develop and strengthen the faith muscle which will help them destroy their fears and move forward.

As physician and Holocaust survivor Emannuel Teney put it, “As your faith is strengthened, you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.”

Destroying your fears 

We’ve all had numerous failures and setbacks throughout our journey. And, like most people, we may be afraid of trying something new — afraid we’ll fail again. But, if we are going to thrive despite the bad times, we absolutely must destroy our fears.

That is certainly no easy task, considering how much our fears have been ingrained. Where a lot of people go wrong is that they don’t do anything the moment fear begins to invade their thinking. They let it build up inside their minds; and, over time, fear is all they know.

When that happens, they are guided by their fears, instead of faith and hope. They never come to the realization that letting fear lead the way is a recipe for a life of mediocrity and “settling” for an average, lesser version of themselves, rather than the best version.

And don’t we all want to be the best version of ourselves?

As the Rev. Charles Stanley said, “Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.” 

I wholeheartedly believe that so many people struggle with overcoming major setbacks and failure in life because they haven’t destroyed their fears. They fail, become frightened, then listen to, and end up living, their fears. This paralyzes them from taking action and doing what’s necessary to get them where they want to go.

I want to share with you two exercises that have worked wonders for me, for destroying my own fears:

1. Take out a sheet of paper and grab a pen.

For this exercise, it’s important to find a quiet location to help you get deep into your thoughts and bring you clarity. The goal here is to start writing every single fear that has ever crossed your mind and still has power over you. This fear could be preventing you from taking action, from talking to a certain man or woman. This fear could be preventing you from following your passion in life.

Whatever it is, write it down. A few years ago, I did this exercise and wrote down almost 200 fears.

Now the fun part: From every day going forward, pick one thing on your fear list. Pick one thing that you’re afraid of and force yourself to just do it. It could be picking up the phone and calling someone you have been wanting to talk to, but kept putting off. It could be making that first introduction to someone you’re interested in.

It could be enrolling in a class you’ve thought about pursuing. Or even starting a business. This exercise, done properly, will help you drastically shatter your fears. It has provided me with so much courage over the years and reminded me that the majority of the fears holding me back were only in my mind — and were false.

2. Shift your mindset — from the negativity of failure to the positivity faith and hope. 

Most of our fears aren’t even real. We let made-up scenarios — worries — play out in our heads and then run with them. Over time, we really start to believe those scenarios, which more than likely, are self-diminishing instead of self-empowering.

We must engrave in our minds that the only way fear can hold us back is if we let it. The only power it has is the power we give it. Shift your mind from the negative clutches of fear to the positivity of the beautiful gifts we receive when faith and hope in a bigger future are present. Then, from that point on, always look to strengthen your faith, not your fears.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Defeat Resistance and Get Your Most Important Work Done

1411076170-10-steps-change-life-step-step-guideImage credit: Shutterstock

Have you ever been in the situation where you really wanted to get something important done but all of a sudden your internal dialogue took over and you ended up talking yourself out of actually doing it? If I had to guess, chances are you have. It’s more than likely that all of us at some point have been in a similar situation.

I come across people on a daily basis who go on and on explaining how badly they want to write a book, start a business or pursue a passion. And, as the conversation continues, the next thing that comes out is a list of reasons why that hasn’t happened yet.

Unfortunately, most will continue their lives without realizing their goal. It’s not that they lack talent or that something is wrong with us. What has happened is that like millions of other people, we’ve let one of the biggest dream killers, resistance, completely take over our lives and decision-making ability.
We all have big hopes and aspirations, but as time goes on and we grow older, we let that resistance creep in and prevent us from tapping into our full potential. And the thing is that the more important and special something is to us, the stronger and more powerful our resistance will be. One of the best books I have come across that details this process is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I highly recommend it because it explains that it’s not just creatives who deal with resistance; it’s anyone who desires to live a bold and highly successful life.
I have had my own battle with resistance over the years and have learned how to minimize its effectiveness each time I feel it gaining an edge on me. Here are three ways I’ve defeated resistance and gotten my most important work done.

