What Hidden Emotional Anchors are Holding You Back?

hidden anchorsWhen you are happy you are confident. You make choices that give you a better chance at success. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake take over.

Pulling up your emotional anchors and letting the “happy you” sail is hard.

“Some people are afraid of what they might find if they try to analyze themselves too much, but you have to crawl into your wounds to discover where your fears are. Once the bleeding starts, the cleansing can begin.”
- Tori Amos

When you think too hard, too many problems arise. This is when worry and fear take over. Your fears are just trying to protect you from emotional pain. It’s you trying to protect yourself.

It’s a weird dynamic that stunts us from creating great stuff.

My Story

I was afraid of trying to get two of my novels published.

I didn’t want to put the time and effort into contacting agents only to be rejected (sad view, but true). I didn’t understand this at the time, but I do now. My two novels currently sit on my hard drive because I’ve taken my writing in a new direction.

I was too afraid of being rejected to try to make my novels a success.

I’m no longer afraid, but that’s because I’ve taken baby steps to overcome this. I’ve written a blog that is read by tens of thousands of people. I realize that nothing I create will be perfect.

It came down to letting go of my fear in order to allow success to happen.

Your fear is only trying to protect you from the pain, but it is also holding you back from being truly happy.

After studying my own fear, I came up with a system that’s simple and easy to apply in every circumstance.

Overcoming Fear

1. Listen to the self-talk.

2. Know that whatever you feel is okay.

3. Create a plan that you can emotionally invest in.

4. Take small actions.

5. Review your progress.

6. Find the fun.

The only way you will overcome your fear and allow your creativity to flourish is practice. If you want to master your emotional intelligence, you have to have fun with the process. The great writers, musicians, and gardeners all make mistakes, but they still have fun improving on them.

Let’s break down how you can handle your fear and enjoy the process of being creative.

1. Listen to the self-talk.

Your fear starts with how you communicate with yourself. If you feel energized by an idea but before you even begin your thoughts are tearing the concept apart, then you will lose motivation quickly.

You need to sit down with yourself and watch the patterns that arise. Are you worried that people will laugh at your effort? Are you afraid that you will fail?

By sitting down with your thoughts and noticing what occurs, you will have a better grasp on what is stirring your fear.

2. Know that whatever you feel is okay.

Your feelings have a right to be there. They are, after all, trying to protect you. You have to be compassionate with how you feel because you can’t change these feelings.

To overcome your fear, you have to accept your feelings and find a way to move in a more positive direction.

I’ve struggled with the idea of allowing my emotions to be as they are without trying to force myself to feel happier. Recently, I made the mistake of trying to force new feelings when I was rejected for a key note address because they wanted to take the concept in a new direction.

I thought I was going to land the job, so I felt sick to my stomach when I found out that the job was going to someone else. I went for walks and practiced Yoga like a mad man, trying to change my feelings. I was trying to change how I felt instead of acknowledging my state of being. It wasn’t until I was able to accept this disappointment that I could move on.

3. Create a plan you can emotionally invest in.

You can wallow in sadness, or you can create a plan of action that will focus your energy. You have to create a plan that will pull your emotions toward action. If you can’t get excited about the next plan then you will stay stuck.

I constantly made the mistake of trying practically the same plan over and over again without making any changes. You need to create a new plan that will give you a better chance at success. This new plan should bring that internal motivation back up and leave you feeling energized for a renewed effort.

Your new plan has to be more important than the lingering pain of the last failure or you won’t take action.

4. Take small actions.

You have to take small actions that help you build confidence. If you’ve created a plan that you can emotionally invest in, now it’s time to break down the goal to quell your fear.

It’s important to take actions on small goals because it makes it feel easier to achieve success. If you look at the project as a whole, it’s going to feel overwhelming. These small achievements will build confidence. When you believe you can accomplish a tough goal, you will have a better chance at success.

Once you are chipping away at the project, you will gain momentum. A setback can easily slow that momentum down, so you need to make sure you take the time to assess and enjoy your accomplishments.

5. Review your progress.

After completing small tasks, you should review your progress. Your motivation will dwindle if you don’t. So take the time to appreciate what you’ve accomplished and think about how you can be even more productive.

Fear is a tricky emotion. You may see the negative in what you’ve accomplished, which will bring down your mood and motivation. Remember #2 (Know that whatever you feel is okay). Acknowledge these feelings, but at the same time keep looking for the positive in what you’ve done.

I’ve been working on an eShort (short ebook) for this site. I want to give more in-depth information about the emotional development that you can achieve at work. After I would finish a chapter, I usually would look back over it and internally beat myself up (Don’t do this to yourself). I’ve learned to stop this negative behavior (on most days).

Once these feelings pass, I settle myself and ask ‘What needs to be fixed?’ I’ll then start taking baby steps (#4 Take small actions) to keep the process moving forward.

6. Find the Fun.

The last part is making the work as much fun as you can. If you aren’t having fun dealing with your fear and overcoming it, then you are losing out on some amazing self teaching moments.

You need to discover a way to find the fun.

I used to hate editing. I would rather create something new all the time. The problem with not enjoying the editing process is that my writing sounds like a 9th grader wrote the piece.

Now when I edit, I imagine myself as one of my favorite writers (Bukowski, Trunk, or Hemmingway), put on some music (Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven), practice 60 seconds of deep breathing, put out a little thanks into the universe for giving me the skills to reach wonderful people such as yourself and then I get started.

This set-up releases the hidden anger and impatience and allows me to enjoy the editing process.

Putting it All Together

Your fear is the heaviest detriment to your creativity. An anchor on your imaginative thoughts.

When you allow your fear hold you back, you are letting your emotions dictate your confidence.

You need to appreciate your fears, recognize their need to help you, and then let them go. This will allow you to do the great work that will bring you so much joy. You’ll then find that the next try and the next try after that will fill you with so much passion that you can’t be stopped.

What do you do to let go of your fear so you can create great results?

Need a boost to your work happiness? Then check out Happy at Work Project and start one yourself.


Stephen Mills of Rat Race Trap wrote a wonderful post called Optimizing Your Working Memory – Part II. I thought it was superior to Part I.

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Image courtesy of david.nikonvscanon