“Fearlessness is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let your fears run you.” Lisa Firestone; the Huffington Post 2014
Today’s top Neuropsychologists have made exciting new discoveries about the physiological location of where “courage” comes from in our brains. Better yet, not only do we know the direct location, but how it functions and directly impacts our behaviors. There is a specific region in our brains, called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex. This specific region is the driving force that gives us the oomph we need to act courageously. It is truly the thrust behind our courageous acts — ok, so what do courage and fear of failure have to do with one another? Everything! Imagine this… What would your life look like, If you could train your brain to act courageously on our own behalf!? What would could you accomplish, better yet, what would you want to accomplish if you had the courage to go for it? We can absolutely train our brains to Find the Courage; and Overcome Fear of failure… (Once and For All!)
1) Clarity is a GREAT First Step:
Let’s be clear, we are not just talking about “ambition” or simply “guts”, we are talking about a sense of SelfWorth. We could likely agree that all human beings are infinitely worthwhile, unfortunately we do not all have a sense of true worth. Brene Brown, a researcher from the University of Houston, suggests that the negative belief system we have about our “worthiness” causes most of us to live our lives from a place of fear. Ultimately, whether our sense of personal worth is a conscious or unconscious thought, we are driven by the fear behind it. What are we afraid of? Most commonly; Feelings of vulnerability and failure are at the top of the list, followed by feeling exposed, unaccepted, and insufficient.
How do you find clarity? Vulnerability and Expose, Expose, Expose ! Stanford neuroscientist Philippe Goldin told Lifehacker . “Exposure is hands down the most successful way to deal with phobias, anxiety disorders, and everyday fears of any sort,”.
A) Uncovering Fears: This isn’t an easy first step, but a huge one. Expose yourself… to yourself! What are you most fearful of? Embracing the “feeling” of vulnerability and find the true source. The process should be very similar to peeling an onion. There are deeper layers to peel back, so don’t just stop at the skin. Look at what you are fearful of and then look underneath that layer. For example, we may think we are avoiding taking action on a goal, telling ourselves we must not want it very badly. To recognized that we actually just do not want to feel vulnerable and show our “true self”. Under that? perhaps, If people see who I really am, they may not love me. So what happens? We avoid it all together and tell ourselves, we must not be that motivated to accomplish it. Researchers suggest that acting courageously on your own behalf demands an organic understand about what drives the fears that stop you. Denial and avoidance does not fuel or support courageous action, so exposing your fears is a must.
B) Awareness of your Thoughts: Once you have exposed some of your fears pay close attention to your own thoughts. Yes, think about thinking. Cognitive Psychologists have identified for many years how long specific thought patterns erode our self-esteem. Thought Distortion occurs automatically and often without recognition. So let’s expose your automatic thoughts and Core Beliefs. Break them down by determining the difference between what is a fact and what is an assumption. Making feelings a fact is a bad trap so beware. For example “I feel worthless, so I must be worthless” is and unproductive core beliefs and damaging thought pattern. Distinguish the difference between productive thoughts and beliefs about yourself and unproductive thoughts and beliefs about yourself.
Creating a TRUE breakthrough… Innercise ! Consistently applying scientifically based techniques is the key. A psychologist for the US Navy, by the name of Marc Taylor, conducted research on Olympic athletes to distinguish what types of behaviors they employed in order to perform at such high levels. Dr. Taylor discovered that athletes who actively practiced techniques such as innersising, for example detailed visualizations, positive affirmations, and utilizing empowering supportive techniques, were substantially better able to cope with the extremely high levels of pressures and demand than most. These athletes were proven to have substantially stronger self-esteem as a result. So yes, actively exercising will bare sweet fruit.
2) Define Self Worth and Innercise: Practicing Courageously: Researchers and experts in the field of psychology have drawn long term consistent conclusions that people with a positive sense of self worth and strong self-esteem think about and talk to themselves differently than those without. By focusing on what is
“wrong” with themselves, people with low self-esteem feel worthless and deficiente. They quickly feel defeated, demotivated and experience less joy. This is a vicious circle that builds. Instead, try self affirmations and actively practice positive thinking. It gets easier the more you practice, but will end up making all the difference. Try this on and you will be shocked! Three times a day, stand in front of a mirror, and take 5 deep slow breaths. Look into your own eyes and courageously offer yourself a gift. Repeating a positive affirmation such as, “I am an incredibly valuable and worthwhile person” or “I have everything I need to make my dreams come true”. Courageous acts on your own behalf will without question strengthened your self-esteem muscle and directly impact your fear of failure. This has long been fact as even Aristotle wrote,“You will never do anything in this world without courage.”
