The Secret to Facing This Scary World
Overcome Fears to Have It All
We human beings are an insecure lot. We wish that we were more confident… that we could tell people what we really think… that we could ask for what we really want… that we could get ourselves to do something important, however much it frightens us. Life coach and regular Daily Health News contributor Lauren Zander says people often ask her how to deal with their insecurity. They wonder how to overcome the fears they bump up against whenever they think about what they truly want from life. The answer, she says, is simple and involves just a single element. Once they get it, people can conquer their fears and experience unshakeable self-confidence. “This comes from one place only — having personal integrity, which is complete trust in yourself to do what you say you will do,” says Lauren. “It seems counterintuitive that a fear of things external could be solved by trust in yourself, but it really is true.”
Many people mistakenly believe that integrity is based on their behavior with others, that it means following through if they tell another person that they’re going to do something. But personal integrity is really about taking internal responsibility for all your decisions — not simply doing what your boss says… or taking a stand because you’re a board member… or staying on the straight and narrow path because you don’t want to get into trouble. These are obligations and forms of outer responsibility, says Lauren. When it comes to themselves, people will say they keep their promises but then will have a list of reasons why they can’t eat right, exercise, be patient with family members and so on. “Hanging on to beliefs about why you can’t keep promises to yourself enables you to think you have integrity,” says Lauren. “But,” she points out ” your soul always knows the truth.” The more often your soul watches as you fail to keep promises to yourself, the more insecure you will feel about your world in general.
“Every day that you fail to do what you should — just for yourself — eats away at your self-confidence and respect and erodes one of the most important elements in life, your personal integrity,” says Lauren. On the flip side, “People who learn to keep a promise to themselves — no matter what it is — have the power to change anything in their life, because they know they can trust themselves to do it,” she says.
The Road to Real Integrity
A first step is to consider the primary areas of your life (your health, your career, how you manage your finances, relationships with family, friends and your significant other) and evaluate whether your life is everything that you want it to be in each area. You may have an integrity issue in the parts of your life that don’t measure up. The danger here is in not being completely honest, brushing aside situations you consider tolerable rather than identifying them as broken. For instance, you might accept the body that is “okay” instead of trim and healthy… the relationship that’s fine but not great… the job you can barely endure but “need” to pay the bills but that dooms you to a life of mediocrity. Wouldn’t you rather have the confidence to bring about change? This is how greatness happens.
After you have evaluated five or so major areas of your life, pick one that is really troubling and address it. This will be the start of learning that you can make promises… keep promises… and make a difference in your life. You might decide to stop complaining about your inability to save money and start depositing a few dollars each week in a special account… or decide to eliminate sugar completely from your diet. Start with small steps that are concrete and achievable, as even small achievements can make a big difference.
Next, tell at least one person you are close to about what you are doing and for how long — this is “practice” for keeping a promise to yourself. “Assign a consequence,” urges Lauren. “Perhaps for every minute you’re late, you pay the person you leave waiting a dollar, or even a dime.” It’s not about making it painfully expensive, but rather to help you to stay focused on your commitment to your promise and to teach yourself to stop making excuses. The consequence makes you focus every time you keep or break the promise, so you quickly realize how your excuses have gotten in your way — telling yourself you need sleep more than exercise today, for instance, or blaming traffic for making you late again. Lauren gets tough with clients who complain that it’s impossible to keep a promise, taunting them that if they were paid $1 million to accomplish the task, they’d likely find a way.
“We all need to realize that we do have the power to keep our promises,” says Lauren. As you stay the course, day after day, your mental drama will begin to quiet down and good feelings about yourself will arise. “You will experience the pride of having personal integrity and realize what a great asset in life this is… there is no better feeling in the world than respecting yourself,” says Lauren.
The Next Step
Now that you know this about yourself, Lauren says it is time to decide how to use the knowledge. In what areas of your life are you being fearful? What have you not addressed that could, in fact, be improved or changed?
“If you don’t ever experience fear, you need to ask if you are really going after things that matter to you,” says Lauren. She advises that you take a deep look into your life to identify issues and challenges that you have never really conquered — for example, your ability to be truly intimate with others or to actively pursue advancement in your career instead of waiting for someone to promote you. Such areas are fabulous opportunities to see where your excuses have been holding you back. Make yourself a promise — or two — about new and different behaviors and then watch how it lifts your life to a higher and far more satisfying level.