When what you want is so far outside of your comfort zone that it scares you, fear can keep you stuck. I spoke with life coach and motivational speaker Sandra Possing to learn more about why it’s so hard to change our circumstances.

“It’s perfectly normal. It’s in our wiring,” says Possing. “But it’s an unhelpful tendency that holds us back from living up to our potential and creating kickass lives we love.”

It can be as simple as taking a snowboarding lesson, or as big as deciding to make a cross-country move or start a new career.

These small moments, over the years spanning our lives, change and shape us. They create our realities. What we wake up to every day is a result of the decisions we’ve made over and over again, every day.

When those decisions are made from a place of joy and self-love and faith, we wind up with beautiful lives that we love.

But when our daily decisions are made from a place of fear, we wake up every day, feeling not light and joyous, but small. Frustrated. Grumpy. Anxious. Scared.


Our Brains Are Literally Wired to Keep Us Small

It’s not Mother Nature’s fault, but in a way, it sort of is: the human brain is wired to do what keeps us small.

“In a lot of ways, you can choose to see fear as a gift. It can keep us alive in dangerous situations, yay! But it definitely also makes us avoid getting out of our comfort zones, which is the bummer. The really good news is that we can totally unlearn the habit and train ourselves to look fear in the eyes and say, “Okay homie, let’s dance.”

Neural pathways are connections in the brain made when we associate thoughts with things in the real world. As we make decisions and take actions, these neuro-pathways become more and more established, similar to a path walked over and over again.

Our brains see the path, and it’s familiar, it’s safe, it’s what we know. So even if there are thorns, even if there are things that we hate about it, we keep taking it because we know where it goes.

The Problem With Living On Autopilot

A happy, fulfilled life looks different for everyone — and most of the time, happiness is subjective and limited by what we think is possible.

When we make the same decisions every day and let fear talk us out of trying things a different way, the risk tradeoff comes with a steep price — we also never get the chance to change our lives and rise.

Some of the wildest success stories in our culture’s history come from people who stood in the face of total ruin and acted anyway. They could have lost everything and had every reason to play it safe, but they refused to let fear limit them.


Overcoming Fear Like a Boss—Meet Sandra Possing

Sandra Possing is a speaker, coach, and entrepreneur who helps people unleash their inner warrior. I know her through a fellow boss babe in my network, and all of Sandra’s programs get high praise.

Through her one-on-one coaching, group programs, speaking, writing, and social media platforms, Sandra is on a mission to wake more people up.

She helps introverted millennial women struggling with fear, self-doubt, or perfectionism to realize their incredible power and potential. She inspires and empowers them to break free from what’s holding them back, seriously step up their game, and create extraordinary lives they love.

Here are some simple ways Sandra’s students have moved past fear and gone on to change their lives in huge ways:


#1—Get Clear About What You Want

Success loves clarity. If you don’t know what you want, you’ll wind up with an assorted life full of random things that may or may not actually make you happy. 

Instead, get super, crystal clear on what you want, and visualize it every day. Some people like vision boards, other people like to just write about their goals in their journals. Me personally, I read my eulogy every morning as part of my coaching with Britnie Turner, and that keeps me focused.

“If you feel stuck and have no idea what you really want (which is often the case for people-pleasers who are used to putting their own desires last), start by figuring out what you DON’T want. This helps narrow it down, and provides a bit of relief from all the years of overgiving,” says Possing.

Figure out what really gets you pumped up, and revisit what you want every day.

“The more you imagine your goals, dreams, and desires as already done, already here, the more you normalize them in your mind. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and make-believe, and it’s actually the one calling most of the shots behind the scenes in your brain, so you may as well train it to believe in your dreams rather than your limitations! 

“When you start changing your belief system from the inside out, that changes how you think, feel, and act, and you’ll be more likely to notice and jump at opportunities that’ll move you closer to your dream life.”


