Fear immobilizes us, paralyzes us, and stops us from achieving our greatness. Yet, on the other side of every fear is the person we want to become. For the past few weeks, I’ve been forced to overcome many of the fears that come with being a new parent, such as endless diaper changes, sleepless nights, and worry if I’m taking proper care of our little angel. The ideas in this article came to life and helped me turn the challenges of parenthood into beautiful moments of growth, so I’m really looking forward to sharing them with you.
In our previous Self-Mastery article, we continued developing strategies for overcoming our inner fears so that we can fully unlock our potential and achieve the extraordinary. In this article, we will finish this topic and explore two of the most important strategies for overcoming fear.
Our inner voice, the voice inside our head, is a powerful part of our inner identity and self. It is also one of the most malleable aspects of ourselves. When we look in the mirror, what do we see? Do we see greatness? When we’re alone, how do we talk to ourselves? Do we have a positive, inspiring, and motivating self-talk, or do we criticize and put ourselves down? So much of our identity and inner world are influenced by our surroundings. While we each have the ability to determine our inner world, mold and craft our identity, and shape our inner experience, we are also susceptible to the impact of the people in our lives. Our friends, colleagues, and family can shape the way we relate and speak to ourselves.
Just as negativity from the people surrounding us can lead us to believe we are incapable, causing us to give up on our dreams, so too, positivity from the people around us can inspire us to strive for our greatness. Surrounding ourselves with friends, family members, and teachers who help feed us positivity, encouragement, and optimism can help us overcome our fears, doubts, and negative self-perceptions. We need to find like-minded people, those who share or at least understand our passion, our values, and our goals.
Of course, the people who understand and support us may sometimes point out where we are falling short and where we can improve, but constructive feedback is critical to our growth and this type of help should be embraced, as well. Having supportive people around you does not mean that they always tell you you’re perfect, but that they want to raise you to your highest level and inspire you to be your best.
This is also the power and importance of reading and listening to positive, inspiring, and empowering messages every single day. Just like your body needs healthful food for nutrition, your inner self needs healthful and positive messaging for nutrition, to keep it fueled. This is also one of the most important roles of a life-coach. When I work one-on-one with clients as a high-performance coach or life coach, in addition to helping them create concrete plans for achieving their goals and holding them accountable, I make sure to motivate and inspire them. The key is to ensure that they stay passionate and excited about their growth and have the confidence and positive attitude to strive after achieving their goals.
Faith in Hashem
The greatest source of confidence for confronting our fears is the understanding that we are connected to something infinitely beyond ourselves, the Source of everything: Hashem. The underlying nature of conquering fear is the journey of walking into the unknown, the willingness to live by faith, not only by certainty. While we can develop a level of certainty through mastery, at the end of the day, true greatness requires relying on Hashem as we embark on the vulnerable journey outside of our comfort zone, into the unknown. When we don’t have faith in Hashem, we remain shackled by fear, unwilling to step outside of our comfort zone, into the unknown. When we understand that the challenges that we face in life are sent to us by Hashem in order to help us actualize our potential, and that Hashem never gives us a challenge that we can’t overcome, we will have the confidence to confront our fears and journey towards our greatness.
Often, we impose limits on ourselves, creating a mental cage that holds us back from our greatness. A young boy once went to the circus and was astonished when he saw a giant elephant tethered to the ground by a thin rope. Curious, he walked over to the elephant trainer and asked: “How are you holding down such a huge elephant with such a tiny rope? The rope doesn’t look very strong. This elephant could break down a brick wall; why doesn’t he break free of this tiny rope?” The trainer smiled and explained: “When this elephant was a baby, weighing just 250 pounds, we tied it up with this same rope. Every day he tried to break free, but he couldn’t manage to do it. He tried and tried, but to no avail. After a few months, he finally gave up, convinced that it was impossible to escape. Now, he weighs two thousand pounds, and is strong enough to easily break free of these ropes. However, in his mind, he is still chained by an unbreakable rope, so he doesn’t even try to escape.”
What happens when the elephant discovers that the rope isn’t strong enough to hold him down? A fire once broke out in the circus, and during the ensuing chaos, the circus tent collapsed. When the dust settled, the trainers began searching for the elephant. To their amazement, they couldn’t find the elephant anywhere. Finally, a few hours later, they found him wandering in the nearby forest. During the fire, the elephant had been overcome with fear and adrenaline; in his panic, he easily broke free of his ropes. When they tied him down again, the elephant escaped just moments later. They tried again, but the elephant broke loose once more. It was clear that once the elephant realized that the ropes couldn’t hold him, he wouldn’t be held back by these “chains” any longer. While at one point he thought these ropes controlled him, he now realized that the only one holding him back was himself! The trainers had no choice; they had to get a new elephant for the circus.
Does this idea ring true for you? How often do we create mental cages of our own? How often do we allow other people’s opinions of us to become our reality, to define what we can or cannot do? Sometimes it’s a friend’s or loved one’s voice that rings in our head. But worst of all, it’s usually our own inner voice that is the cause of our self-doubt. We convince ourselves that “we can’t”; we’re not smart enough, good-looking enough, or funny enough. We’re too old or too young, too short or too tall. But here’s the secret: We are the only ones who hold the key to our mental cages, because we created the lock. Opening the lock is simple; it requires only that we make a new decision, that we change our identity, that we believe it is possible. History is being read, but it’s also being written by people with courage and imagination. We need to imagine a greater future, a greater version of ourselves. We need to close our eyes and picture an ideal future, then open our eyes and make that our reality. There truly are no limits; when we are in touch with our best and highest selves, and connected to Hashem, the Source of all self, anything is possible. When we live on a higher plane, believing that Hashem is guiding us at every stage of our journey, we’ll be able to find the confidence, drive, and passion to strive for greatness.
It’s time to stand up, gather our inner strength, and put an end to the reign of fear. First, spend some time writing down all of your fears; acknowledge everything that is holding you back. Once you’ve finished making this list, write down exactly how you are going to overcome each of these fears. Go through the various approaches we developed and choose at least one approach for each of your fears. And remember, most fears are not real; they exist only in your mind. Just as the power of fear resides within you, so does the power to overcome it. And with the help of Hashem, we can not only overcome our fears, but also recognize that in the process of overcoming our fears, we find our true greatness.
If you enjoyed this article and want more, then visit my website (ShmuelReichman.com) and learn more about Self-Mastery Academy, my ten-week online course. Join our vibrant community of hundreds of people striving to become their greatest selves.
Rabbi Shmuel Reichman is an author, educator, speaker, and coach who has lectured internationally on topics of Torah, psychology, and leadership. He is the founder and CEO of Self-Mastery Academy, the transformative online self-development course. Rabbi Reichman received Semikha from RIETS, a master’s degree in Jewish Education from Azrieli, and a master’s degree in Jewish Thought from Revel. He is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Chicago and has also spent a year studying at Harvard as an Ivy Plus Exchange Scholar. To find more inspirational content from Rabbi Reichman, to contact him, or to learn more about Self-Mastery Academy, visit his website: www.ShmuelReichman.com.