“The only thing to fear is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
I hate thinking about all the times I have allowed fear to reign over me, have a stronghold in my life, stand in the way of my pursuing things and keep me from doing things I needed to do.
Fear is paralyzing, a terrorizer and most of all; a great thief. The only thing to really fear is fear itself for the havoc it can create in your life and the many ways it can rob you.
Webster’s dictionary defines fear as an unpleasant, sometimes strong emotion caused by an anticipation of danger or anxious concern. It is safe to say based on the latter definition that healthy fears exist that serve, protect and keep us out of harm’s way. The kind of fear most of us experience, however, is often unhealthy and without basis; a result of our wild imagination.
When faced with the unknown, most of us panic and allow fear to set in. Fear is paralyzing because it hinders our progress in life and keeps us stagnant where movement/action is often required. Most people when faced with situations that require them to stretch and grow opt to stay in their comfort zones rather than step out of the proverbial boat and walk on water.
Fear disguises itself and shows up in many different ways and forms in our lives, with the following being the most common:
The Fear that we aren’t good enough. This mask of fear is probably the most common and paralyzing of all because it takes a jab at our self-esteem and confidence and puts a dent on them. Many of us don’t think or believe we are smart enough, educated enough, qualified enough, connected enough, attractive enough, or whatever enough to pursue our dreams.
We refuse to dream because we don’t believe we have what it takes to bring our dreams to fruition or are even worthy of them. This form of fear often results after accepting negative words spoken to us and limitations placed on us by our loved ones or society. It takes deeper root in our lives when we compare ourselves with others and feel like we fall short or don’t measure up.
1. Fear of failure.
This kind of fear is often reflected in our lives when we pass up opportunities, make up excuses for why we can’t do certain things or stubbornly refuse to do them. Deep within us is the fear that we won’t succeed and that our flaws and inabilities will be on display as a result. So rather than risk the embarrassment of seeming inadequate or even human, we resist anything that would challenge us to get out of our comfort zones or to save face, take up the challenge but procrastinate pursuing it or never come around to doing it at all.
2. Fear of losing control.
The mask of fear shows up in our lives when we try to control those around us and everything that concerns our lives lest people take advantage of, dupe or hurt us. It shows up in relationships when we choose to play games rather than be authentic and allow ourselves to be vulnerable. In this case, if often seems wiser to put up walls, run away or use defense mechanisms geared at protecting ourselves against hurt, rejection or disappointment.
3. Fear that we can’t have what we want.
This is the number one reason people settle for less, resign themselves to mediocre lives, and fail to ask for what they want, put up with more than they have to and stay in unsatisfying relationships and jobs that are way past due. The underlying feeling is that of unworthiness; deep down, we feel that we aren’t worthy of the things we desire or that we can’t have them. We might also experience this kind of fear after having people pooh pooh our lives often and tell us that they are impossible and that we don’t have what it takes to make them happen.
4. Fear that there isn’t enough.
Despite the fact that the universe is unlimited and abundant in all ways, most of us don’t believe that there’s enough to go around and have therefore developed a competitive mentality that is responsible for the dog-eat-dog World that we live in. We believe we have to stab others in the back or step over them to get ahead and that if we share whatever it is we have, we won’t have enough left over for ourselves.
Freeing ourselves from the cycle of fear is challenging and requires a lot of effort on our part. We have to re-program our minds and change the way we view ourselves. We can begin to relinquish the hold fear has in our lives by starting to believe in ourselves and our abilities. This will allow us to take the necessary steps we need to take to pursue and do the things we would otherwise put off, thus building our confidence and allowing us to face more of our fears head on.
The only way to really get past our fears is by embracing them and doing the very thing(s) we fear. Eventually, the more we confront our fears and deny them power over us, the more confident in ourselves we’ll become and render our fears harmless; with time the fears we once considered giants will begin to diminish or disappear altogether.
How has fear negatively influenced your life? In what ways has fear robbed you?