Whenever you head out on a journey it’s smart to take along a few supplies. Whether it’s some water on an afternoon hike or a map and some snacks on a road trip, a few basic provisions are indispensable along the way.
Many of us would like to be less fearful, less anxious, less worried and self-doubting but let’s face it, we’re not there yet. We’ll have to take a journey to get from our current place of anxiety to that land of fearlessness. What are the supplies we’ll need to get us all the way there?
Build your self-esteem
Fearlessness is built on confidence, which is built on self-esteem. And self-esteem is built when one small accomplishment is stacked on another and then another. Every time we achieve a goal, win a victory or pull off an achievement, our self-esteem grows. We feel better about ourselves and we’re more willing to take on the next challenge.
Things get sticky, though, when obstacles come along and our anxieties and self-doubts fill the windshield again. When that happens, the self-esteem disappears and it seems like we’re back to square one. That’s why it’s important to bring a knapsack full of victories, accomplishments and achievements along for this journey.
Document your successes
Start by making a list – it MUST be written – of five things you did before you were 18 that you were really proud of. Doesn’t matter how big or small they seem now, they were big to you at the time. Perhaps you caught a fly ball in little league. Or maybe you stood up in front of your sixth-grade class and read a poem you’d written. I remember, at about age 12 or 13, building a go-cart from bits and pieces of scrap metal and an old lawnmower motor that my Dad had in the garage. My today-self can see it as a rusty pile of junk, held together by bits of wire, but I’ll never forget the incredible feeling when it actually ran and I was bumping noisily around the front yard.
As you add each success to the list, close your eyes and remember how you felt at the time of that victory. Put yourself back into that feeling place for a few moments and let yourself glow all over again.
Next, make a list of five things you accomplished in college or at your very first job. Again, they don’t have to be huge in your eyes today. What matters is that they were victories to you at the time. The challenges you overcame in those moments seemed daunting, even overwhelming in their moment, but somehow you found the courage, the resources, the determination to do it anyway. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back again today for that win you scored back then.
Expanding your comfort zone
While you can repeat this exercise for as many time periods in your life as you’d like, make sure you finish up with a list of five successes you had last week. It might take some thinking because we’ve gotten into the habit of focusing on the things that haven’t or might not work out. But they’re there. Maybe it was a great meal that you cooked, a really insightful report you wrote or the way you brought a smile to someone else. Each one is a victory, an accomplishment, a win. And each time we bring these wins back into our minds, our self-esteem grows. The more our self-esteem grows, the more confident we become, the more willing to try something new and different and challenging. And every time we try and succeed at something that’s new and challenging, the closer we get to fearlessness.
When you’re facing a challenge that seems daunting, it’s too easy to forget the things you’ve already accomplished, the challenges you’ve already overcome and the bad-ass warrior that you actually are. So when you head out on the road towards fearlessness, be sure to bring along a big supply of previous victories.