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After having boldly decided on some goals/intentions to work towards achieving this year, it's not uncommon to get the speed wobbles and start to doubt whether or not you can really achieve what you want to, life coach Jan Aitken writes.
"Do I have the time?'', "Is it really what I want?'', "What if I don't get there?'', or "I'll look really silly if I can't pull it off!''.
When we leave our comfort zone, no matter how big or small the change we are proposing, fear and doubt commonly come along for the ride.
What seemed thoroughly achievable, fun and rewarding starts to get lost in a foggy haze of second thoughts.
Relax, that makes you completely normal. Believe it or not the fear response is designed to keep us safe. Originally, fear stopped us being eaten by wild animals, it kept us on our guard and taught us to look out for and, hopefully, avoid danger.
Today, for example, fear is really useful if you step out in front of a car. The brain and body will kick into action and you'll leap out of its way.
However, for many of us in the Western world, life-threatening situations are rare but the fear response still kicks in for much less threatening situations. Once fear opens the door, the doubts creep in.
Fear and doubt can hold us back from extending our boundaries, trying something new and achieving the things we want.
Potentially we'll never step outside our comfort zone and we'll get to the end of our days wondering "What would've happened if I had tried this'' or "What if I had given that a crack?''.
Typically our response is to take the fears and doubts on board and become discouraged even to the point of being paralysed by them. Perhaps we don't want to risk failing, feeling humiliated, having to ask for help. So it's safer to minimise or shelve those goals and intentions and just carry on.
It's also not uncommon to find that the fears or doubts that arise about our ability, worthiness, or right to do what we want to do, are the voice of a parent or influential adult. Those messages may have been with us since childhood.
Another source for the fears and doubts can be negative messages from society: "You're too old'', "You're not good enough'', "It's too late'' or "Great things don't happen to people like you''.
For some reason, people love to tell you why you'll fail, why you're crazy, why it's too late or why you'll become poor. They'll give you examples of others who tried what you want to try and failed. When you take steps to change your life it can trigger all kinds of responses in others.
Deciding to live the life you imagine can be a testing process. When our doubts and fears kick in, they can seem huge.
However, there's another way to handle fears and doubts.
How about using awareness and curiosity to take a look at them. Fear is an emotion that can give us information.
What is it we're afraid of? Instead of just letting fear and doubt claim our thoughts, how about stepping back, detaching from them and saying "Hang on. What if I could do it? Maybe that thought of ‘I always fail' isn't true'', and "Where's that thought really coming from?''.
In some cases an obstacle or argument against your plan might be valid, but in the majority of cases, doubts, fears and disbelief are just an illusion.
Cultivate curiosity and awareness and start to notice how and when your doubts and fears show up. Get those negative influences out into the light of day and start to release what's holding you back.
Polish up those goals and intentions and make 2016 your year!
- Jan Aitken