How to Transform Your Mindset from Fear to Freedom

By: Olenka Cullinan, CEO and Founder, iStartFirst

Let’s face it, we all woke up in a world where our lives and businesses were uprooted overnight. Most of us were not prepared to go into a virtual existence for months, to start homeschooling, to lose the social connections, or employment. None of it was predictable, and this new reality stirred a whole slew of emotions – sadness, anger, loss, frustration, disbelief and the biggest one of all – fear.

Fear is a basic, primitive, human emotion which arises from the threat of physical or psychological harm – whether it’s real or imagined. Traditionally, it’s considered to be a negative emotion. But what if everything we knew about fear is wrong?

Consider this – fear is not a “bad” emotion – it’s designed to alert you of dangerous situations. It’s an alarm mechanism that reminds you to make a move at the first sign of danger.  Why do we freeze when we are scared?  You only stop when the fear is conjured from certain beliefs. That’s when you get stuck.

Think of two distinctly different scenarios: if you see a dog charging at you, you might freeze for a few seconds, but then you will move – likely run or jump to the side. But if you have fear about making a sales call, you will often sit in this paralyzed state for hours, days, and weeks, avoiding it all together.  Consider the possibility that fear is a response actually alerting you to take action!

These uncertain times can trigger fear on a daily, or sometimes hourly, basis:  watching the local news, feeling bombarded on social media, or perhaps dealing with challenges in your work or school situation.  All of these situations can create fear, alerting you to pay attention, and urging you to take action.  Importantly, one of the most powerful qualities of fear: it’s contagious. I’m sure you have noticed that on some days you wake up in a great mood, and then you open up your phone, and before you know it you just bought into everyone else’s worries and concerns. That is the reality of today’s situation.

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is declining in some areas of the world, while expanding in others, these fears are causing a divide among us. No one is exactly sure what the right or wrong ways to behave are, but as humans we do one thing well – we know how to judge.  I see people projecting their emotions and their fears on others. It’s causing breaks in relationships, disconnects in companies, and havoc in our societies. And all of us seem to be waiting for “normal” to come back. But better question is: how can we transform to a “new normal” as the “old normal” may never come back.

Our transformation starts and ends with our mindset. The mind carries the limitations, the beliefs, and the realities of our lives. There’s no other way around it.

So, while the world may be in financial and psychological darkness, your responsibility lies in changing the way you are reacting and processing these circumstances. We are all dealing with our own version of “scary” right now, but some people are choosing to be the light, while others are choosing to hide behind the darkness.

You can choose to transform today. And while transformation may not be easy, as it requires work, it can create a level of growth that elevates your lifestyle. You see, the most successful people take action when others are scared to. Times of change are times for opportunity.  Consistency in practicing new responses can move you forward through challenges of life. You need to get consistent on your positive habits.

When clients tell me that they want to reach a certain goal, I ask them to show me their rituals. These are non-negotiable routines that you implement in your day whether the world stops or moves. In my case, it’s journaling, visualization and mediation every morning, then reading and mediation every night. What positive rituals keep you moving forward in these circumstances? If you don’t have any, start with one.

Taking charge of your thoughts is the next important step to controlling your reality. Most of your thoughts are rooted in your beliefs, as your beliefs are just thoughts that have been repeated by you over and over.  Bringing awareness to your thinking is where you can change your whole outlook on life. Only your thoughts, or buying into someone else’s, is what stops you. In this uncertain world, it is your responsibility to start turning your thoughts into statements of growth and hope. You may stumble at first, and you will certainly catch yourself reverting to the negatives, but it’s ok – just keep practicing and re-stating every negative thought into positive one – out loud.  I use this “game of opposites” exercise with my clients for 30 days, and the results they notice are remarkable.

This world might be in limbo for awhile still, but you get to decide if you are going to free yourself from fear dictated by external circumstances. It’s going to require you to be brave and to take bold actions. Your thoughts don’t have power. You have power. And I promise you already have what it takes inside of you to transform that fear into freedom.

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