“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” ‒ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fear is one of the most destructive and limiting emotions that we can experience. It stops us from moving forward, makes us think we are incapable of achieving our dreams, and at times can ensure we live a small life, rather than getting to experience all of the amazing opportunities and adventures available to us.
Whether it’s from limiting beliefs, a negative experience, or an aspect of our upbringing, fear is something that is as individual as we are. We are complicated beings and it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to fear.
Oftentimes we can tell the area of our life that we are being held back simply by looking at our results.
What are you struggling with most? Where could you improve ‒ finance, career, relationships, daily routine/habits? The areas we need to work on are often quite apparent.
There are many different types of fear but the most important thing to know is that it can be transformed.
Whilst it might not be an instant fix, with small little steps, you can change your mindset and habits which will release you from the control that fear has on you.
Some of the common areas of fare are as follows:
Fear of the unknown
When we are faced with a situation or circumstance that is completely foreign to us, it can be a natural reaction to be concerned or have fear. It has happened to most of us during our life.
There was a time in 2019 when during a course, I was expected to produce and present a global online summit. Every single aspect of that task was foreign to me and I completely freaked out. I’d never done anything like this before ‒ in fact, never heard of most things I had to do. My initial instinct was to say no, I’m not doing it. I forced myself to proceed and even though I was nervous and overwhelmed most of the time, I was able to produce something professional, that ran smoothly, and I feel offered great benefit to my viewers. How did I move past fear?
I broke the mammoth task down into tiny little steps. There were lots of them but I tried to focus only on the tasks that were next on the list
Researching as much as I could helped a lot. Thankfully there are many free resources available to us ‒ and let’s be honest, Youtube taught me so much about building my very first landing page, how to edit my interview videos, and all of the things I’d never done before.
Every single little thing was out of my comfort zone. I’d never interviewed anyone, built a landing page, or hosted an online summit before. The fear was palpable. However, the result was an Online Summit that I am so proud of ‒ and will be doing again and again now that I’ve conquered that fear.
Fear of Failure
This is a big one for most of us. We’ve all had moments of holding back just because we might fail. Most of us have experienced the feeling of failure ‒ and if you’re like me ‒ it’s been done in a public forum. This fear can stop you dead in your tracks.
What if I fail?
These days my reply is…so what?
Key things to remember are these:
There is no such thing as failing. Every single experience is a lesson. We learn what works and what doesn't. Then when we try again we can apply that knowledge and hopefully get a better result. I’m trying new things all the time. Something they work, often not. But in every situation, there is a learning experience. Perhaps certain areas of it were successful and I will use those next time. The only way to succeed is to fail.
If fear of failure is holding you back, I suggest finding small things to try first and then building up to the big things. At first, I kept my new ventures to myself. Now they are live events and even if I do mess up, it’s all good. I’m completely OK with it ‒ and to be honest, I think it makes us more relatable. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes.
Fear of Change
About 12 years ago I joined a Buddhist group. One of the first lessons my Buddhist nun taught was that everything changes. Every single little thing. Nothing ever stays the same. Even the desk you are sitting at right now is changing on a minute level. That was a very quick, easy, and beneficial lesson for me that's kept front of mind in my life.
Change is constant and unless we learn to become comfortable with it and learn to adapt, life is going to get pretty tricky. In the last couple of years, we have had the most intense change of our lives. Every single day there has been something new. It can be very overwhelming and stressful.
The issue with worrying about change is that it causes overwhelm and stress which in turn knocks your immune system. We now have a planet that is full of a large percentage of people who are scared and stressed with fragile immune systems.
Everything changes. Period.
A few points that are helpful when dealing with change are:
Not all change is bad. While we might initially have panicky, negative thoughts…more often than not, the change is not a bad thing. And it can lead to the most amazing new opportunities and adventures.
Try and embrace the change. Take a look at it from different angles and find the positives. There is generally something you can find that is positive.
Don’t overthink it. We cannot control most changes in our life, so what is the point of letting it pay rent in our minds? Find a way to accept that the change is happening and then move on
If applicable. Start to practice where the change is in your life. If it’s a new skill, do some research or have a go to see if you can start learning the new skill.
Fear of Success
In Australia, we have something called Tall Poppy Syndrome. You can do OK, but don’t do too well. It’s like we hold ourselves back just so people don’t notice us. It’s a very destructive mentality that ensures most of us don’t strive towards our goals with as much gust as we would love to. To be truly successful you need to move past worrying about what others think of you.
When it comes to success, a couple of questions to ask yourself are:
What am I afraid of losing if I succeed?
What is my secondary gain by not changing?
There is often something gained by not succeeding. The key here is to think about what that might be. It could be that you like life to be nice and simple. Your partner might not be comfortable with you being successful. I won’t have time to be successful so I’ll just stay small. My friends might get jealous if I’m a success
During my younger years and even into my twenties, I had so many areas of fear. I held myself back, tried to fit in with others, and didn’t live.
Once I started to move out of that reality, everything started to change. While I’m sure there are still some areas of fear that I have on a subconscious level, my day-to-day life is full of freedom and excitement. Not dread or fear.
Here are some simple tips that will help you to move forward from fear:
Wherever you are right now ‒ start there
What is your end goal? Know what you want so you can work towards that
Have a plan and write it down, step by step
If you fail, try again. Might might need a different approach
Don’t compare yourself with others
Know it’s OK to ask for help
Ask questions to get clarity
You need to know that we are all the same. Every single one of us has the same thoughts, and emotions and has lived with fear. You are not alone on your journey from fear to freedom.