Overcoming the Fear and Worry that Can Limit Choices

(c) 2012 Carol James, Founder of InspiredLiving.com

Do you find yourself severely limiting what you do with your life simply because you fear what others might think. Or perhaps you make a choice based on what feels right to you, but then worry so much about what others will think that you dont enjoy the choice you've made.

Sometimes we allow other people to limit our choices because we value their opinions and feelings more than our own. For example, let's say youre in a stable career that pays well and provides good benefits. From an outsider's view, you seem to be doing well. But you feel totally unfulfilled in your work, and you know that you would love to start your own hot air balloon business, which has been a lifetime dream of yours since you were a teenager. You might:

  1. Bring up the idea with your significant other. She's worried that you'll go broke and argues vehemently against the idea. Your parents think youre nuts to even consider throwing away such a "good" job to pursue some "fanciful" dream. Your friends also question your sanity (point of focus).
  2. Conclude that there is too much opposition to your idea. You don't want to upset your wife or burden your parents, so you decide to give up on your lifelong dream (perspective).
  3. This decision causes you to feel miserable (emotional response).
  4. As a result, your job suffers. Because you also resent your wife for making you stay in a job you don't like and for not supporting your dream, your relationship suffers as well (diminished personal effectiveness).

Alternate Ways to Handle This Issue

  • Realize that no matter what you choose, you can always find someone who will disagree with or disapprove of you, just as you can always find someone who will agree and approve. You might as well make choices that feel good to you.
  • Ask yourself if you want to take on the responsibility of pleasing others and making them comfortable with the choices you make, regardless of the expense to your own happiness. Does everyone (or anyone) have to agree with your choice before you can make it?
  • While it can be beneficial to listen to others' viewpoints and concerns, ultimately you know what's best for you, and youre the one who must live with the consequences of your choices. Trust yourself to make the choices that are right for you.
  • Remind yourself of good choices you've made in the past despite what others thought. If you did it before, then why not now?
  • Pay attention to who youre relying on for support and advice. Are their lives happy and successful, or are they just projecting their own fears onto you?
  • Consider how you benefit by worrying about what others think and conforming your actions to their expectations. Are you getting to play it safe? Are you getting to avoid an uncomfortable confrontation? Are you getting to play the role of the good little boy or girl who always follows the rules and never makes waves? Are you getting to be the protector of other people's feelings?

Which do you want more: The semblance of outer harmony that exists when you do what others want or expect you to do? Or the profound satisfaction and fulfillment you experience when you make choices that are in alignment with your deepest desires and purpose?

Above all, if you let other people determine what's best for you, you give up your power. Besides, if the people in your life loved you unconditionally, they would be supportive of your choices, whether or not they agreed with them, and they wouldn't use their fear as a weapon to inflict guilt.

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