Check this out.

I Can Do These Things/I Can't Do These Things.

It’s very simple.  Well, sorta simple.

This is a snapshot of your mind.  On the left are things you have reasonable confidence and self-assuredness that you can do without a problem.  If we were to list out the contents, that would probably include tying your shoe, riding a bike, walking down the sidewalk, etc.

On the right side are things that you don’t feel fully confident about.  Maybe that’s being able speak in front of a group.  Maybe it’s asking somebody out on a date.  Perhaps it’s whether you’ll be a good parent, whether you’ll be able to secure that promotion, get into college, jump out of a plane, etc.

Let’s go back to the first one. What feelings accompany this side?  Mostly positive, right?  When you learn how to do stuff, you feel good about yourself.  Self confidence.  Pride.  And to some degree: relief.  There’s little question anymore that you’re able to do what you weren’t sure you would be able to do.

When I went to Italy on my honeymoon last week, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to converse with the locals.  Between learning a little Italian before the trip (preparedness) and just diving in and trying to speak English (action), I found that I was very quickly able to get over my fears about being in a foreign country where they speak a different language.  And the more I did it, the more it led to greater action, more comfort, more pride.  My world got bigger the further away I got from my fears.

But, on the right side…what feelings are associated with that?  It’s been said that you can’t feel an emotion (i.e. fear, anxiety, dread) that doesn’t first stem from a thought.  So, if you believe you can’t do something, you’re generally going to fear it.  And most people don’t like the feelings that accompany fear.  It’s painful.

Since we’re creatures that generally avoid pain, we’ll go to great lengths to get around it.  That means avoidance behavior, denial, self medicating, and this can even lead to damaging behaviors, i.e. addiction, etc.

The bottom line is this: the only way to transfer your thoughts/feelings from the right to the left of that picture is to prove to yourself that you can do it.  And how do you do that?  You do the thing you’re afraid of doing.

Jump off the high dive.  Go up to the top floor in the hot, crowded elevator.  Ask for the phone number.

There are different ways you can expose yourself to those situations; for some, it’s better to go slowly.  For others, jump in full force and just do it.  It depends on the belief, the fear, and the circumstances.

But until you’re honest with yourself that, 1) you’re afraid of something and 2) the only way to get over that fear is to take some kind of action, you’re doing yourself a big disservice.  So why not face it?