#2—Stop Selling Yourself Short

Look, it’s okay to change your mind because what you want changes. My ideal life has shifted dramatically in the last five years, and it continues to do so every month.

But why it changes is way more important than anything else.

Don’t change your goals because you’re afraid you won’t hit them, or afraid for any reason. Change them because you can, and because you can have anything you want.


#3—Start Listening to Yourself

Your intuition is powerful. It’s primal. It’s your gut, your brain, and your most basic survival instinct.

But it doesn’t always jive with your neurological programming. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between fear and intuition,” says Possing.

“One way to start hearing the difference is to listen for the tone of the message you’re getting. Fear usually sounds like a whiny kid. It’s often loud, impatient, and mean. It may call you names and put you down. Intuition, on the other hand, is quiet. It feels more like a whisper in your heart or butterflies in your stomach. It sounds more like a trusted, loving grandmother who loves you unconditionally, urging you to follow your dreams.”

In a culture of constant stimulation and distraction, most of us have forgotten what a gut feeling feels like, so give yours a chance to be heard. Turn your notifications off. Run without music. Think over a cup of coffee while you watch the sun come up.

Ask yourself a question, and don’t think, just wait for your inner voice to speak up.

Then listen, and do what it says.


#4—Believe In the 5-Second Rule

We can fear a lot of really ridiculous things. Being ridiculed at the gym. The debt we go into starting a business. Being judged by other moms for having the nanny drop our kids off at school.

And all too often, we think ourselves right out of doing what we need to get ahead, to grow, to evolve.

If you know what you need to do and you’re just not doing it every day, try this: don’t think, just do. Use author Mel Robbins’ trick for making things happen from her book The 5-Second Rule. When you know what you need to do, don’t think. Count backward from five and then just do.

“When you get an inspired idea — one of those urges that comes out of nowhere and yet you immediately know that it’s right for you and will move you forward — but then choose to ignore it? It’s like slapping your freaking soul in the face,” warns Possing.

“Your high self, that part of you that is the most deep and authentic core of you, knows what’s best for you. The more you ignore it, the less you’ll trust yourself. Train yourself to listen to your instincts and simply act, and you’ll build tremendous courage, confidence, and self-respect over time.”

This simple mental hack breaks the cycle of talking yourself out of things with a distraction (in the form of the countdown) and taking a new action forms new neurological pathways that make doing what you need to do easier every time.


#5—Select Your Circle

We all have Negative Nancies in our friend circles, but we don’t need their input when it comes to pushing through fear. There are people in your life who live in their own constant state of fear and will always project that onto you. Either don’t share your evolutionary process with them or eliminate them from your network entirely. “I challenge my clients to not take advice from anyone who isn’t living the life they want,” says Possing. “You can listen to well-meaning friends and family members, graciously thank them for sharing their thoughts with you, and then simply ignore their advice. Instead, seek out guidance from successful mentors or follow role models whose values align with yours and whose work and personal lives inspire you.”

You cannot face fear if your entire social circle reinforces the concept constantly. The energy of your friends and family has an enormous impact, so be smart, and be intentional.

“In the manifestation world, they talk about how what you focus on expands,” says Possing. “What you think about you bring about. Where your attention goes, energy flows. We’re all so conditioned to focus on the negative. But doing so invites in more of the same. If you can instead train yourself to start focusing more on the positives, you will absolutely change your life. Choose to look at the possibilities instead of the limitations. The solutions instead of the problems. Your goals and dreams instead of your current circumstances.”

“When you learn to be brave and not only face fear but actually embrace it, you’ll discover new levels of aliveness. It’s where the magic happens. On the other side of fear is an opportunity to grow and expand.”

Take my advice:

Listen to yourself.

Feel the fear.

And then do it anyway.

And get more than you ever imagined was possible.


What’s waiting for you on the other side of your fear? Tell us on Facebook and Instagram and tag us in the post — then rise with us. @AvocadoMattress and @SandraPossing

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