We all have different fears that hold us back from achieving some of our biggest goals. Fear is the reason why some of your big ideas are still a distant reality or on your to-do list. Fear always gnaws at the beginning of nearly every endeavour and has an inhibiting impact on our performance and it can block you from some of your significant accomplishments and limit your experiences.
Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, whether the threat is real or imagined. It is a normal brain function and guides you in physically dangerous situations. Fear is healthy as long as it serves us as a survival mechanism, but it is unhealthy, in the psyche, where it disguises itself as self-doubt, reluctance, insecurity, lack of confidence and inhibits you from being your best version.
Most of our fear is non-physical that only exists in our head as a result of self-perceived dangers. Such fear is often a reaction to an irrational thought process which compels you to stay within the realms of your comfort zone. For instance, fear of failure, fear of uncertainty, fear of external judgment, fear of rejection. Such fears are mostly because of a distorted way of understanding of self and the world around us.
How fear limits your true potential
The fears that give us the most trouble in daily life are more often psychological than physical. We often don’t realise that we are facing fear when it appears as nervousness, hesitation, procrastination, reluctance, lack of interest or self-doubt. This is because we don’t recognise the subtle nature of fear when it appears as a vague sense of discomfort or doubt. Such fears not only rob you of your true potential, but also limit your ability to create positive changes in life. Here are some areas where fear limits your life.
- Personal growth. Being driven by fear blocks all of your personal growth. Fear is a psychological discomfort that is designed to get your attention. To be mired in fear means to be held back from rising to the higher levels of courage. Similarly, it blocks you from reaching higher levels of consciousness like joy, peace and enlightenment.
- Emotional and mental health. Fear drains you of your physical, emotional and mental energies. You cannot think rationally and identify solutions when you waste your time into something non-constructive. As a result, you may become too anxious to express yourself. Not feel comfortable to stand up for yourself or communicate new ideas or suggestions.
- Performance. Fear is not always based on physical danger but it is based more on danger made up in your mind like fearing from the thought of slipping up, ridicule, and embarrassment. As a result, you may procrastinate and may not ever fully commit to an effort. You may avoid trying anything new because you don’t want to feel incompetent or foolish.
- Positivity. Every moment you spend in fear, you are cultivating similar thoughts and less of positive thoughts and feelings. The more you do it, the more you set back by it. When you focus too much on fear, it stops you from seeing anything good, even if it means opportunities. You end up wasting all your positivity within you and allow anxiety to run your life.
- Decision-making. Fear often is paralysing and keeps you rooted in your comfort zones. You cannot make decisions pertaining to planning, decisions that involve some form of risk or decisions that change your life. It limits your ability to make right choices when faced with different options.
How to overcome fears that limit your true potential
Fact is, however irrational your fear sometimes can be, you can never really run away or avoid as it is pervasive. As long as you run away instead of dealing with it, it will always be there haunting you in everything you do. Running away only gives you an illusion of safety, but only for short moment. The only way is to face your fears and overcome them is by taking appropriate action steps. Here are some fears that limit your potential and ways to overcome them.
Fear of rejection.
An obstacle that prevents many of us from improving and going after the life we want is fear of rejection. Be it whether it’s your dream job, pursuing your passions or personal or professional relationship, unresolved fear of rejection often leads to greater limitations. Fearing that you will be rejected if you show your true self, you may live life behind a mask, become unwilling to embrace challenges, and you might make excuses or even assist others with behaviours you know are wrong.
It never feels good when something doesn’t happen the way we want it to, but not all of life’s experiences turn out the way we hope or expect. But it is equally true that we are only limited by the stories we tell ourselves repeatedly. If you continue to tell yourself that you are limited in one way or the other, you cannot try doing many things you need to do to improve your present self.
In order to overcome this fear, view it as a meaningful experience and look for an opportunity to learn and grow from it. Remind yourself that rejection is just a normal part of life and is a chance to improve and try for opportunities that are even better fits than one that did not work out in the past.
Positive self-talk boosts your confidence and self-worth to empower yourself. Acknowledge your emotions around rejection and keep things in perspective by giving yourself some actionable backup plans to manage the fear more productively.
When we give into fear of failure, we undermine our own efforts to succeed. This can stop us doing the things that can move us forward to achieve our goals. We experience fear of failure because we fear the unknown like the reluctance to try new things or get involved in challenging projects. It is the perceived negative consequences like shame or fear of embarrassment that can lead to lowered self-esteem and pessimism.
