Fear and How It Holds Us Back

Fear is good and can help keep us safe. fear and anxiety can protect us from making dangerous choices. Fear is what taught us to survive- we do not want to be hurt. The fear is what helps us learn not to touch a hot stove, or teaches us to be safe near stairs or cliffs. While there are multiple reasons why fear can help us, it can also be destructive.

Before we had houses, we had to be alert of our surroundings because we had to protect ourselves from threats from other groups or wild animals. Now that we do not have to do so, we channel that same energy and anxiety into other things that are actually not dangerous to us, which can become limiting. This is not talking about the fear of rejection or public embarrassment- this is actually tied to not wanting to feel rejected from your group because before, when we were extremely communal, it was a death sentence to no longer be part of a group. However, now that it is no longer the case, it can become a fear that holds us back as well with a few exceptions. Now that many of these dangers are reduced or eliminated, majority of the time the fear level does not diminish and this can hold us back. I am talking about being afraid of getting a new house, applying for a new job, asking for help, and so on.

Fear makes us feel like we have to be on our own. It makes us feel like we are unable to reach out, and it can cause us to resent ourselves and others. Have you ever seen someone do something so incredibly bold, brave, and different that you or others think “Wow, I could never,” or “Who do they think they are?” Maybe you may even find yourself thinking “I wish I could do that,” or “That should be me!” When we think about these statements, we have to go to the root of why these statements are being said- it is because we are afraid to do the action that person has done. This does not mean we are shaking in our boots at the thought of the action itself, but maybe we fear the consequences – how people would react to us or how we would look if it fails. This type of fear is what holds us back, and with fear holding us back we can never make true progress.

Whenever we find ourselves nervous about something, or hesitant, take the time to ask why. Is it dangerous, or are we just scared. There are many scary what-ifs to situations, but there are amazing what-ifs as well. An exercise I recommend is you look at a situation and list three outcomes- worst case scenario, best case scenario, and what is likely to happen. A good example to this would be if I were to think of going to a party that I am nervous to go to, there are three outcomes- I could be instantly made fun of, told that I don’t belong and am quite possibly laughed to death, or I could be the life of the party with everyone wanting to be my friend and inviting me out to more events, and what will most likely happen is I go chill with my friend at the party until I find a cute animal, get distracted, have some snacks and a drink, then decide to go home because I am over it.

By refusing to ignore that scary what-if, it makes it so it is not always in the back of our head. By knowing that scary what if and saying that there are more options that are better and more likely, it can help us feel more confident. It may not remove the fear completely, but it gives us more control. Once we have a bit more control, we can find that we are no longer being so held back.

What are ways you handle fear? Is fear holding you back? Let me know!

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