Self-actualization: it’s that magical state of walking your walk and talking your talk. When I think of self-actualized people I think of those who’ve found massive success on their own terms. (Gary Vaynerchuk springs to mind!)
These are the people that fill us with envy. Wouldn’t life be so much better if we could just do what X or Y did?
So what separates these superstars from the rest of us?
The thing is there’s often not that much different between you and those you look up to. Of course, being successful requires showing up and putting in the work. But few people are born entrepreneurs or writers or public speakers. Most of those success stories have put in a lot of work to get where they are.
The ability to face your fears.
We all tend to gloss over the reality of successful people’s backgrounds. We think they’re just lucky or extra talented. We don’t realize that those people have had to face many of the exact same obstacles that we do.
Successful people have just as many fears as you do! The only difference is that they have learned how to manage their fear instead of letting their fear manage them. No one is truly fearless! The successful have just figured out how to be afraid and still do the damn thing.
But I get it: many of us don’t even realize just how much fear affects our life! After all, it’s not like you walk around quaking with fear whenever you encounter a new situation, right? So maybe you’re not even aware that fear is getting in your way.
So let me ask you this: what’s the real reason you haven’t asked out the guy or the girl? Or submitted your resume to the company you really want to work for? Or had the tough conversation with your husband or wife?
When we’re willing to be honest, the truth becomes plain as day: fear is what’s holding you back from living your best life.
However, I also don’t blame you for not noticing this truth! And here’s why: fear is really good at hiding itself. Our brain loves to invent a lot of stories about why we don’t need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone.
But those stories are just mental armour of sorts: they’re allowing us to play small while totally avoiding the real underlying reason we’re not taking action.
We sugarcoat our fear. We create stories around it. And we’re so good at doing it that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it!
Change is scary. Putting ourselves out there in new ways is terrifying! And growth doesn’t always feel very good.
But if you’re committed to creating the life of your dreams (and to stepping out of living life by default), then you need to get cozy with your own fears.
The worst thing we can do about fear is deny that we even have it! Because once we can see what our fear really is, it becomes much easier to manage.
The shadows in the closet aren’t scary at all once you turn the light on! So let’s turn the light on inside our own internal closet. Here are the ten most common fears we all must face on the road to success, as well as some advice on how to get over them.
Your 10 Most Common Fears & How To Deal With Them
Fear #1: Fear of Uncertainty
Human beings are planners by nature. We love to know what we’re doing today, tomorrow, next week, even next year. We love things to be in order and to make sense! So we also tend to forget the very nature of reality:
Things fall off the rails All. The. Freakin. Time.
Planning can only take you so far! People change their minds, companies change directions or close down. We’re surrounded by all kinds of things that are outside of our control! But we don’t like to acknowledge that uncertainty.
Planning our life in advance is not a guarantee of anything! There’s that wonderful old saying “make plans and watch God laugh”. Yet we still fool ourselves into thinking that our future is certain, just because we’ve planned it!
Nothing is certain babes, no matter how much you want it to be! But acknowledging our lack of control can actually be a huge relief. When you know certainty is never real, you stop taking responsibility for the things out of your control and that is truly liberating.
Fear #2: Fear of Failure
One of the most common fears preventing you from making progress is the fear of failure. Think about the things you want to call into your life–and now think about how not achieving them would feel?
The problem here is that we tend to get overly wrapped up in our own narrative. We worry about what other people will think if we don’t achieve our goals! But in real life, no one’s paying that much attention to you. Everybody’s worrying about their own journey, not obsessing over yours.
Besides, failures are really only failures if you think of them that way! Instead, I prefer to think of everything as a learning experience. If you don’t get something right the first time, you get to try again! Sometimes it takes us a few times to get things right but if we just gave up the first time we’d miss out on so much in life.
So don’t make anything all or nothing! You’ll always get something out of the experience even if things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. But the game’s not over! And only you get to decide what to do with this experience.
Fear #3: Fear of Rejection
Humans are social creatures. At heart, we’re pack animals and that tendency served an important evolutionary purpose. Back when we were out hunting our meals every day, those who lived together had a better survival rate than those who tried to go it alone. Indeed, being shunned by your community was often equal to death.
While we’ve moved on from that experience, our lizard brain hasn’t. So even though we’re not in imminent danger, being rejected by those around us carries a powerful punch. We often experience those same symptoms as the fear of death: racing heart, sweatiness, out-and-out panic.
To combat this fear, just try to remember all the times you were rejected by someone but didn’t actually die (ie. all of them!). It’s very useful to show your brain how you not only survived the situation but also how you probably don’t even care all that much about the rejection anymore. Rejection stings in the moment but it leads most of us to a better space eventually! Reminding yourself of this fact can help get you over your fear of experiencing rejection again.
Fear #4: Fear of Change
We have an awfully peculiar relationship with change! While we might have a laundry-list of things we want to change in our life, when it comes down to it we often talk ourselves out of the very things that we want.
That’s because change goes hand-in-hand with the unknown–and the unknown is downright terrifying. Again, our brain loves order. It loves to understand the world around us. When things change, we get very uncomfortable. And even though we might not realize it, our brain is actively trying to avoid change. It interprets all change as dangerous, even though few things are actually physically dangerous in this day and age!
It’s time to face the truth: you can’t create the life of your dreams without pushing yourself out of your comfort zone! It’s time to start embracing the fear of change as just a part of life rather than something you need to avoid.
