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Face your Fear – It is no longer relevant

Face your Fear – It is no longer relevant

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”

–Judy Blume

On this website Danny and I talk a lot about achieving goals, results, goals, and going from where you are to where you want to be. Even more about overcoming struggles and obstacles, psychological imperfections and self-awareness. We try to share our experience on our journey, and hopefully you get something out of it.

What I notice in reactions to the blogs, talking to people, my own experience, and reading books about the topics, is that the one thing that is stopping people from doing something and thus achieving results, being successful, growing into a better you, or being happy, is FEAR. In this article I take a look at fear and why it is no longer relevant.

I read a book once by Steve Peters, the Chimp Paradox. In this book a theory is proposed of our brain having two parts, a rational part and an emotional part. The rational part is usually the one you think you use, but the emotional part has a much larger influence on you and your decisions than you might realize. The main thing I take out of it, is that the emotional or Chimp brain is in survival mode. And that it is not helping us in most modern day situations.

This survival brain has one job, to keep you safe and make sure you are reproducing your species. This of course very relevant in the hunter-gatherer days of the human species in which we spent more than 100.000 years (!). Don’t underestimate our hardwired survival brain. But nowadays this survival brain is mostly overreacting. Like thinking you are going to die, when you get a paper cut. Chill the fuck out. We are spoilt. We can get food ready-made at every corner, we drink water from the tap. We sleep in weatherproof housing. Because of technology and organization we are at the top of the food chain and have nothing to fear, but ourselves.

And that’s the whole point. We still fear stuff. Stuff we think are as real as a sabre tooth tiger jumping out of the trees, but are actually self-constructed thoughts. And that’s so unnecessary and sad with regards to achieving your own greatness or making the world a better place.

Let’s go into some tips I learned about facing fear and preparing yourself for it.

Breathe

When you are confronted with fear, don’t overreact. Get your shit together, breathe and stay calm. Take a Buddhist approach, and be in this moment. What exactly is happening at this specific moment. And what is a construct of your future projection of what might happen? Take a few deep breaths. If you have the time, step out of the moment and go outside, or do something else.

Every time when I experience a stressful moment on the job, I regain myself by focusing on the now. Literally taking some deep breaths helps a lot. Getting myself outdoors, or taking a walk. Simple things that clear the mind. It works.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

–Dale Carnegie

Remember your goal

When faced with a fear ask yourself, what do you really, really want? Why do it? What would your future-self think in this moment? What does your heart tell you?

Remembering your goals is a very powerful way to stay on track. When I have something on my mind, I remind myself constantly why I do it. If I will quit I know that my future me will regret it. And I don’t want to let myself down.

Grow up

A question that I got from the book The Chimp Paradox you can ask yourself is: “What would your grown up version do?” We all have some idea of what an uber wise, and calm grown-up would do in the face of fear. But doing it is another thing. Explicitly remind yourself, what would a wise grown-up do? This usually is enough to stop whining about the troubles ahead, to go ahead and be strong is face of resistance. Or to stop torturing yourself over the past, and focus on constructive ways to advance in the moment.

Get to know your fear 

Maybe you’ve encountered the fear a couple of times before. You might have an idea where it is coming from. Learn about your fear. What’s at the core? Why are you feeling the emotions connected with fear? The more you know about the root of your fear, the more you can do about it.

When I started a new company, I had some fears about if people would like it or not. This is at all not irrational if you are selling things to the same people. But when I realized the fear had more to do with the fear of public failing, I knew that I had to do it. Living with the fear of failing publicly is NOT what I want for myself. I am stronger than that. So I moved on.

The worst thing

What’s the worst thing that can happen? We don’t need to worry about food and water, large predators or life and death. At least in most civilized parts of the world. So what can happen if you face your fear?

Are you afraid to have no money? Guess what, most rich people are self-made, and had little money to start with. You can always start all over again, it’s not the end. Are you afraid of what others might think? Don’t worry about that. Globalization and access to the digital network will guarantee a place for everyone. No matter how crazy your niche, you will find folks that are like you.

So now you can remember yourself when facing fears to help you forward. Of course you can train yourself to be better and faster in overcoming fears. These are things I know help in preparing for fear.

Go extreme

Purposefully expand your limit. Do stuff that scares you! If you are afraid of heights, go high. If you are afraid of public speaking, speak. If you are afraid of being alone, travel abroad by yourself. The more things you do, the stronger you will be. And the less susceptible to fear.

Talk about it

Acknowledging that you have a certain block is the first step. Talk to people about how they got where you want to be. They probably had their fears as well. How did they cope? What can you learn from it?

Rationalize

Train your rational brain. Read books. Learn about how the world works, how your brain works, and about the subjects relative to your dreams and goals. Get the truth out. Use data and probabilities. Many people are afraid of dying from a terrorist attack, but get into their car without thinking. The actual probability to get killed in a car accident is much higher than a terrorist attack. The same thing with your own fears. Afraid of what your friends might think? Have you talked to them about it? And if they still don’t approve, is it so hard to find new friends? No.

Write it down

Confront yourself with your fears, your goals and dreams. Write empowering words, and read them to yourself. You can use them every day to prime yourself into a state of behavior. You might say to yourself that you are already successful in business, or you are already a very fit and professional athlete. If you say it to yourself, you will act like it. If you act like it, you will become it.

 

“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”

–Marilyn Monroe

 

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From Lost Boy to Purpose Driven – Creating Self-Awareness

From Lost Boy to Purpose Driven – Creating Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness

having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions

The following phrases are actual statements different people told me multiple times, be it in different wording.

  • My job is great actually. Even the pay is fine! But it’s just not for me…
  • I hate my job! “So why do you stay?”, I ask. What else should I do?!
  • I keep ending up with these wrong type of guys
  • This is my third education, but it’s still not what I’m looking for
  • Dan, how’d you advise me to get a sense of direction..??
  • etc..

MyStory

Imagine being eighteen and having the idea that you have to choose the direction of the rest of your life. You choose to attend university to become a high school teacher. In the third year you think: “what on earth am I doing here?!”. You’re about to quit, but you get offered a job as a teacher. You take it because you’ll make money, and because it’s “not that bad” (and because you are 21 years old). Of course your motivation is so low that you don’t make it to the finish line and you take another direction. You start a business with a friend in an utterly commercial sector which strands for certain reasons. Then you’re 25 and standing clueless in a retail store for a while. Diagnosis: Self-Awareness-Lack-itis.

Without a Root, There’s no Grip

Self-awareness is the necessary root for the right direction. It’s the little brother/sister of self-knowledge, and they go hand in hand. Respectively they’re the what and the why of your feelings, thoughts, emotions and actions. Together, these elements determine where you are and where you will be in life.

Self-Awareness, together with self-knowledge, will provide you with a grip on your life. Control. Control might have a freakish connotation about it. But paradoxically enough, control leads to freedom. Two fundamental needs of our human species. The freedom to choose, the freedom to have an own opinion, the freedom to execute on your ideas. Personal control, inherently, is a premise to these propositions.

Answering the Questions Asked

Now let’s address the questions we started of with. What exactly can, and in my opinion, should you do to become more self-aware.

  1. Meditate!

This one is by far, by miles distance, the best place to start and the biggest shortcut. To become self-aware, you have to be mindful of the things you do (or don’t do), think and feel. Meditation is about observing the contents and the qualities of your consciousness, which are the senses plus the thoughts and emotions. Meditating is for the mind, what sports is for the muscles. The more you train, the stronger it gets. Your awareness in general will expand, which is a life changing event in itself. I’ll stop myself from listing the other benefits science has ‘discovered’, millennia after the far east monks had empirically tested this already.

for Self-Awareness

  1. Ask the right questions

The last question in the introduction was asked me by a colleague a few years ago. The answer I gave him, I’d still give today. They seem so simple, yet they are fundamental. Just as the questions asked are fundamental questions. And the questions posed here connect seamlessly with Michel’s most important question. (Any questions?)

  1. What makes you happy? What daily events put a smile on your face?
  2. What are you good at?
  3. How can I make a money with this? How can I arrange my life so that my priorities will be in the foreground?

Answering these questions isn’t a matter of minutes. So don’t expect to answer them in a jiffy. To answer these questions you’ll need to prioritze them and be mindful (#1) of the answers daily life gives you. Also answer the opposite of questions a & b. Don’t underestimate it, and use #3!

  1. Write. Shit. Down.

In an older post I’ve already written about the con artist living in our skull. Some people are blessed with a memory like a vault. I only know a few of them. Good thing is, it is 2017. From 5 to 85 years old, everyone walks around with an external hard disk in his pocket. I’m in love with Evernote, but there are plenty of other ‘note’able apps (pun intended) that will improve your memory and creativity.