1. Just get started!

Resistance is at its strongest when you’re getting ready to start something. When I first sat down to write my book, I stared a few minutes at the blank screen, knowing exactly how much I had to write, and immediately came face to face with resistance.

Multiple excuses began to pop up, and the last thing I wanted to actually do was to start writing. But the turning point came when I stopped thinking about the thousands of words I had to write that day and just made getting started my main focus.

Once I was able to just get started, everything was downhill from there. When you direct all of your focus to  taking the first step, you destroy resistance little by little. The last thing resistance wants you to do is to start on an important project or work that truly matters. Whether that project is writing a book, starting a business or pursuing a passion, just focus on taking that first step.

2. Compete with yourself.

One of the major benefits of being a former athlete is that I am always trying to compete with myself and have fun with everything that I do. Instead of looking at resistance as some dreadful and awful experience, I try to have some fun with it and make it a game. At the end of each work day, especially when I am in the process of working on a major project like writing a book, I will keep score of how many times I have beat resistance. Nothing feels better than to get to the end of the day and look at how many times I have successfully defeated resistance.

This ends up increasing my fulfillment, happiness, and overall satisfaction for that particular day. This simple and fun practice has drastically transformed the way that I work. I encourage you to find your own practice and what works best for you. What works best for me may not be the best solution for you, but that’s not the main point. The most important thing is that you give yourself permission to have fun with resistance instead of let it cripple you from performing your best on a daily basis.

3. Get extremely clear.

When you get extremely clear about what you’re  trying to achieve, who you are as a person and the overall mission and purpose for your life, the resistance you’re up against loses a great deal of its power.

Returning to my efforts to write a book: Once I got extremely clear about why I wanted to write in the first place and the type of impact that I wanted it to have on people, I got motivated to take action. A lot of times, resistance gets the best of us because we forget the importance of gaining clarity before we start something.

The next time you feel resistance overpowering you, then, stop what you are doing and spend some time getting connected with your major life purpose, your biggest goals and dreams for the year and anything else that motivates and excites you. A simple mindset shift like this can make a profound difference in not only your ability to beat resistance, but in the way you feel about life.

I strongly believe that every one of us has a unique talent and ability that can be used to make a tremendous difference in the world. Don’t let resistance get in the way of preventing you from leaving your mark on the world.

Just as author Steven Pressfield said, “Most of us have two lives: the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”

Don’t let resistance interfere with your becoming the best version of yourself.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

4 Actions to Help You Recover From a Crushed Dream

20160223012617-football-nfl-2Image credit: Shutterstock

My one and only NFL game may as well have been my own personal Super Bowl. I remember that evening in August 2010 at Qualcomm Stadium in California, playing the San Diego Chargers as though it was yesterday: the fresh smell of the wet dirt and the long grass. The taste of iron and salt in my mouth . . .

. . . And, off in the distance, the din of our fans screaming, cheering us on.

This was where I belonged: as an NFL player playing for the Chicago Bears, in a pre-season matchup against the Chargers out in beautiful San Diego, California. I was playing well. I had missed a sack opportunity on the quarterback, but I had also recorded three tackles, including one for loss. I was pumped, elated to be doing what I had always dreamed of doing: what four years of Indiana University football and endless workouts had prepared me to do.

But, something was terribly wrong. Late in the second quarter, with four minutes left before halftime, a big Chargers offensive lineman was thrown by one of my teammates smack into my left ankle. His 280-pound bulk came down hard across my leg, and my ankle became badly tangled up under this mountain of a man.

I attempted to stand — and realized that what had seemed like a routine play was not routine at all: A sharp pain stabbed through my entire leg. I felt sick to my stomach as the searing pain worsened progressively every second. The pain was so intense, I thought I might faint.

Still, I toughed it out, finishing the game with six tackles and a tackle for loss. But, that day, my performance was not uppermost in my mind; All I could think about was that excruciating pain — and the all-too-real possibility that my promising football career had just ended before it began. My first game would be my last.