It is always important to understand that none of the things go exactly as planned. There are bound to be obstacles, hardships of setbacks along the way of realising your best self. Even if you have a plan, there are always going to be some things outside of your control.
But avoiding or focusing on your emotions only provide short-term relief. Instead be problem-focused and addressing the issues head on allow you to work out things for long term. Accepting this perspective can help you overcome fear of failure.
Instead of self deprecating or comparing, question your fears as to how rational are they and how much likely are they to come true? look at all of the potential outcomes of your decisions and some of your worst-case scenarios to come up with an action plan. Focus on what you can control and develop growth mindset. Instead of negatively associating yourself with failure, view it as a learning experience to overcome the fear of it.
Fear of external judgment.
Irrational fears are indirect and often are subjective. For instance, there is no harm if you fail an exam or forget a speech. The thing is that you afraid not of failure, but what it represents, like fear of judgment, mediocrity or worthlessness. Being negatively judged by your peers, colleagues or people around you often makes you vulnerable and paranoid about being judged again in the future.
Living your life in accordance with what others say or think only sabotages your relationships, goals and your professional advancement. It’s a fact that we are all negatively affected by something that someone else says or does. But the opinion of others has no power unless you yield it. Believe in your unique goal and build confidence to achieve it instead of focusing on your negative self that talks you down telling you that people are going to judge you.
It is your beliefs that are more powerful than any negativity you come across in the form of external judgment. Know your strengths and limitations. Prioritise your personal needs and prevent anyone else from taking control of the way you feel about yourself. Understand that people are entitled to their opinions.
Another fear that stops many of our goals in their tracks is fearing a hardship or fearing uncertain future —“What if something bad happens?” Getting out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to uncertainty can be quite overwhelming and confusing. Uncertainty is bound to create friction, tension and resistance and we all experience it more than ever.
Fear of uncertainty can leave you feeling stressed and can trap you in a downward spiral of endless “what-ifs” and worst-case scenarios. While we may not wish to acknowledge it, uncertainty is a natural and unavoidable part of life. Worrying often seem like you have some control over uncertain circumstances, but instead you can focus on controlling things that are under your control.
To deal with uncertainty or unknown is not to jump into conclusions, but have a definitive plan of action for things you can control. A plan to mitigate your risks and to reduce the uncertainty of the outcomes. Have the willingness to embrace the unknown and discomfort or hardship it might bring.
Challenge your need for certainty. Uncertainty can also help you learn to adapt, overcome challenges and increase your resilience. Seeing uncertain circumstances as a path to grow will help you transform your perspective on fear of it.
Fear of taking the first step.
Many of us struggle with fear of starting and to figure out what is the first step? Where do I even start? It’s mostly in that first step where most people are apprehensive and as a result, they postpone those challenges that really matter to them. You will probably end up spending more time imagining the possible risks than getting enough courage to go after what you truly want if you fear to take the first step.
Acknowledge your fears and be specific of what you are so afraid of in order to begin with the process. Know what is it that you are protecting yourself from — is it the fear of not knowing, not being perfect, failing to commit or fear of challenges.
Name what you fear and do it regardless. Remind yourself of the consequences of not taking the action and acknowledge the fact that by postponing and avoiding, your fears won’t go away. Set attainable goals and think about processes to put in place. Small goals will give you a good indication to actually begin rather than intimidating yourself in being perfect.
How do you deal with your fears every day?
Do you ever describe yourself as insecure, shy or suffering from self-doubt?
Are you a risk taker – How often do you try to get out of your comfort zone?
What are your worst fears? failure? rejection? inadequacy? embarrassment?
Which areas of your life you can improve by overcoming your fears?
As you overcome fears, in what specific ways might your life change?
Fear is the main obstacle in pursuing your best self and arises only for things you care for. Have you ever experienced fear for something you were indifferent or not cared for to? So, it is always important to focus on positive emotions to bolster your fortitude and strength in face of fear to persist and pursue what you want.
Choosing to bring courage in face of fear isn’t an easy task. But you can always pull yourself out of your comfort zone and enter a zone of courage by developing a willingness to work through risk, fear and uncertainty. You will have everything you need to be the bravest you once you realise your true potential by overcoming the fears you face.