Be mindful, notice what makes you happy, and write down how you can build your life around it and monetize it (you have to eat after all).

  1. Read

Another phenomenon that I underestimated for the biggest part of my life. Reading the right books will give you perspectives you’ve otherwise would never get. It will give you new insights. It’ll take you to places you’ve never been, and it’ll teach you about yourself in a way that other people wouldn’t be able to.

We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there too

  1. Life is an experiment

This is how I look at life. And it’s actually quite a scientific way to look at it. You have to try to prove or disprove your hypotheses, your assumptions, beliefs. This leaves room for mistakes, which supports the idea of freedom. Basically you have to be ready to get high fived. In the face. With a chair. Preferably not by the Hulk, but it’s a possibility! It’s not the end though. That’s freedom.

for self-awareness

Good things don’t come easy. Absent self-awareness will not appear on it’s own. So you have to give it some effort. If you’re not prepared to put in a few minutes of your day, to determine the course of the rest of your life, then this post is not for you. And on top of that, you’re breaking our heart. Now you wouldn’t want that, would you?!

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You don’t Know You – How to Become More Self-Aware

You don’t Know You – How to Become More Self-Aware

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”

Ralph Ellison

 

Self-awareness. It is a concept that’s at the source of it all. If you are talking about change, improvement, growth, learning and magnanimity. Self-awareness is where it all starts. If you are not self-aware, how can you know where you need to grow, what you need to learn, or why you keep making the same mistake over and over again.

That’s why I want to address it in this article and give some tips on achieving self-awareness. Important is to write down, when you go into the mental search. Your mind and memory can trick you, so make sure you put it in hard writing for revision. I write down a lot of stuff, because I know it works. It has helped me in my decision-making, goal-setting, and self-awareness.

Ok let’s go.

  1. Retrace your life story

Everybody has their own specific life path. Some grow up in the city, others in rural areas. Some have a broken family, others had trouble in school. Many factors come into play in the first 20 years of your life. They form a big part of your personality and becomes a fixed identity. For some people changing it is nearly impossible. Your life story are all the decisions and events that took you to the exact time and place where you are now. Retracing back, can give you insights into your personality or behavior at this moment.

 

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

Michel de Montaigne

 

  1. What are your strong and growth points

Look to yourself as if you were a business you could invest in. What strengths do you have? What are you good at? What have you been doing for such a long time, to make you an expert in it? What sets you apart from the next guy or girl? Don’t be disappointed if you have not found such a thing. It is sometimes not as clear as a certain skill. This is merely a self-awareness exercise. It shows you if you have already build up certain skills during your past life. Next to strong points, there are weak points. But I prefer to talk about growth points, because all weak points can be turned around if you really want it. Having weak points is not a bad thing though. I have weak points, and love them. Because it allows me to make better decisions of what I am, and what I am not.

  1. What are your habits

Everybody has habits, whether small or extensive. Write them down and see what makes up your day. Be honest. Self-awareness can be a slap in the face, or even a concrete chair thrown by The Hulk himself. Pretending to be studying or working out, could turn out to be snacking and watching YouTube. Having clear insight into the habit of every single day, is the key to knowing what makes you tick, and what does not.

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

Lao Tzu

 

  1. What motivates or delights you

To know what makes you happy or what gets you out of bed is paramount for achieving happiness. And I think we all want some happiness in our lives. Being self-aware of what motivates you and brings you pleasure can help understand yourself.

  1. What is your dream or life goal

Write down in a mind map, or make a list of how your life will be in 10 years. If you don’t know where to start you could ask yourself the question; “If I had all the time and money in the world, what would I be doing?” This life goal or dream represents your current wish for the future. You can use it as a picture of your current self-awareness, and use it as a map for the future.

  1. Get honest feedback

There is no better way to get to self-awareness than asking other people how they see you. No matter how well you think you know yourself, another person can bring you a fresh perspective on you. Make sure to get honest feedback. Some people who like you, can try to soften some feedback. That’s not always helpful when you want to get a full perspective of yourself. Also don’t go with just one person. The more people you ask that know you in different situations, the better.

 

“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”

Leonardo da Vinci

 

For me certainly, the realization of the importance of self-awareness created a real mind shift. I use it still to grow, learn, and ultimately be happy. It being the concept at the source, you should start to know yourself.

 

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