The power of awareness: how to overcome fear, anxiety and self-doubt
How do people get out of their own head, face their fears and go after what they want in life? In other words, how did successful people pursue success in the face of risk, barriers, obstacles or adversity? How did they manage to silence the devil on their shoulder and go after what they want?
Fears of risk are often perpetuated by internal manifestations, or tricks of the mind so to speak. When humans lack focus, logic and awareness we tend to perpetuate fears. Fears of the mind can be illusory, manifested and perpetuated by the human condition. Of course, some fears are logical, which keeps people from making harmful or life-threatening choices. But we as humans have the power of discernment, where we can decipher between the ones associated with harm or self-imposed fears.
Expert on anxiety, Canadian author and psychologist Jordan Peterson said, “The key to releasing fears is to pay attention.” In other words, be aware. If you find yourself in a situation where you are getting anxious, ask yourself, why are you anxious? If you are irritated, ask yourself, why are you irritated? The conscious mind needs to recognize when you react, and get to the root of why you react in the way you do.
He goes on by saying that projecting and planning expectations and thoughts will only see to more anxiety. The key to releasing anxious behavior is to be present, be mindful, be aware. And with incorporating more awareness or by focusing singular attention, you tend to pursue what is meaningful and not what is expedient. Peterson said, “If you do what is expedient you have a short term goal in mind and try to bend everything towards that end. But if you’re doing what’s meaningful then you are just paying attention to what’s going on, and you react with truth. It’s a much more powerful way of living.”
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle believes that the key to living a happier life is consciously accepting the present moment as if we chose it ourselves. And in my research I have found that concept often repeated by successful leaders including Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson said, “You have the power to create meaning in your life. Stop searching for it, start creating it, start doing.” You have a responsibility to fulfill your purpose, and your purpose is not predestined. Rather than passively looking for it, purpose is found where passion meets action. He adds, “Do not ask where do you find meaning, instead ask how do you create meaning? Learning and growth about the world enhances meaning.”
For myself, the initial process of learning to be aware or pay attention was challenging. It was very difficult and often an emotional rollercoaster. But through practice, I slowly changed and I emerged with tremendous gratitude. Ever since the shift happened to practicing awareness I’ve experienced far less anxiety. It was like all of a sudden things clicked, my perspective shifted, and I felt a lot more at peace with my life, I felt a lot less stress. I feel happier and more at ease, because I have the reassurance that I am in control of the outcome of my life. Part of the process is to surrender your conditioning and programming that life happens to you, and accepting that you are in control of your life. Once I accepted that, I realized my journey was a beautiful experience, to which I am grateful for, and how I choose to react is because of my awareness. The practice of awareness influences who I want to be and I am no longer the product of my fears.
Unfortunately, success is not taught in school. And we often have to seek the answers through our own experience. What I’ve come to find is that the most successful people in life create meaning through their own ambition, curiosity, drive, and initiative. Not through their status, not through popularity, not because of their appearance or what university they went to. What I’ve discovered is this—what matters on the road to success is that you realize you have the power to create success. When you practice awareness and accept that you are in control, you begin to shed self-imposed fears, and you’ll see that success comes down to answering a simple question: what do you have to give with no expectation of return? The first step in achieving freedom to pursue what you want and creating success is being aware. This in turn releases limiting beliefs and self-imposed fears needed to be free to pursue your passions or in business vocabulary, provide a service or product that solves a problem. Pursuing goals for the enjoyment and not for monetary gain gives you the much required perseverance to continue when faced with setbacks, hardships or obstacles. And success can be achieved by pursuing and adapting ambitions, but never giving up on them.