Crushed dreams

While I waited to see the specialist back in Chicago, I had an extremely hard time sleeping and focusing at team meetings. I was consumed with anxiety and fear and slid into the deepest depths of darkness. My life was shattering; my dreams and goals were falling like shards of glass. I had no Plan B in place. It had been my experience that most athletes are ill prepared, if not completely clueless, about the emotional and psychological impact of sustaining an injury, then trying to recover from it.

Now I was one of those athletes.

In fact, my traumatic injury signaled the end of my career, my dreams and my goals. I completely tore a bone off my left ankle and was going to be out for a lengthy period of time. The Bears reached an injury settlement with me, and just like that, my whole world came crashing down on me. My dreams were crushed.

What to do when this happens to you

Any highly successful person along the way has more than likely experienced adversity. The people at the top, the game-changers, have all had a lot of unsuccessful years before any of their major successes became known to the public.

The feelings rendered by crushed dreams don’t happen just to athletes forced out of a professional sport they’ve worked their whole life for. They happen to men and women from all different walks of life: business, politics, education, even parenting.

What did I learned from my own crushed dream? Plenty. Here are four things to help you recover should it happen to you:

1. Face the facts. 

If something has crushed your dream, do you find yourself in denial? My own experience was that I didn’t even think there was life after the NFL, so I hadn’t even reached denial yet. What I was in was a kind of death spiral.

I believed that if I couldn’t play football, then life as I knew it was over. If you yourself are in denial about a crushed dream, or you’re succumbing to the “death” feeling, where demons roam and nothing in life matters anymore, you need to face the facts. We all have to look at those facts objectively and analyze our next move, no matter how painful it is.

What helped me to face the facts was to seek out mentors of mine that I fully trusted as well as my support system of close friends and family members. By talking to them, I was able to get out of the denial trap and finally free myself from the internal pain robbing me of my peace.

Facing the facts can mean different things to different people. But a good place to start is mentors and loved ones that you completely trust. Their words and support in extremely difficult times can make a world of a difference. 

2. Don’t overanalyze.

When something happens to crush your dream, you’ll more than likely start to overanalyze. You might worry yourself sick, wondering what to do next. Or you might question your self-worth. You might tell yourself that you’re in a nightmare, and tomorrow you’ll wake up and things will be okay.

The worst thing you can do when you come face to face with adversity is to overthink things. Give yourself time to absorb the reality of the situation, and don’t rush to “fix” things. The first thing that I had to do was realize that I was creating false scenarios in my mind.

I eventually got to the point where I was telling myself that, yes, I had been injured in an NFL game, but this was not the end of the world. No matter how bad I felt about losing my dream, I was not going to die. 

3. Surrender. 

You can’t change what has happened, but you can change how you react to it. In the Beatles song “Tomorrow Never Knows,” there’s a line that says: “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream . . . that you may see the meaning of within.” This is perfect advice: Since you can’t change the situation, you may as well turn off your mind and surrender to it.

Only then will the solutions surface. Just as long walks and meditation can give you peace of mind and answers to questions that bother you, so can your surrender to pain. Of course, this is easier said than done, and I certainly struggled at first, myself; but the benefits far outweighed anything else.

Surrendering for me was all about feeling the fear and negative energy while moving forward anyway. Before that, I had been rejecting every fear and negative emotion, which actually made things a lot worse. When you welcome the fear and negative energy but continue to move forward, you feel a tremendous sense of gratification and heavy burden lifted off your shoulders. 

4. Accept. 

Surrendering to the situation means accepting it.  And, mind you, this was one of the hardest things for me to do right away. It took me a few weeks to accept myself as well as the situation. I kept asking myself over and over, What if I had tackled differently on that play? What if I had just played for a different team? I realize now more than ever that acceptance is crucial to forgiving yourself and moving on.

So, leave the what-ifs behind. I had to get rid of them before I could ever move forward. That meant taking action and not letting my injury paralyze me from going on to do something remarkable with my life.

This injury, which was one of the lowest events of my life, actually ended up giving birth to my career as a writer and keynote speaker. One of the most important things that you can do when you get knocked down by adversity is to just move forward.

And while the pain of a crushed dream can be excruciating for quite a while, these four steps little by little helped me get back on the right track and start the process of rebuilding my life. It is my hope that they can do the same for you.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com