A Research Project Presented to the Faculty of The George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management Pepperdine University wrote “The only way out of fear, is through it. And it’s true: One of the most effective ways to banish fear is to repeatedly force yourself to face what you’re afraid of.” Repeated exposure to low and progressive levels of fear ultimately the only way through it. So consider this… Uncomfortable with reaching out to people? Reach out! Afraid of public speaking? Speak! Courageously expose and take action. Your sense of self-worth and self-esteem will sky rocket! Do One Thing Each Day That Scares You: “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it”—Mark Twain. Practice consistently and you will evolve either way.
3) Setting Your Sights; Establish Goals: Fears acknowledged, your Self Worth determined, practicing Positive Thoughts and Taking Direct Action… now it’s time to write down your goals. Using courageous bold language, put them down on paper. With as much detail and vision as you can muster up. Consider the small milestones and the large milestones and how you plan to celebrate them. Remind yourself that this is not written in stone and you have the freedom to rewrite, reinvent and recommit if you so desire.
4) Develop Your Strategy and Create Actionable Steps: Goals and vision without strong a clear strategy and actionable steps will surely go south. However, taking action and practicing will absolutely build your self-esteem. It is a win win! Again, these actions all strung together will bare amazing fruit!
5) Employing Compassion: According to Webster’s Dictionary, The definition of compassion is the following “ compassion implies pity coupled with an urgent desire to aid or to spare <treats the homeless with great compassion.” The idea employing compassion means that you treat yourself as you would likely treat others building new
skills. With love, generosity and kindness actively practice compassion for yourself and displays of humanity.
Concluding Thoughts: There is no question that the fear of failure can profoundly alter our direction and quality of life. It is true that often times a fear of failure can drive and motivate us, however, more commonly they work to hurt and defeat us. Most likely they are the direct source that paralyze us and keeps us from pursuing our biggest dreams. An ongoing negative inner dialogue and dysfunctional core beliefs undermines our self worth and self-esteem limiting our courage to pursue and accomplish those things we want most in life. A continuous chipping away at our self-esteem, reveals itself and when faced with obstacles and challenges and we begin to interpret our feelings as proof of who we really are. Exposing your fears and negative self talk with courage and compassion is however the game changer. Knowing that courage comes directly from our brain, puts you back behind the wheel. Meaning when you act from a place of courage and deny that negative inner dialogue your self-esteem muscle grows exponentially. Using proven techniques such as positive affirmations and progressive goals setting, alters your perspective and frame of mind without question as is the thrust behind our courageous acts. You do not have to just imagine what your life would look like If you could train your brain to act courageously on our own behalf, but can actually do it! Remember… If self-esteem was once poorly developed and learned, it can absolutely be rebuilt up again.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227268.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and wellbeing. American Psychologist, 55, 6878.
Firestone, Firestone , (2015) Psychology expert on relationships, parenting, self destructive thoughts and suicide; author, ‘Conquer Your Critical Voice’
Dr. Salvatore Maddi Dec. 2010 Webinar “ Psychological Hardiness: The Key to Resilience Under Stress .” 2005. Pellentesque, D. Iaecenas. Some Scientific Work Published Somewhere. In Proceedings of the 2001 PPP International Conference of Doc Templates, PPP Press, 2005.
Johnson, M., & Forsman, L. (2010). Competence strivings and self-esteem: an experimental study. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 417430.
Johnson, M. (2008). The dynamics of personality and health: a hierarchical model considering the role of self-esteem. International Journal of Psychology, 35, 272.
Kansi, J., Glant, R., & Johnson, M. (2011). Self-esteem structure and personality: comparing eating disorder patients and healthy controls. International Journal of Psychology, 35, 280.
Johnson, M. (2009). The importance of self attitudes for type A, internality, externality and health status. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 777789.
Johnson, M. (2004). Approaching the salutogenesis of sense of coherence: the role of ’active’ self-esteem and coping. British Journal of Health Psychology, 9, 419432.
Blom., V., Johnson, M., & Patching, G. R. (2011). Physiological and behavioural reactivity when one’s self worth is staked on competence. Individual Differences Research, 9, 138152.
Johnson, M. (2011). Active and passive maladaptive behaviour patterns mediate the relationship between contingent self-esteem and health. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 178182.
Johnson, M., & Patching, G. R. (2013). Self-esteem dynamics regulate the effects of feedback on ambition. Individual Differences Research. (in press)
Johnson M. (2012). Extreme responding to self-esteem items: the role of conceptualization and item content. (submitted for publication).
Rajamäki, S., & Johnson. M. (2012). Preliminary evidence for the role of mindfulness training for competence based self-esteem and burnout. (submitted for publication) Huffington Post The Science Of Conquering Your Fears — And Living A More Courageous Life
09/15/2013 08:19 am ET | Updated Sep 16, (2013) A QUALITATIVE EXPLORATION OF COURAGE A Research Project Presented to the Faculty of The George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management Pepperdine University