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How to Overcome The Mental Blocks That Keep You From Taking Action

Man experiencing mental blocks while deep in thought.

Through my work as a coach, I’ve encountered numerous individuals who aspire to achieve remarkable feats but often are hindered by mental blocks. These barriers, often rooted in fear and limiting beliefs, prevent them from realizing their full potential.

All kinds of fears and beliefs like this can prevent people of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures from doing what they are passionate about. And today, I want to address the subject of fear, as this is the number one mental block that keeps many people from achieving their dreams.

Before we look at fear, I want to say upfront that overcoming fear does not mean being absent of fear. Being fearless is not the absence of fear; instead, it’s having moved through fear, or past fear, based on the assumption that the result of taking action outweighs the uneasiness involved. So, being fearless does not mean that you live without fear. Instead, it means you can live with your fears – to look at them, get to know them, and then befriend them on your journey towards accomplishing your goals.

Being afraid of something is human and, in many situations, a necessary and life-saving reflex. In the evolution of humankind, fear has helped our species stay alive and evolve into the intelligent and advanced societies and cultures we live in today. Unfortunately, although we no longer need all of those “fight or flight” reflexes, fear is still a part of who we are.

Fear has evolved with us, provoking psychological, emotional, and even physical reactions separate from our surroundings. That is where the problem lies. We can be lying in bed or on the couch – protected, warm, having nothing to fear – yet we are afraid and anxious in our heads. As a consequence, our bodies experience the stress reactions caused by fear. And, in turn, that causes mental blocks that keep us from taking action.

Fit man overcoming mental blocks, confidently exercising atop a nyc building.
Overcoming mental blocks.

I invite you to try the following exercise to recognize these fears for what they are and learn how to overcome your mental blocks. Whenever fear is holding you back, I want you to…

  1. Review your fears and mental blocks.
    A powerful question that has helped me and many clients is: What’s the worst that can happen? Whenever you experience fear, ask yourself this question and write down everything you can think of. When your list is ready, review the items and try to identify the worst outcome. Now compare that worst outcome with the life you’ll have if you don’t pursue your passion, goals, or dreams.

  2. Embrace your fears and mental blocks.
    After you realize that your worst outcome is probably still much better than the unhappiness and unfulfilled life that might lie ahead of you if you don’t follow your passions, it is essential to accept the fact that answering your calling will be scary sometimes, both now and in the future. But that is perfectly OK and something we all experience. This is why befriending and accepting your fears is powerful, especially when undertaking new and exciting things.

  3. Transform your fears and mental blocks.
    A great way to live with your fears and make them work for you is to channel them into something empowering. Transform your negative, limiting beliefs into positive mantras that you repeat to yourself daily, and your fears will change in your favor. This might be something as simple as starting to say “I can” instead of “I can’t” or “Yes, why not?” instead of “No, not me.”

  4. Avoid letting fear and mental blocks shut you down.
    Whatever you do when you experience fear, I want you to take action and do whatever it takes to avoid shutting down. The simplest way to accomplish this and get going again when fear hits you is to sit with your fears and “do it anyway.” There’s no really easy way to do this except through practice. Yet, by using fear as a trigger for this practice, you’ll diffuse it from the start and get easier.

  5. Don’t let fear and mental blocks guide you.
    I’ll be the first to admit that fear is very powerful. If left alone and free to play games with your mind, fear will eventually lead you away from your dreams and desires, cloud your judgment, and drag you down. The first step to avoid this happening is recognizing your fears and knowing when they try to lead you. Awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions will help you stand against fear and not let it guide you.

  6. Prevent fear and mental blocks from deciding for you.
    Fear is not only powerful, but it’s also very deceiving. If a fear stays with you for too long and you don’t challenge it enough, it will become part of your belief system. When that happens, fear starts to dictate your decisions and even give direction to your life, career, and business. Prevent fears from becoming familiar by habitually questioning your belief system and turning inward. Doing this is essential to knowing what makes you happy and to giving your life the direction you want.

By befriending fear and accepting it as a part of my life, I became happier, more fulfilled, and more productive. And so can you by befriending fear and overcoming the mental blocks that stop you from taking action. If you’re looking for more insights on this topic, I recommend reading my article Do the things that scare you, which delves deeper into confronting and embracing your fears and mental blocks.

#mentalblocks #lifecoaching #overcomingfear #personalgrowth #limitingbeliefs #selfimprovement #actionablestrategies #fearlessness #emotionalbarriers #personaldevelopment

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Picture of Dr. Sydney Ceruto

Dr. Sydney Ceruto

A Pioneer in Neuroscience-Based Coaching

As the founder of MindLAB Neuroscience, Dr. Sydney Ceruto has been a leading force in integrating neuroscience into coaching and counseling for over two decades. With three master's degrees in psychology and two PhDs in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, she is widely considered a top expert in her field.

Harnessing the power of neuroscience-based coaching, Dr. Ceruto's innovative approach focuses on neuroscience, neuroplasticity, and neural pathway rewiring to foster lasting positive change in mental health.

Dr. Ceruto holds esteemed memberships in the Forbes Executive Council, Positive Performance Alliance, Wharton Executive Education Program, the International Society of Female Professionals, and executive writing positions for Alternatives Watch, Brainz Magazine, and TED: Ideas Worth Spreading.

Dr. Ceruto's accomplishments include:

  • The 2022 CREA Award.
  • A lead research position at NYU Steinhardt.
  • Volunteer work with Covenant House and the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI).

Her science-backed method of Neural Rewiring has successfully guided thousands of clients toward happier, more productive, and more resilient lives.