We all know that uncomfortable, disconcerting feeling that causes us to take a back seat in our own life and prevents us from proactively moving forward to reach our goals and aspirations.
One way to counteract fear's adverse impact on your life and career is to identify the type of fear that might be driving your actions—or lack thereof. Recognizing the specific fears that are holding you back is the critical first step toward breaking free from emotional paralysis and living a more carefree and fulfilling life.
Here are nine common fears that hold people back from that which they desire, both personally and professionally:
Fear of Success
Many of us are afraid of achieving our dreams and standing out because of the attention we will receive should we actually realize success. Yes, people might look at you and talk about you, which can make you feel self-conscious.
Even though you know what you want to achieve in life, by giving into this particular fear you lose faith in yourself and your abilities, and in those who truly have your best interests at heart and want to see you succeed.
Fear of Leading
With leadership comes responsibility, and many are afraid of being responsible for an outcome that impacts not only themselves but also the people they are guiding. This is where you need to trust your intuition to guide you and have faith that you will make the right decisions—the same faith that those who are following you have in you.
Letting go of the outcome and its possible ramifications brings freedom and releases you from fear of the unknown. It allows you to trust your leadership skills and be an example for others.
Fear of Speaking
Many people fear public speaking more than any other activity. In the course of our lives and careers we are often required to present thoughts and ideas to others, but public speaking takes a significant level of confidence and ability.
Being a confident speaker requires training more than talent. Master this skill and you will command the attention and respect you deserve.
Fear of Inadequacy
Feelings of inadequacy can come from inherent low self-esteem or past negative experiences. If someone has told you that you couldn't do something or shamed you into believing you weren't capable of doing something "well enough," you may still be carrying that feeling of ineptitude without even realizing it. This subconscious stronghold can be truly debilitating.
The best defense against a fear of inadequacy is to master the specific skill, subject, or activity in question. In doing so, you will become self-assured in your execution.
Fear of Failure
All too often we stop short of attempting something new for fear we might embarrass ourselves or, worse, fail altogether. When facing something new, a fear of failure can be amplified as anxiety and nerves, and our "fight or flight" instinct kicks in. These intense feelings can cause us to put our aspirations on the shelf where they can languish in perpetuity.
The best course here is, as Mary Kay Ash put it, to "fail forward to success." Failure is part of the road toward success and should not be feared but embraced as an opportunity for growth.
Fear of Compromising Integrity
Many fear that in order to be successful in a career, we have to compromise our integrity and go against what we believe to be right. Overcoming this concern requires nothing more than committing to making belief-based decisions in all aspects of your life so that, when you do realize your success, you have no guilt or angst over how that success manifested. It's important to recognize that you can be successful while adhering to your personal value system.
Fear of Vulnerability
While it can be uncomfortable or even downright scary to open yourself up and expose your innermost ideas and aspirations to others, doing so can also be cathartic and a true turning point in effecting positive change.
Letting down your guard takes courage and strength, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable can help you better relate to people on a more intimate and personal level.
Fear of Being Alone
Many people stay in dysfunctional relationships or unhealthy career situations because they are afraid of breaking away from the pack or being isolated from a situation and people they once valued.
It's impossible to be completely content in life if you are uncomfortable being by yourself, or if your frame of mind is contingent on anyone else. Such codependency puts your own attempts at happiness and success at the mercy of external factors, which rarely leads to optimal results.
Fear of Appearing Selfish
Some people think it's selfish to do anything for themselves, so instead, they take care of everybody else and either burn out, harbor feelings of resentment, or both. It can be difficult to find a way out of this quagmire, especially once you have let others develop expectations and come to depend on you.
However, taking care of your needs first is not a selfish luxury, but rather a psychological imperative. You cannot be of much use to the world around you if you are not being emotionally nourished yourself. Only then can you truly attend to the needs of others.
The best way to combat any fear is to hit it head on, keep moving forward, and stay focused on achieving your goal. There will always be obstacles that make reaching your goal seem impossible, and it takes discipline and tenacity to stay on track toward your destination. Be committed to the promises you make yourself and seeing them through, even when the going gets tough. Only then can you keep those fears at bay and hit the fast track toward success.
ELDONNA LEWIS-FERNANDEZ is a motivational
speaker known as The Pink Biker Chic, empowering
individuals to take control of the handlebars of their
lives through the power of PINK: Power, Integrity,
Negotiation and Knowledge. Eldonna trains people
how to think and redirect their energies for
higher performance and better results.