The Faces of Fear

 

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We all have been introduced to FEAR. We know what it looks like and we know how it makes us feel. However, have you ever wondered about the origins of fear?  I know this might sound a little odd, but have you?  I do.  Fear is always waiting to infect your thoughts and find a place to dig in.  Fear is the enemy of self-confidence because it can become deadly. If you are a self-confident person chances are you face your fears with action. But what about those of us who might need a bit of help with this challenging dilemma? Procrastination is the child of fear, and when you find yourself procrastinating, stop and ask yourself “What am I afraid of?” Chances are that your fear is a result of one or more of the following common fears.  Recognize any of these?

  1. Fear of Failure

It’s pretty normal for any human to wonder about failure.  There is a possibility of failure that must be factored into every action.  This particular type of fear has its origins in the misconception that everything you do has to be 100% successful.  That sounds like “perfect” to me and we all know that perfect we are not.  When you do adequate preparation you can reduce the possibilities of failure significantly.   Besides, it is after failure that you have the opportunity to assess and make corrections and try again.

  1. Fear of Success

Oh wow!  Becoming successful is an amazing accomplishment, but it has its fear factor.  What if you can’t maintain your success?  What if it was just luck?  Successful people have huge responsibilities to maintain especially when the lives of others are depending on them.  This type of fear is based on the idea that success is likely to mean more responsibility and attention, coupled with pressure to continue to perform at a high level.  This is true.  Welcome to the real world.  Your success was a result of hard work over a period of time.  While on this success journey, no doubt you have collected tools along the way.  Trust in your abilities and the lessons learned and you can utilize this type of fear to move forward.

  1. Fear of Being Judged

Nobody is comfortable sitting in the judgement seat.  However, take a look at your judges.  It’s probable that you are feeling the need for their approval and that more than likely this need was developed in childhood.  As children we always enjoy the “at-a-boy” we received whenever we did something wonderful or correctly.  However, as adults that kind of approval can be a trap.  People can be baffling!   Judgement usually has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the judge.  If you have become successful at a particular thing, the judge might be resentful based on their own “stuff” and judge you harshly as a result.  That judgement doesn’t mean what you have accomplished is worthless.  This will require some internal work of your own, but you must learn not to place too much value in others opinions.

 

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  1. Fear of Emotional Pain

I think you know this one all too well.  Nobody wants to get hurt, but inevitably it happens.  We are human and as such we put ourselves out there every day.  Emotional pain is always a possibility.  Sometimes we are hurt because we made a bad choice.  Maybe this time the pain wasn’t due to any lack on your part.  This type of fear is rooted in wanting to avoid potential negative consequences of your actions.  But, without the negative the positive doesn’t develop well.  If things always went your way, the need to do better, to learn more would not thrive.  Sometimes you have to be vulnerable, willing to risk pain in order to grow.  This is called living.

  1. Fear of Embarrassment

I know this one.  Embarrassment can become a show stopper.  This type of fear is a result of empowering others to judge you when you demonstrate that you’re only human by making mistakes or having lapses of judgment.  Embarrassment doesn’t have to be crippling or feared.  Proper planning builds confidence in actions.  You will make mistakes and as a result there might be a few embarrassing moments.  Embrace them with the full understanding that there is always an opportunity to improve and get back in the game.

  1. Fear of Being Abandoned/ Being Alone

Abandonment hurts and we try to avoid anything that has the potential to hurt. This type of fear is related to rejection and low self-esteem.  As children we had simple needs, to be loved, cherished and safe.  When someone close to you fails to provide those needs it hurts and the wound it leaves will remain covered by this fear of abandonment.   If you are a Christian, then you know that you are never alone.  The universe is always there welcoming us.  Abandonment issues must be examined and resolved in order for the wound it created to be healed.  If this is your fear, I advise you to seek the support of a professional to help you resolve and heal your wounds.

 

 

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  1. Fear of Expressing Your True Feelings

Sometimes the simplest task can be difficult.  Someone asks your opinion about something and instead of honesty you avoid sharing your true feelings.  This type of fear holds you back from engaging in open, honest dialogue with the people in your life.  It’s because you have a need to fit in with the crowd.  Perhaps your purpose for being is not to fit in but to stand out.  I know sharing true feelings can be difficult but it must be done.  Don’t build a life with an “iffy” foundation.  In order for relationships to thrive they must be created on truth and that truth includes feelings.

  1. Fear of Intimacy

This fear is similar to number 7, but can be even more frightening.  This is about sheer vulnerability.  This type of fear manifests itself by an unwillingness to let others get too close, less they discover the “real you.”  Low self- esteem is an active ingredient in this assumption that you are not good enough to be loved or liked.  That you somehow feel the need to wear a mask when in the presence of others is disheartening.  People will either love us or not.  Who we are is who we are.  There’s no shame in representing yourself authentically.  People who wear masks are trapped wearing them for fear of being exposed.  Imagine the stress that causes and the tremendous injury it inflicts on your self-esteem.   Take off the mask.  It’s so much better to be you than pretending to be someone you are not.

  1. Fear of the Unknown

This fear has gotten so many people stuck.  This type of fear manifests itself as needless worry about all of the bad things that could happen if you decide to make a change in your life.  Here’s what I have learned over my life.  If you never try, you will never know!  Just do it!

  1. Fear of Loss

I know this one too.  Losses can be devastating and if you are not careful you won’t survive.  This type of fear is related to the potential pain associated with no longer having something or someone of emotional significance to you.  I can’t tell you that you will get over your loss, but I can tell you that you will learn to live in spite of it.  We all have a resilience inside of us that when needed takes over until we are strong enough to handle it ourselves.

 

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By identifying your fear, you are more than halfway to conquering it. Action is the cure for fear. In most cases, you’ll choose wisely and your fears won’t be realized. In the cases when you choose poorly, you’ll find that failure isn’t as devastating as you’d feared.  You open the door to success when you learn from their failures. By taking action on your fears, it’s a “Win- Win!” You win if you make a good decision and things work out. You also win if you make a bad decision and things go poorly, because you have an opportunity to learn from your decision and the subsequent problems you faced.

In summary, successful people are self-confident. Self-confident people face their fears and act.  They look fear straight in the eye and keep it moving!  Procrastination is the physical manifestation of fear and when procrastination shows up, figure out what scares you about the situation. Is it fear of failure? Is it fear of success? Is it fear of rejection? Is it fear of being embarrassed? Is it fear of the unknown?  You get the point.  Don’t let fear stop you from living your best life. Figure it out and then act. Admit your fear to yourself, embrace your fear and then take action.  Remember, action is the cure for fear.

Beverly Jones-Durr is known as the “Clarity Coach” because she teaches clients, consultants and other service professionals how to eliminate the fog, remove the clutter and focus on their purposeful and intentional path.  She is the creator of Sistahs Unlimited, a program that teaches women how to develop their authentic selves and create action plans that are both attainable and measureable.  You can follow her on Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube.