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Three Fears Holding You Back From the Life You Deserve

Updated: 5 days ago

fears, advice
three fears holding you back

Fear. It’s one of the main barriers for many of us to achieve the things we desire, do the things we need to do, and what so often keeps us stuck in various places in life. But it doesn’t have to be.

What if I told you there are three fears that most of us cycle through on any given day? I bet some of you brave folk reading this right now would say, “no, that’s not true, that’s not me”. But think back on anything you wanted to achieve but for some reason or another, you just didn’t.

For most of you, there’s at least one moment that sticks out for you. Was it a dream job, or a particular area in school you wanted to focus on, or even asking that person you had admired for so long out on a date…but for some reason or another, you just never got around to it? What was the reason that made not follow through on pursuing that?  I bet at the root of it was one of these three fears.

No need to fret that you’re being singled out for having one or all three of these fears that held you back from whatever-that-thing was that you wanted, because these fears afflict all of us at some point in our lives. So, let’s dive into what these fears are, and more importantly, how you can leverage these fears to your advantage to overcome and achieve the goals you desire.


The fear of rejection

The fear of rejection is one of the fears that holds so many of us back.

What happens if I don’t get the job offer? What if the person I’m really into doesn’t like me back? What if I don’t get that place I’ve always wanted?

The what-if’s that can occupy our minds when we’re living in the fear of rejection are endless. But what if instead of allowing the fear of rejection to take hold of our mind -- or even ignore it exists – what if we embraced it and got curious as to what outdated belief is lying beneath it?

Most often than not, the fear of rejection stems from an underlying and often outdated belief that we hold to be true about ourselves. That, if we don’t get what we’re working towards, it directly correlates to our self-worth as an individual.

How the fear of rejection can show up in our lives can be when we we’re about to embark on some big, or new or something that gets us outside of our comfort zone, where we feel uncomfortable, awkward, bare. And this feeling can leave us feeling vulnerable, longing to go back to our old way of being, similar to that of child that’s been dropped off for their very first day of school, only to run after their parent in attempt to go back to their old way of being -- that feeling of familiarity, comfort, and ultimately, safety.

So often,

the fear of rejection delivers a crushing blow and validates an inaccurate evaluation of our worth,

and often goes hand-in-hand with our second fear, the fear of what others think.


The fear of what others think

This fear is just as pervasive as the fear of rejection. The fear of what others will think/say is a fear that many of us have whenever we’re faced with stepping outside of our comfort zones, trying new things that are closely aligned with who we’re evolving into, or when we’re faced with having to respond to something challenging.

This fear is deeply rooted in our evolutionary psychology, stemming all the way back to our caveman era when we heavily relied on our tribe for survival. Going against the grain – or tribe, I should say – surely meant you would be kicked out of the tribe, and your chances of survival solo were low. And although tons has evolved since those caveman days, our tribe-like social needs remain to this day, but in different ways from our caveman ancestors.

So, how do these ancient tribal social norms manifest in today’s culture?

To answer this, let’s reflect on any past time you tried something new. Whether that be a new look, a new routine, or a new hobby. I bet you had at least one friend or relative make a comment about it to you. Something along the lines of, “Oohhh someone’s looking fancy”, when you’ve worn a new outfit that’s outside of your go-to wardrobe staples. Your first instinct would be to hide away and change your clothes back to your old, go-to’s. This would be a perfect example of the fear of what others will think at play here.

Rather than focusing on what the armchair critics will say (spoiler alert: they always have something to say), remind yourself of why YOU’RE doing what you’re doing. Remind yourself of the WHY’S and motivation behind what you’re doing.

Are you trying a new look to breath new energy into a stale and outdated look you’ve had for a long time? Are you trying a new hobby to learn something new and to challenge yourself? Did you apply for the promotion or higher position because you’ve mastered your current role and you’re looking for a new challenge?

Whatever YOUR WHY is, remind yourself of that anytime you try something new or when the armchair critics pipe up.



The fear of success

This fear may sound ridiculous, leaving you to ask:

“but who would fear success if that’s what so many people chase after?”

You would be amazed at how many high-level and high earning people appear to externally “have it all”, but at the end of the day, when the lights go out, the cameras turn off, the crew leave, and they’re on they’re on their own, when the truth shows up, the hard truth is that they haven’t addressed the root cause of what they’re either avoiding to feel or heal through external means.

Aside from those high achievers, many other people fear success on a deep, unconscious level. It just plays out in their actions and their choices.

Take for instance, someone who “played it safe” by choosing a stable education that led to a stable career, living their life in a safe, predicable way but they always wanted to pursue a career in the arts, travelling the world performing their art for audiences. Everyday they’d wake up at the same predicable time, go about their same predicable morning routine and day, only to go to bed at the same predicable time. All the while, throughout their day, they feel this deep sense of regret for not pursing their desired career. Now keep in mind, this isn’t to shame those who thrive in predicable routines and/or chose a career path because of other priorities, such as having kids or caring for a sick or elderly parent; that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I am talking about is when you’re living that lifestyle because someone “expected” that of you, all the while your true authentic passion lie elsewhere.

Another place the fear of success lies is in the dating world. Have you ever met someone who seemed to have it all: they’re mature, caring, is kind and communicative, and has their shit together? Your dates with them are flawless, and they show genuine interest in getting to know you more, but for some reason, all you can see is their flaws and the myriad of ways “it just won’t’ work out”. This could be the fear of success, success in the relationship, which could also be stemming from a repetitive pattern of dating emotionally unavailable people where you feel comfortable and familiar with, or it could also stem from rejecting yourself first so that they can’t beat you to it (which could also work in conjunction alongside our friend, the fear of rejection).

Whichever is your reason for the fear of success, a great place to start to work with this fear is to ask yourself:

“What do I have to gain and what will I be losing if I achieve this success?”

This will allow you to shift your focus off of the fear that’s hold you back and in the same place of stuckness and into a forward-motion-biases.


Final Thoughts

And sometimes, it’s not limited to just one fear, but a combination of fears. Take for example, the fear of rejection combined with the fear of what others will think; these two fears combine when we go for that promotion or apply to that new job.

But what if I don’t get the job or promotion (fear of rejection), what will my colleagues/family/friends say (fear of what others will say)?

Wherever you happen to sit with one, two, or even a combination of all these fears, people can only perceive you to the degree in which they perceive themselves, and to the image of what you’re projecting outwardly (think public persona vs private persona).

And even more importantly,

just because you happen to be experiencing these fears in your life, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck buddy-buddy with it,

or having to suffer through it like some bad flu.

By simply bringing awareness to which one is holding you back from making that big move, that big decision, that change, and identifying the ways it’s creating a barrier between you and that thing, you can leverage that fear to your advantage.

Consider befriending your fears as one of your greatest teachers and watch how you both can achieve greatness.


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