Free Yourself from Fear

Fear -- of failure, of change, or of disappointing others -- can cause us to make decisions that rob us of true happiness. Here, Dr. Phil's seven steps to finally living your passions.
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Living in Fear

Have you been allowing fear to dominate your life, why you do what you do, and even where you do it? I'm not talking about day-to-day fears of things like spiders, heights, and public speaking; we all have those.

What I'm talking about is the stomach-turning realization that just about every major decision you've ever made has been to please, appease, or somehow meet the needs of everyone -- except yourself. The realization that you have sold out on yourself and your dreams because you were afraid you might fail or displease those people whose opinions you value.

I'm talking about the fact that you make decisions because you're scared to death of what might happen if you don't take the safe way out. That you will settle for what you don't want instead of pushing for what you do want because you are afraid you might not get it and are scared of how much that would hurt. You are afraid that if you don't settle for a "bird in the hand" you will never get the two in the bush. I'm talking about the fact that you will tell yourself no over and over again because you don't want to face the fear associated with taking a risk of falling flat on your face and thus allowing people in your life to say, "I told you so!"

Rather than possibly standing alone or having to fight for what you truly wanted, dreamed of, or hoped for, you went along with the crowd or let somebody else -- maybe your spouse, parents, friends, or employers -- tell you what you should like, want, or do. Peer pressure, unfortunately, is not an adolescent-only phenomenon. The dangerous thing about a fear-based mind-set is that it paralyzes you and puts you in a comfort zone that's safe and predictable, but causes you to waste precious time in your life on things you don't really want. You've stayed in that comfort zone, scared to death that you would be rejected, that you would fail, disappoint, hurt, or be too much trouble if you dared to say, "Wait a minute, what about me? What about what I want or need?"

Any of this sound familiar? If so, rest assured you're not the only one living this way. In my opinion, probably 80 percent of all decisions are fear-based.

I've been there myself many times. For example, I stayed in private practice for years for all the wrong reasons -- for my dad, for my family, for a society that smiles on young, successful doctors. But it wasn't what I wanted to do. Finally I woke up, looked in the mirror and realized I didn't much like who I saw. That's when I started taking steps to close down my practice and open up a trial consulting firm that (while very risky) turned out to be more fun than the law should allow. Fifteen years later, after discussing it with my family, I took another leap, moving to Hollywood to pursue my own television show. I guess you could say the rest is history.

Continued on page 2:  What Happened to the Real You?


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