Let me tell you a secret. I used to be so scared of public speaking, that I turned down numerous opportunities to promote myself and my business and share my knowledge. In fact, my fear was so bad, that I was crippled with the belief that I would be sick whilst on stage and had to have a bucket in sight when I was talking, just in case.
Luckily, through facing my fear and learning how to speak, I’ve overcome that and it’s no longer holding me back.
However, it got me thinking. How often have you allowed your fear to stop you from doing something that you wanted to do?
It is possible, to get over your fears by facing them head-on. Each one can be broken down into steps and solved one bite-sized piece at a time. Outlined below are the most common fears that people have and what can be done to overcome them.
Fear of Failure
Failure is one of the most common fears that hold people back. There is a sense of shame in failing, that often stops people from trying in the first place. No matter how well you plan your life, there are just some things outside of your control.
Take time to focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. Stop putting pressure on yourself but set yourself small steps to achieving your bigger goal. Celebrate each small win to build up a positive sense of momentum and accept that life is about taking risks.
You can’t drive with your brakes on, and the same goes for living your life – if you play full-out you have no reason to doubt yourself or fear not succeeding.
Fear of Something Bad Happening
Too many of us spend too much time worrying about ‘what ifs’ and miss the joy of living our lives. We become consumed with worse case scenarios and live in a perpetual state of anxiety. That is not to minimise tragedies in our lives but for us not to assume that disaster could strike at any time.
We cannot control everything that happens, but when facing difficult circumstances remember that restoration will eventually come. The anxiety that comes from worry doesn’t bring success into your life any faster, it just robs you of happiness.
Fear of Loss
Fear of loss is most likely one of the most prominent and powerful fears that is holding you back. In marketing, we can distil our messages to the two most powerful things that affect our audiences – the benefit of gain or the fear of loss, with loss trumping gain every time. The biggest fear of loss often stimulates negative emotions like anger that stop you from being the person you can be.
Cast your mind back to the last time you were angry and what fear was driving it. What were you afraid would be taken from you? We have to see that most angry people are really just scared. To get past this, you have to confront the fear of losing things so that you can truly appreciate everything that you love. Leave your attachment behind, live with the joy of what you have and stay in the present.
Fear of Being Judged
Fear of judgement from those around us can be paralysing. It keeps people from living their best life and away from everything that they could achieve.
Feeling vulnerable, or available for attack from others, is the main reason people clam up in the first place. Surround yourself with people who support you and lift you up and recognise that you can’t please everyone. You are going to be judged regardless, so you might as well live your life, just the way you want.
Fear of Losing Our Identity
Our identity is often one of our most prized possessions – often subconsciously. We create a picture of ourselves – who we are, what we want and what people like us do. Too often this picture is fixed, which can leave us stuck in a rut.
Having an identity can often be like a comfort blanket, useful for a time, but not a long-term life strategy. By having a fixed opinion of yourself, you can shut down every single opportunity for change. If you are disappointed or uncomfortable with where you are now, it’s likely that there is a part of your identity that you are hanging onto, that isn’t serving your needs anymore.
Fear of Losing Control
Losing control is a fear that can stop us from achieving our potential. For a lot of us, stepping outside of our comfort zones is a challenging process and we sacrifice growth for stability and control.
Letting go of being in control is the only way to move forward and live a happy and fulfilled life. To make progress, we have to stretch ourselves, if you want to run a marathon, you don’t stop the minute your feet hurt or you run out of breath! You just keep building up your training so you can push yourself to go further and further to meet your goal.
To get over this fear, you need to accept that no-one ever had total control. Our plans are at the mercy of external factors that we can’t oversee – government legislation, economic challenges or even the weather. Once you take this onboard, it’s easier to overcome the fear of losing some control when you need to.
Fear of Time
For some, this is the fear of time running out before they’ve achieved everything they want to do. A combination not having enough hours in the day or the speed of life passing them by can create high levels of anxiety.
A by-product of this is that they rush through life, never taking the time to enjoy being present in the moment. To get over this, you need to understand what spending your time well looks like for you and block out time to undertake these activities. Likewise, identify what time badly spent looks like and consider how you can minimise these activities in your day.
Fear of Being Discredited
I’ve previously written about the subject of imposter syndrome, where people don’t feel worthy of their success. It’s estimated that 70 percent of the population will experience this at some point.
The most important thing to remember is that we are all the same – we all have things we are great at and things that we aren’t. The important thing is to be self-aware – know your strengths and weaknesses and own them. You can’t be all things to all people so don’t try.
Fear of Change
For most of us our biggest fear is not the fear of the unknown, but the loss of the known.
Fear of change is common, particularly in a world where everything is changing. Your primitive mind sees a threat, whereas your higher mind sees it as an opportunity to grow, learn and develop.
Whichever mind you focus on is likely to guide your actions – so feed the higher mind as much as possible.
Fear of The Next Step
If we unwrap this fully, the fear is of dying and whatever comes after it. We have to accept our own mortality and stare it in the face to make this fear diminish.
Facing this fear, forces us to take responsibility for our actions. We have a greater impetus to treat ourselves and our planet with respect and live every moment of our life as the precious gift it is.
Life is too short to fear anything other than a life unlived.
Being an Overcomer
Every fear can be solved, but it requires work and commitment. Fear is part of life and all fears have a source that can be discovered and overcome, one step at a time.