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SALT LAKE CITY —In this edition of LIFEadvice Coach Kim explains how we let fear stop us from living and how to break free and stop being a drifter.
My husband is struggling at work and, frankly, everywhere else. He is constantly bothered by things people say and do. He is always afraid his performance isn’t good enough. His self-esteem isn’t good and he is almost always frustrated and offended by something. He seems to have lost himself and in some ways he is giving up. I don’t know if there is anything I can do to help him (or advice you could really give me) but I thought it worth a try. I’d do anything to see him happier.
He has fallen into fear and drifting and doesn’t know how to get himself out. This happens to most of us at some point in our life. You may be in an unhappy marriage, but not doing much to change it or fix it. Instead you might be living around each other, carrying years of resentment and being slightly passive aggressive. You may be in fear at work, doing just enough to get by, but not going anywhere.
You may be just generally unhappy with yourself and life, but can’t see a way to change it. I call this state — stuck in feardrifting. I got that term from Napoleon Hill and his amazing book "Outwitting the Devil."
He says that drifters are the people who dwell in fear and neglect to use their minds to choose their way out. He explains that drifters let other people and situations influence their emotions and they mindlessly react to life with the same old patterns over and over.
He claims that 98 percent of us fall into that category.
“People who think for themselves never drift, while those who do little or no thinking for themselves are drifters. A drifter is one who permits himself to be influenced and controlled by circumstances outside of his own mind… A drifter accepts whatever life throws in his way without making a protest or putting up a fight. He doesn’t know what he wants from life and spends all of his time getting just that.”
“People who think accurately do not drift on any subject. They recognize the power of their own minds. Moreover, they take over that power and yield it to no person or influence” says Hill.
Everyone experiences hard times, failures, embarrassments and mistakes. They are part of the classroom of life, but drifters let those disappointments and failures stop them. They let the fear of failure (the fear of not being good enough) convince them it’s safer to stop trying, stretching and shooting high, that it’s safer to pull back and stay where you are. When you set your sights high you are usually disappointed and you could embarrass yourself.
Take a minute and honestly assess if you are making plans and setting goals to get what you want out of life — or just drifting through?
Napoleon Hill also wrote the famous book, "Think and Grow Rich," one of the bestsellers of all time. In this book he lays out his research on creating success in life. One of the amazing things he discovered interviewing the most successful people of his day was that all of them had experienced great failures and set-backs. Every one without exception had experienced discouraging losses. The difference was their “capacity to surmount failure without being discouraged.” This was “the chief asset of every man who attained outstanding success in any calling.”
These people learned to use their minds to choose how they were going to experience those setbacks. They understood they had control over how those failures affected their value and what losses meant. They learned how to see themselves, other people and situations accurately (without fear of not being good enough in the way). They were people with defined purpose who set goals, believed in themselves and didn’t let any situation or person stop them. They understood the classroom of life gives you problems, but it also provides solutions.
Hill said, “There is a solution for every legitimate problem no matter how difficult the problem may seem.” But the solution won’t just be handed to you. You are going to have to fight, work, learn and stretch to find it. The important point though is that it is there — and you are meant to find it. The universe doesn’t want you to stay stuck and unhappy — ever. It wants you to learn and grow and change your life. Answers and solutions to your problems are available right now!
Here are some suggestions for breaking free from drifting:
- Learn how to escape your fear of failure. This is the number one fear that holds you back in life and it can be beaten by adopting the belief that life is a classroom, not a test, and your value isn’t on the line. Decide to see your value as infinite and absolute, which means failure isn’t even a possibility. You can learn lessons, but you cannot fail — at least you have the option of seeing life this way if you want to.
- Learn how to escape your fear of loss. You can do this by choosing to trust that there is divine order in the Universe and everything happens to serve your process of growth. This means that even losses are there to serve you. Choose to trust the process of life and experience everything as a lesson.
- Make a procedure for processing failures and defeats in a healthy, positive way. Decide to see these experiences as lessons which do not affect your value at all.
- Get control of your thinking and do not allow negative, judgmental, critical, self-deprecating thoughts. Make rules against them. Instead, choose to focus on gratitude, hope, optimism, love and generosity. When you live from this place, more good things happen to you.
- Do your own thinking and have second thoughts about all your automatic reactions and emotions. Learn how to step back and think through a situation clearly. There is a great Clarity Questions Worksheet available on my website to help you learn to do this. Hill said, “The only thing of enduring value to any human being is a working knowledge of his own mind.” You may need to seek some professional help in understanding how your mind works and how to control it. I highly recommend you do this if you have been drifting.
- You need to learn how to be a giver and create more value everywhere you go. Hill said, “Be willing to render useful service equivalent to the value of all the material things you demand of life, and render the service first.” Figure out how you can give more. Give more value in your marriage, your friendships, at work and at home. Be an active giver and the universe will return amazing gifts back to you.
- You need to decide what you want from your life, from your marriage, your work, your friendships, etc. Clearly define exactly what you want each part of your life to look like. If you don’t have this clear picture laid out on paper, you can’t create it. Don’t just ride along and hope you end up somewhere good.
- You need to get more solution focused than problem focused. Hill said, “The time people spend fearing, if reversed, would give them all they want in the material world.” Get a piece of paper and brainstorm 50 possible solutions to your current problem. Don’t stop until you come up with 50. Let yourself get out of the box and even be silly (it aids your creativity).
- Remember you have far greater ability and potential than you realize. Hill said that your only “limitations are those which you have set up or permitted others to establish in your own mind.” Stop letting things you have thought or heard about yourself in the past stop you.
If you are having trouble with how to choose them, you may want to find a coach or counselor to help you. I would also highly recommend reading Napoleon Hills books, "Outwitting the Devil" and "Think and Grow Rich."
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book CHOOSING CLARITY: The Path to Fearlessness. She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.