“Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.”
– William Shakespeare
Fear can be defined as an anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of imagined, stories, events and experiences. Most of our fears are about the future.
When I took speech in college, I was excited and eager to learn. I’ve always been social and outgoing and I’ve lived a challenging and adventurous life. I thought my stories would interest and help others. I was ready to share.
The first time I stood up in front of the class, I was anxious and nervous. After about five minutes, I couldn’t go on. In front of everyone, my voice cracked and I began to cry. I quickly returned to my seat. I thought I would die from embarrassment.
I did not. I finished the class with a B and five years later, I wrote a book and joined Toastmasters. I learned how to be more confident, craft stories and hold the attention of an audience.
I went on to speak professionally to large audiences. My specialty was happiness in the workplace. If I would have quit after that first speech, I would have never progressed.
When we ignore and deny our fear, we become stuck in safety, misery, procrastination and predictability.
The key is to name, understand and embrace fear and then take smart actions steps to overcome it. The only way out of fear is through it.
10 Fears and Steps to Resolve Them
1. Fear of intimacy
You are afraid of commitment, allowing others to get close to you or you fear getting too close to others.
Action step: Honor who you are, take off your mask, be vulnerable and reveal the real you. Commit to more offline face-to-face connection.
2. Fear of public speaking
This is the fear of humiliation, being ridiculed, looking stupid and making a mistake or being judged.
Action step: Join Toastmasters. Research, write and prepare your first speech. Practice, practice, practice. Give your first speech in front of family or close friends. Don’t worry, you won’t die.
3. Fear of forgiving others
You fear being hurt again. You’re attached to your story and being right. You think if you forgive someone, they win and you lose.
Action step: Stop reliving what happened. Write down the payoff for your resentment. Be willing to let go of the past. Forgive, bless and move on.
4. Fear of success
You fear making mistakes. You fear the added responsibility that success will bring. You fear people may expect something different from you.
Action step: Figure out your big why and remind yourself of it often. View mistakes as learning opportunities. Learn to expect the best. Believe that the best is yet to come.
5. Fear of networking
You are uncomfortable being in groups. It’s a fear of not feeling good enough, smart enough, or very physically attractive. You fear drawing a blank or not having the best social skills.
Action step: Networking is more than being social. It’s about building relationships and connection. It’s a skill to be learned and practiced. Research it, talk to others about it, practice it and make it fun.
6. Fear of being broke
You believe in lack and scarcity. You focus on not having enough. You’ve probably survived being broke before. The worst case scenario is you’ll have to do it again.
Action step: Make a list of people who would help you if you go broke. Stop paying attention to all forms of negative media or you’ll end of believing the world is coming to an end. Believe the world is plotting to do you good. Look for proof.
7. Fear of not being good enough
You feel separate from and less than others. This kind of suffering comes from comparing yourself to others. Put yourself on equal ground. That’s where you belong!
Action step: Own your brilliance and greatness. Build your self-confidence by doing scary things. You don’t have to change a thing to be good enough.
8. Fear of rejection
This fear begins in childhood. When someone rejects you, it’s about them, how you react is about you. Rejection doesn’t mean that you’re unlovable. It means something or someone isn’t the right fit.
Action step: Go back in your mind and tell your younger self that everything will be OK. Figure out how you reject yourself. Learn to treasure who you are.
9. Fear of learning something new
You feel inadequate. You don’t believe that you’re capable. You believe that doing new things has to be a struggle.
Action step: Make a list of your past successes. Get a mentor. Learn something fun. Take a dance class, cooking class or learn how to play a musical instrument. Give yourself permission to be a beginner.
10. Fear of failure
Fear of failure is fear change and fear of the unknown. If you don’t act, you’ll miss out on marvelous opportunities. Every successful person has experienced failure.
Action step: View life as a bold and wild adventure. Life is stuffed with beauty and tragedy. Stay present and breathe through it all. Hold onto your seat and enjoy the ride.