No matter who you are fear is playing a part in your life. We all have fear but we have different ways of dealing with it. Fear can become an anchor; holding us back from truly enjoying our lives or fear can become a guide post; pointing us toward our greatest potential. What is your relationship with fear? Is your fear holding you back? Todays post will give you some ideas of how to overcome it.
I see people every day who just aren’t getting the results they want in life. They simply aren’t achieving the goals that matter to them and they feel helpless and stuck as a result. These people have all the right skills, abilities, energy, ideas and connections but they just don’t get where they want to go. Something is holding them back, and that something is called fear.
Fear can be sneaky and is often found hiding within our excuses. You hear them all the time and you may even say them: “I am too busy, I don’t feel like it, now isn’t the right time to start and I am not smart enough” are some of the more ones and they are all expressions of fear, This is the same fear that is holding you back in your relationships, in your career, your finances and your health.
Unfortunately I know people who seem to be afraid of almost everything.
A close relative of mine was afraid of so many things it makes me sad to think about it. He was afraid of needles, doctors, snakes, bats, flying, dark places, heights and driving in traffic. Over the years the accumulation of his fears caused him to become a very angry person and negatively impacted the quality of his life and the quality of his family’s live’s as well.
There were many, many things they couldn’t do or places they couldn’t go because of fear.
I meet people every day who are suffering, literally suffering in their lives because of their fears. These people stay in jobs and relationships that are literally killing them. They are often lonely, bored, depressed, stressed out and feeling trapped. These sad people can go to extreme lengths to get away from their situations. They escape into television, alcohol, drugs and occasionally even suicide.
Granted a certain amount of fear is sensible and helpful. Fear can prevent us from doing stupid things like jumping off of high places, walking through dark alleys in bad neighborhoods and making business deals with shifty people. Personally I like to think of my fear as a flashing amber light. My fears tell me there is something I need to pay attention to and that I should proceed with caution. For me fear is most definitely not a signal to stop what I am doing, they are signals to proceed with caution.
As a species mankind has adapted to thrive through very dangerous times and fear is (or was) a very important survival mechanism. The world of our ancestors was full of danger and they were constantly under threat to life and limb. At that time living in fear was a great thing; it meant they could live longer and have a better chance to reproduce. However in our modern world we are exposed to relatively few direct threats to our physical well-being and many threats to our egos. The problem is that our primitive brains simply can’t tell the difference between threats to our egos and threats to our physical wellbeing.
To live a succesful life in which we fully express our capabilities we simply must learn to have a healthy relationship with fear and to respond differently to threats to our egos than we do to threats to our health and well-being.
Learning to respond appropriately to fear starts with knowing which of our most common fears are no longer of use to us. Below are the some of the more common fears that, as far as I am concerned, are pointless and of no further use to us.
1.) Fear of rejection
Many people go through life with a fear of rejection. They are overly concerned with the opinions of others and as a result these people live their lives in fear of rejection. They are afraid of being rejected so they don’t ask for a date. They are afraid of being turned down so they don’t ask for a raise, They don’t talk to people because they are afraid people won’t like them. They won’t publish a book because they are afraid people won’t like it.
The truth of the matter is that trying to live up to the expectations of other people is a no win scenario and the people who turn you down in life reject you for their reasons, not yours. If you want to do anything of meaning at all in life you have to get over your fear of rejection.
Don’t get me wrong I know that rejection does not feel good but overcoming rejection is basically a numbers game. to overcome your fear of rejection you have to get used to being rejected.
Everyone of note has gone through rejection. politicians, actors and business people all routinely experience rejection but the great thing is rejection is not fatal. You need to have faith that there are people out there who will not reject you, that there are people will accept you as the person you are and support you in the attainment of your goals.
Check out THIS inspirational Ted talk on rejection for a funny look at how to cope with it.
2.) Fear of failure
Fear of failure is another big one. So many people are afraid of failing that they won’t try something unless they are absolutely assured of success. But given that there is never any true promise of success they never start on the things that can really make a difference in their lives.
Once again every succesful person has failed at some point in their lives. Failure is almost a prerequisite to success. Each and every failure we experience in life is a learning opportunity and it is only through learning that we get better and improve.
