Nobody is immune to fear. Being scared is a natural part of the human condition. We have fears – whether it’s heights, public speaking, or approaching a person at the bar.
In this context, one part of our brain tells us to stay in our comfy little corner and refrain from doing anything risky.
Fear isn’t inherently negative. The fear of injury can prevent us from driving like a hooligan. The fear of being broke can avert imbecilic financial decisions.
6 fears that hold you back in life
Fear is, however, also one of the forces that will hold you back. In other words, dreading too many things will lead to apathy. Here are five common fears that hold you back – and how to overcome them.
What if I get rejected?
One of the most common anxieties is the fear of rejection.
I would love to apply for that dream job, but what if they don’t take me? I want to approach that person at the bar, but what if they aren’t interested?
Fear of rejection is a straightforward idea. We have to do something new, and we don’t know the outcome.
In many cases, it’s not so much a fear of people but a fear of uncertainty. We choose the safe option by not exposing ourselves to the risk of rejection.
Ask yourself the following: what’s the worst possible outcome?
If you’re afraid you won’t get job X, the worst potential result is that you’ll have to look for another job. No job is perfect, and no opportunity is 100% unique.
If you’re scared to talk to someone because they might reject you, consider this: if they do, they’ll have forgotten about you within ten minutes.
Uncertainty is a natural part of life. And once you realize that the worst possible outcome is usually just a matter of finding a new opportunity, your fear of rejection will dwindle.
I don’t like to speak in front of a crowd
Another emotion many people wrestle with is the fear of public speaking.
Something unsettling about having to address a crowd is not knowing the reaction.
One of the most potent ways to get rid of your fear of public speaking is to stop thinking about yourself.
In a 2019 Harvard Business Review article, Sarah Gershman writes the following,
“The key to disarming our organic panic button is to turn the focus away from ourselves — away from whether we will mess up or whether the audience will like us — and toward helping the audience.”
The secret resides in shifting your focus from your fear of speaking toward the quality of your speech.
In this context, whenever you feel nervous about speaking your public, ask yourself whether the content of your upcoming speech will be helpful to your audience. If yes, there is no reason to be anxious.
Of course, it will take time to get there, but with practice, the focus-shifting model will reduce your fear of public speaking.
Man, that’s risky
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
In a comfortable, dopamine-driven society, risk often has a negative connotation.
Better go to college, get a job, get married, have children, and buy a house.
You’ve heard this before. There is a common, safe approach to life and a risky one.
In reality, no approach is better. Risk is not positive or negative. It’s just a natural part of life.
Everything you do carries a certain amount of risk. In this context, crossing the street is risky. Getting married is risky. Just ask Johnny Depp.
The crucial aspect concerns risk calculation.
If you’re afraid of failure, focus on becoming good at calculating risk. Because once prepared for what could happen in case of failure, the potential fear will decrease dramatically.
In simple terms, fear of failure is a result of not having a plan B and not managing risk properly.
Taking stupid risks that have a 10% chance of success is careless. Managing risk and having several escape routes is a surefire way to eliminate your fear of failure.
I have never done this before
Fear is often a direct consequence of a lack of experience.
Because you’ve never been in a similar situation before, you’re afraid of what might happen.
There is nothing extraordinary about this feeling. Whenever we try something new, we have to face a novel reality, and unseen challenges. And those hurdles create fear.
Here’s how to overcome your lack of experience.
The simple reality is that every person does something for the first time at some point. And the first time is always the scariest. The second, third, or tenth time will feel different. Once you concentrate your thoughts on that evolution, the first time will be more manageable.
I am not good enough
Finally, the single biggest fear that most people face is the fear of inadequacy.
We believe that we are not good enough for a job, a potential partner, a side hustle, or a sports team.
Here’s the simple truth: in some cases, you’re right.
Not everybody has enough writing skills to become a full-time writer. Not everybody can become a movie star. And there is certainly not enough room for you on the next spaceship.
That, however, doesn’t mean that you’re inadequate. You might not have the skillset for X, but you will have the talents for Y.
To counter your fear of inadequacy, you have to do the following: identify your talents and combine them with hard work. That marriage is a recipe for success and the best way to crush your fears.
Useful links on 6 Fears That Hold You Back in Life
- More in the section “Life”
- More on the topic “Mindset”
- Read 5 Ancient Tactics That Help You Become Calmer Every Day