Source: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock

Author: Jari Roomer

Fear is a powerful force. It helps us stay alive and prevents us from doing stupid stuff. However, it’s also a very limiting mental blockade that can prevent you from achieving the life you want. Fear has the power to literally kill your ambitions, goals and dreams. Fear creates excuses that seem legitimate enough so that you’ll stop taking action and go back to your comfort zone.

The problem is that most of these fears are subconscious and therefore it isn’t always easy to identify what type of fears are holding you back. Without consciously being aware of it myself, fear had quite a strong grip on my life. Fear was the main reason I was procrastinating. It was the main reason why I wasn’t working on the highest value activities that would actually help me achieve my goals. Fear was sabotaging my success. But fortunately, I’ve learned to use fear as a compass for action — and it now helps me navigate what I should be doing and where I should be going with my life and business.

First, I’m going to discuss the 4 types of fears in detail so you can start thinking about which ones are limiting you. Then, at the end of this article, I’ll talk about how to overcome your fears in 7 steps, so you can start to tap into your full potential.

Fear #1: Fear of Rejection

The fear of rejection is probably the biggest fear out there. It’s where almost all of the other fears we’ll be discussing lead to. We’ve all been rejected in our lives. Whether it was the rejection from a university, job interview or by someone from the opposite sex. And rejection hurts. It makes us feel inadequate. It lowers our self-esteem and confidence. In some cases it can hurt so bad that people might even slip into depression.

As human beings, we are true social creatures. Even the biggest introvert on the planet needs other people in order to survive and thrive. Essentially almost all of us are dependent on other people for food, water, shelter and many of the positive emotions such as love and joy. Therefore, we’d do anything to be accepted by others, and we’ll avoid everything that could possibly mean rejection.

Think about it, even as little as hundreds of years ago, rejection equalled physical death. If you were rejected from your tribe, you wouldn’t survive for long. Nowadays, rejection equals psychological death.

One way people avoid all of this pain is by avoiding to stand out. In Australia, they call this the ‘tall-poppy’ syndrome. Famous Australian actress Margot Robbie explains this principle well by saying:

“There’s a thing in Australia called tall poppy syndrome. Have you heard of it? It’s a pretty prevalent thing — they even teach it in school. Poppies are tall flowers, but they don’t grow taller than the rest of the flowers, so there’s a mentality in Australia where people are really happy for you to do well; you just can’t do better than everyone else or they will cut you down to size.”

The poppies grow together and they’re supposed to be uniform. If one grows up too high, it means it’s got to be slashed and cut back down to size. Some people don’t like it if you succeed too much. It makes them feel bad. Therefore, they’ll start to lash out and maybe even reject you. Let them. It says a lot about their ambition and what they’ll achieve in life (not much).

Unfortunately, the fear of rejection causes many people to give up on their dreams and ambitions. They abandon self-development because their friends aren’t doing it. They won’t develop their talents because they don’t want to stand out. They don’t grab every opportunity that comes their way. They don’t start a business because they’re afraid they won’t get the support of their friends and family. They adopt the same bad habits as their friends do in order not to get rejected.

All in all, the drive to avoid the pain of rejection can make us do things that aren’t in line with our purpose and mission. Maybe you’re suffering from this type of fear. This is nothing to be ashamed about, it’s human nature. Only when you identify and accept your fears, you can start to overcome them.

Fear #2: Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is another big reason why many people don’t achieve their best life possible. In fact, the fear of failure can be so paralyzing that people simply decide to procrastinate over and over again, even though they continue talking about their goals.

The payoff for procrastinating is that we protect ourselves from ‘real’ failure. Because as long as you don’t put in the necessary effort for success, you’re at least not confronted by ‘real’ failure. You can still refer back to the excuse that you haven’t given it your all and that you potentially can do so much better. But make no mistake. Not taking action is a bigger failure than ‘failing’ at your goals.

When you really fail at your goal, despite taking action, you’d still learn valuable lessons and therefore grow. But if you simply procrastinate, you won’t learn. You’ll only waste your time. Remember, on your journey to success it’s necessary for you to fail and make mistakes. It’s an essential part of the process. At those moments, you’ll learn new valuable lessons that’ll help you get closer to your endgoal.

For example, when I started my first business, GetGo Investing (a financial education business), I made a ton of mistakes. I spend so many hours working on content that would never see daylight. I made products no one really wanted. I’ve switched from strategy to strategy, all without the results I hoped for. For 1.5 years, I didn’t earn a single dollar in revenue… And yes, it was painful and embarrassing. But I learned so many valuable lessons that would eventually help me earn a full-time income online and grow my other businesses (Elevation and Personal Growth Lab) much faster and more profitable than before. It was during that process where I realized that every failure brought me closer to success and that every mistake serves a purpose — which is to learn and to grow.

One last thing that I want to say about the fear of failure is that you should let go of perfectionism. When you believe that things should be done perfectly, the result is that nothing gets done at all. When faced with a task, you become overwhelmed and frustrated by impossible standards. 80% is good enough. When you continue to aim for ‘perfect’, you won’t get a lot done — and the fear of failure creeps in time and time again. When perfect is your standard, anything below that is considered failure. Don’t forget that perfectionism is usually just a form of insecurity and procrastination that has managed to dress up in a seemingly positive character trait.

Fear #3: Fear of Success

The fear of success is a type of fear that most people don’t expect to see on this list. Probably, as a Personal Growth Lab member, you’re all about creating a successful life and you’re already putting in the effort to make this happen. Yet, subconsciously, it’s possible to fear the success you are actually striving for.

Because success is scary. Fulfilling your true potential is scary. Why? Because it’s unknown territory. And we’re practically hardwired to label anything unknown as scary. Like those who procrastinate because they fear failure, you can keep yourself safe from facing your true limits by avoiding opportunities and putting things off.

Maybe you’re afraid of success because you fear your friends or family will reject you if you have a totally different lifestyle compared to them.

Maybe you fear success because you know you’ll have to drop some old behaviours and habits, which can lead to rejection by certain people in your social circle.

Maybe you fear success because you’re afraid of getting more responsibilities and expectations.

Maybe you fear success because you don’t actually feel worthy or capable of handling success.

Once again, you don’t have to feel ashamed if you can relate to any of these type of fears. The important thing is that you identify and accept them. Because only then you’ll be able to overcome them.

Fear #4: Fear of Ridicule

This is a more subtle form of the fear of rejection, but it’s still a massive limiting factor for many people around the world.

Maybe you want to start a YouTube channel or record a course, but you’re afraid of how you’ll look in front of the camera. Maybe you want to start a business that some of your friends or family don’t understand. Or maybe you have certain interests that some of the people around you make fun of. In many cases, we fear that the things we do, say or like will be ridiculed and made fun of by other people. This fear will be even bigger if it concerns the opinions of our friends and family.

The fear of ridicule has certainly been a massive subconscious fear for me. When I just started making content about self-development, I didn’t have that many followers on YouTube or Instagram. Some of my videos only had 2 views.. That’s some embarrassing stuff. I feared that some of my friends and family members would see it and that they would think I looked like a fool. When you have a YouTube channel with 37 subscribers and a bunch of videos that aren’t that good, it’s hard to stay motivated and not let the fear of ridicule kick in. Especially when some of your friends don’t give you any positive feedback at all.

I hope this article helps you if you find yourself facing fear. The key point here is to face your fears so your can become fearless!

Sharon R.