Failure is not usually fatal and the success you desire is on the other side of it.
3.) Fear of uncertainty
This common fear stops a lot of people dead in their tracks. I know people who won’t accept promotions at work because they are afraid of the uncertainty that comes along with a new job. They won’t go on a vacation because they are unsure if they will like it. These people are afraid to make choices because they are afraid of trying something different. I even know one fellow who actually gets stressed out in restaurants because he is afraid of ordering a meal that he won’t like.
As the old saying goes “in life nothing is certain but death and taxes”.
There is no certainty in life, there are no promises in our relationships, our health, our finances, our jobs, our political systems or even in our climate.
We can only be sure of our own personal will, grit, work ethic and determination to preserver despite any obstacles that stand in our way.
To progress in life we need to become comfortable with the lack of certainty. All we can do is put forth our best effort and then let fate handle it from there. We don’t often control the outcomes of our actions, we can only control our actions.
The upside of uncertainty is that we should use it to appreciate the present moment, to be thankful for the positive people and things we have in our lives right now. Everything that we take for granted today can be gone tomorrow to it is critical to take the time to appreciate the good things in life each and every day.
4.) Fear of loneliness
Sometimes people stay in bad relationships for decades because they are afraid of living alone. This is truly tragic because these people often wind up hating their spouse as well as themselves. Choosing to live alone is a hard choice but think of the alternative.
To be truly happy and succesful we need to learn to become comfortable with our own company and not to be dependent upon others for our feelings of happiness or success. Successful and creative people actually schedule time alone where they can learn, reflect and grow as people each and every day.
Unless you are comfortable with who you are everything else is just a distraction. All the television, games, relationships and activities are just be a diversion from the real issues and challenges that we all seem to face.
Becoming comfortable with yourself is a prerequisite to becoming comfortable with the rest of the world.
Here is a little secret – the more comfortable you become with who you are the more attractive you are to the rest of the world. Other people naturally gravitate toward confident, comfortable people who are at ease with themselves.
You can choose to categorise fears in far different ways that I have but the fact of the matter is this; fear is real and it negatively impacts people’s lives. But in my pursuit of success on the far side of fifty I have learned that all the things I desire in my life are on the far side of fear.
Fear is like the darkness and we are like a light. When we step back the shadow of fear moves closer; when we step forward the shadow of fear moves back. Fear alone cannot harm us. The way to beat fear is to move toward it.
As a child I was taught to be afraid, I was taught fear by my parents, my family, my teachers and the other adults in my life. As a younger man much of what I did was driven by fear. I was afraid of being alone so I hung out with people I didn’t really care for. I wasn’t confident in my abilities so I stayed in jobs that didn’t fulfill me. Fortunately I was gifted with a growth mind-set and over time I learned to overcome my fears. I intentionally did things and took on roles that simply didn’t allow me to be afraid. I worked in one facility in a fairly poor area where (as part of my job) I often became involved in verbal and even physical altercations.That helped me get over my fear of confrontation. I was afraid of public speaking – so I went and did it.
In fact with each blog post I learn to overcome a little more fear. Try putting your words out for the world to see and react to and let me know if you find it just a little bit intimidating.
Never the less over the years I have learned many valuable lessons and the one I am about to share is one of the more impactful lessons I have ever learned.
Nothing in life is neutral. Every action we take, every decision we make and every thought we think either takes us forward into growth or backward into stagnation.
There is no growth in our comfort zone; only stagnation. We only can only grow by getting uncomfortable.
It is necessary to approach fear in this very same way, stepping back from fear allows fear to grow, stepping forward into fear pushes the fear back and leads to growth. Stepping back from one fear allows all fears to grow, stepping forward towards one fear helps conquer all fears.
As you go through your days I invite you to consider your approach to fear. When faced with fear are you moving forward into growth or backward into stagnation.? Remember my friends nothing is neutral.
By the way this isn’t the first time I have written about fear, if you want to check out my previous post on the subject please check it out HERE
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment or let me know if I can help you in any way at all.
Have a fantastic week.