Fear #5: Fear of Losing Control
Control is something we all love to think we have over our life! Again, we love to plan and by planning we think that we also get some control over how the world will work. But that’s definitely not true!
Planning can only get you so far! We can try to plan how things are going to work out all we want but we can’t ever fully predict what will happen in real life until we actually experience it. Research is only so useful. But we learn the most from real life and all the research and planning in the world won’t change that.
To get past this fear, it’s important to realize that there are many factors that are out of your control. Control is always just an illusion! So if you never had it, what’s the harm in losing it? As you can see, it’s ridiculous to let fear of losing control hold you back from what you want.
Fear #6: Fear of Judgment
Tied very closely with our fear of rejection is our fear of judgment. We fear being found to be lacking, especially when the person judging us might not have the entire picture.
The funny thing is, as much as we fear being judged, we’re pretty good at judging those around us! Even when you don’t think of yourself as being a judgmental person, we’re conditioned to constantly judge and rate those around us. (“Hmmmm that girl claims to be spiritual but did she meditate as much as I did this morning?”) That’s exactly where the fear comes from! When you judge everyone else, you think everyone else is judging you too.
Worrying too much about being judged can lead you to living a closed-off life. One way to avoid judgment is to avoid sharing your true nature with the world around you. But closing yourself off to real connection will leave you feeling alone and—duh! disconnected from those around you. The one thing all humans crave is a feeling of connection with those around us. But obviously we can’t do that unless we’re willing to get vulnerable ourselves.
Yes, it can be scary to bare your soul and put yourself out there. But you can’t find true happiness unless you brave that experience. Saving yourself from judgment is never worth the price you must pay!
Fear #7: Fear of Inadequacy
Tied closely with the fear of judgment is the fear of inadequacy. Being told we’re inadequate is rough. But it mostly hurts because it take away our sense of control. If someone judges us and deems us lacking, we rarely get a second chance.
However, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with being deemed inadequate. In most situations, you can take action to remedy the problem. More practice or learning will get you a long way! Remember, there’s really no such thing as failure. So someone telling you’ve got it wrong shouldn’t be a big deal. You can always go back and learn more–unless you decide that it’s impossible.
The dead-end’s in our life are usually of our own making–and if they’re not, take refuge in the thought that that person or thought just wasn’t meant for you anyway! What’s meant for you won’t miss you, so don’t spend too much time worrying about someone deeming you inadequate.
Fear #8: Fear of Getting Hurt
Wouldn’t it be great to skate through life without any heartbreak, misunderstandings or strife? Of course it would! The problem is isn’t a reality for anyone. Being a human is a tricky business! That means occasionally someone does something that hurts us or we pin our hopes on something without any real-life evidence to back those hopes up.
Most of the time, experiencing hurt is the result of our own unmet expectations. We think the world is going to work a certain way but when it doesn’t we get upset. However, our expectations are just a creation in our own mind! They often have no real reflection of what’s going on in the real world. Essentially, we always just hurt ourselves.
To combat your fear of getting hurt, you have to analyze why you’re feeling the way you are. Where did your expectation come from? Why did you formulate that desire? Once you can see how getting hurt is typically a result of our own errors in thinking, then you can begin safe-gaurding against it by changing your own thoughts.
Fear #9: Fear of Something Bad Happening
When things are going well–really well–have you ever looked around and thought to yourself “Things are just too good to be true! Something bad’s going to happen!” This form of self-sabotage is actually a reflection of our upper limit problem. When we’re not used to feeling really good, sometimes we do something drastic to make sure we don’t: missing an important meeting, picking a fight or cheating on a wonderful relationship.
So it’s not that something bad is bound to happen when things are good! It’s that we don’t know how to deal with all that goodness, so we create a negative situation out of our own insecurities.
Feeling good is an art all too itself and sometimes we’re just don’t have that much practice at it. So forgive yourself if you sometimes find yourself expecting the worst! But once you notice it, it’s time to take action. Remember that what you focus on expands! So putting time and effort into thinking those defeatist thoughts will never create anything good. Now’s as good a time as any to stop doubling down on what you don’t want and start embracing what you do.
Fear #10: Fear of Missing Out
It’s true: FOMO is real–and it can be debilitating. This fear is a little different from the rest because it deflects our attention from what we really want in life. The way this usually plays out is by taking your focus away from the things that are truly important to you. Our time is limited but that means you have to mindful of where you spend your time! So do you choose working out (and committing to your weight loss goals) or do you choose another Netflix marathon?
FOMO also has another drawback. Wishing you were somewhere else takes your attention away from where you are. But we can only ever find happiness and peace when we land in the now. The past and future (or some other present moment) can only bring anxiety or depression because you are not there. Learning to enjoy the choice you’ve made and the current moment that you occupy will always make you feel so much better in the end.
Above all else, if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this post make it this: fear is normal. It’s natural! And it’s definitely not a sign that you need to stop what you’re doing! We actually start to feel fear right before the moments of our biggest catalysts for change. So fear actually means you’re doing something right, not doing something wrong!
Don’t let fear hold you back from what you want! And remember this process isn’t about becoming fearless. Rather, embrace your fear and decide to take action anyway.
So tell me: what kind of fears are you experiencing the most? How are you going to start taking action to change that fear?
I hope this post inspires you to take action against whatever it is that’s holding you back!
Thank you so much for reading! As always, I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.