Are Your Fears Holding You Back?
What would you do in life if you knew you couldn't fail?
What changes might you make in your life if you were no longer worried about what other people might think or say?
How often does the fear and uncertainty of the unknown stop you from doing things that you want to do?
Do you not put yourself out there when it comes to jobs, relationships or friendships because of a fear of rejection?
What if, instead of obsessing over the worst-case-scenario and things that you could wrong, you were focusing on the best-case-scenario and things that could well - would you make different choices?
Often we make choices based on our fears rather than based on our hopes. Whilst it is perfectly natural when planning for the future to think about things that could go wrong and to plan for potential problems, for many people, these thoughts about what could go wrong, then stop them from actually making any changes or going after what they want to in life. Effectively, the fears and worries about bad things happening, become disproportionate to the actual risk of those things happening. Even if those bad things did happen, often the outcome wouldn't be as disastrous as we had initially imagined. For example, a lot of people may fear:
- What other people will say and think of their choices or actions. Whilst, of course, it is always important to do things in a kind and ethical manner and to be considerate of how our choices and actions impact on others, worrying about someone judging you for changing careers or your friend not approving of your choice of partner, can eventually hold you back from making the decisions that would be good for you and your long-term happiness.
- Failing and not being successful. Whilst, there is a chance that you may fail at something, often failure is actually a chance to learn, grow and then start again with more information. So failure, in itself, isn't actually a bad thing. Also, however, there is also a good chance that you could be successful or make something work too, so not trying because of a fear of failure can really hold you back.
- The unknown. Many people may not leave a job or a relationship that makes them unhappy because they are not sure if they will find something better. The fear and uncertainty of the unknown stops them from moving on from something that isn't serving them. Often however, the unknown is far more scary in theory than in practice. Once you actually leave that job/relationship often you see that there is then a world of endless possibilities and opportunities.
- Something bad happening. When we venture out into something new, it is natural to feel some anxiety around it. Anxiety can however also make us more prone to jumping to and thinking about the worst-case-scenario and things that could go wrong. Worrying about all of the things that could go wrong when we are considering taking a new step in our lives can really hold us back from even taking that step in the first place.
- Rejection. We may worry about being turned down when we apply for a new job or try to find a new relationship or new connections and friendships. Often we can take rejection very personally, assuming that it means that we are defective in some way. However, you can be an amazing person and just not be a good fit for a particular job/relationship/friendship. Perhaps being rejected by a job or person is actually a good thing as you want to find a job/person that will value and respect you for just being yourself. Being rejected by someone/something also doesn't mean that you won't be a good fit for another job/relationship/friendship. Not moving forward with your life for a fear of rejection could stop you from finding those jobs/relationships/friendships in which you would actually be accepted fully just for being you.
- Success. Some people may actually hold themselves back from doing something for a fear of success. They worry about how their life may change if they were to actually achieve what they set out to achieve. Even this kind of positive change can be scary for us as it forces us outside of our comfort zone and what we consider to be safe and familiar.
So if you are finding that you are making a lot of decisions in your life based on fear, it can help to balance this out by asking yourself questions such as:
- Instead of "what if I fail" - "what if I succeed"?
- Instead of "what I get rejected" - "what if I am accepted"?
- Instead of "what if that will be scary" - "what if that will present new possibilities and opportunities"?
- Instead of "what is something bad happens" - "what if something good happens"?
Of course, it is helpful to plan for the future and things that may go wrong, but obsessively worrying about things that could go wrong can be very harmful and if you find yourself doing this, balancing these thoughts out with ideas around what could go well, can really serve you and your future.
What fears do you feel most hold you back in life? Are you making decisions in your life mostly based on your hopes or on your fears?