Fear of failure; fear of being laughed at; fear of not being able to do it; fear of not being good enough, not confident enough. There are many reasons people use to not exercise. These are just some. Fear is a huge mind challenge. It is there to keep us safe, to stop us putting ourselves in a dangerous, threatening situation. When fear is used to avoid getting ourselves strong and healthy, it is an issue that needs addressing. Because, logically, being fit and healthy is good for our body and mind - good for how we live our lives and the future of our life yet to come. So, logically, we should all do it. So how can we ensure that the debilitating nature of fear doesn’t stop us from getting fit and healthy?
Exercise is one of the biggest stress-relievers and confidence-boosters out there. Discovering how much your body can do, even in a short space of time and in spite of your mind often telling you that you can’t do it, is hugely empowering! Once you start and realise what YOU are capable of, it filters through to your whole life. If I beat my fear demons completing a challenging workout, imagine what else I can achieve in spite of my fears? We are not living our lives if we shy away from challenges and stay hidden inside our comfort zones. We thrive when we achieve a goal in spite of our fear of doing it. Our sense of self-worth goes through the roof and we realise that each time we challenge ourselves we live up to a little bit more of our potential. Once that realisation hits, our confidence levels increase and we start to do more and more challenging and exciting things. We start living up to the potential inside of all of us. We start living our lives fully and reaching our true potential.
Our subconscious minds know all of this. The mind knows that starting a new challenge, be it exercise or something else in our lives, has the potential to disrupt the norm and take us outside our comfort zone. So naturally, that first exploration into the new, as small as it may seem logically, is seen by our subconscious as a huge threat to our safety and it throws up fear in its many forms to try and protect us.
Easy when you see it like that isn’t it? But what can we do to ease the mind’s self-defensive strategy and convince our subconscious that actually it is better and safer for us to exercise than not?
List all the positives and benefits: Yes, actually write out a list of all the good that will come out of you starting exercise. When a negative comes in to your head, think what the positive alternative is and write that down. No matter how small the reason, write it down. Make sure each reason is worded in a positive, encouraging manner. Then read it out loud. If you hear that inner voice question the statement, have a good look at why and find the positive, reassuring answer to the question and write that down. Keep reading aloud until the inner voice is happier with the list. Then put your definitive list somewhere where you will see it often - on your phone, tablet, laptop, fridge! Anywhere you can read it regularly!
Get Support: Often, the pull of our subconscious mind shouts really loudly and is hard to ignore. Having an outside person to walk you through what will happen, guide and encourage you throughout the process, is not only reassuring to you but also helps settle your fears. Talking through the objections your mind comes up with will help clarify what you need to do to get your head in the game and move forward. For some, this is a close friend or a person you admire that is already doing what you want to do. For others, it is a fitness coach or personal trainer that can see your potential and create a programme for you to slowly move forward whilst steadying your fearful mind.
Plan: The mind loves a plan! And with a plan comes the creation of habits. In this case, good healthy habits! With a plan you can set goals of every size. Big goals that may take some time to achieve, right down to small goals that are achievable in a day, week or month. This way, you create baby steps to achieve so that your mind becomes used to the idea gradually and doesn’t feel threatened by the perceived enormity of the greater goal!
Start: Set a date, and when that date comes, take a deep breath and go for it. With some fears we have to just acknowledge it is there, remind ourselves why we are doing this fearful thing, know it will be better on the other side and then jump! Use the support you have and know that you can do it. Have confidence in your plan, follow it, and gradually that confidence will build inside you and you will believe in yourself and your ability more and more.
Don’t hide from your fear, don’t let it control what you do. Find the positive, find the support, make a plan and live your life to its fullest potential!