Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of loss. Fear of death. Fear of rejection. Fear of change. Fear of abandonement. Fear of judgement. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of shame. Fear of feelings. Fear of opinions. Fear of ridicule. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of public perceptions. Fear of embarassment. Fear of sucking at whatever it may be. Fear of being alone. Fear of illness. Fear of medical professionals. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of letting someone or others down. Fear of disappointment. Fear of losing a loved one. Fear of fucking up a good thing. Fear of cats, dogs, mice, spiders…. Fear of confrontation. Fear of losing your shit. Fear of losing your mind. Fear of poverty. Fear of homelessness.
There’s no shortage of things to be afraid of. I’ve listed just a few of the many fears we may have. Chances are, you have experienced or are experiencing at least one of the above. I certainly have and do. And I’m continually reminding myself and others that fear is both normal and natural. The goal is not to have “no fear” no matter how popular the phrase may be. Fear is healthy and quite appropriate. Fear keeps us alert and protects us from dangerous situations. It’s only a problem when fear prevents us from doing or expressing in ways that are good for us.
Are you afraid of sharks? Cool. Let that fear prevent you from putting yourself in potentially dangerous situations with sharks. You’ll never reach your hand out to pet one or have your pinky bitten off by one as I just saw on Instagram yesterday. But, if that fear has you avoiding all bodies of water where sharks don’t even exist, you want to address that. Otherwise, you’re missing out on swimming and a host of water sports that may enhance your life.
Where things get tricky are situations where fear is actually hurting you or stifling your wellbeing. Are you sitting in a relationship that is just okay, totally sucks, or is intermittently abusive? Are you sacrificing your wellbeing and happiness because you’re desperately afraid of facing the reality of your discontent, and proceeding accordingly? In relationships, sometimes we get trapped into a thought pattern about how much we love someone or believe that they love us. “But they/she/he loves me, so….” and “I still love them so much, so…”
The answer here is actually, so what? Does your love for them and/or their love for you mean you have to suck it up? Or, can you recognize that while y’all may love each other, there are some significant disconnects that make the relationship challenging and either a) may require the support of a licensed professional to potentially address and ameliorate, or b) may require you to face your fears of failure, the judgement or perceptions of others, and ending the relationship?
Yes, we must face our fears. We must get comfortable feeling fear, and still proceeding to make the decisions that are necessary for our wellbeing, growth, and evolution. I gave an example about relationships, but could’ve easily given examples about finances, career, health, or any aspect of life. The message here is that you will feel fear and need to be aware of your fears in order to recognize when they are helping or harming you, and when you need to address them.
It can be as simple as not speaking up about a desire or discontent to another person. By saying nothing, fear is preventing the fullness of your expression. Whereas were you to simply say, “I really want Mexican tonight,” “No, I don’t think that’s fair,” “That hurt my feelings and is a very inconsiderate way to speak to me,” or “It would be really helpful if you allow me to finish my thought before interrupting,” you would be taking important steps to fear less and be fully engaged in life even as you feel and face your fears.
Would you like to hear more about overcoming fears? Are there times and ways that fear has held you back from taking steps that would enable you greater freedom and/or fulfillment in life? What questions come up for you when you think about the idea of fearing less?