4 Fears That Are F*cking up Your Life.
Fear. We all have it. And it’s great when it keeps you safe. Safe, as in, alive.
That intuition that keeps you from walking down the dark alley late at night or keeps you at a distance from a bear you encounter in the wild rather than approaching and petting it.
So yeah, in many cases, fear is healthy. It’s a biological reaction to keep us safe and not endanger ourselves unnecessarily.
The problem arises when fear paralyzes you from living fully. Fear keeps you from traveling to that destination you’ve been dreaming about for years. You fear it’s too extravagant, too expensive, you don’t deserve it, or something bad might happen if and when you go there. You fear it won’t live up to your expectations anyway, so it’s best to leave it.
Fear stops you from starting the business, making the art and doing the work you desperately want to share with the world. Fear shouts that failure will hurt, you’ll make many mistakes, people will judge you or not like you.
Fear hangs over your head like a threateningly dark cloud. Even when something good (or great) happens, you’re secretly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Fear whispers in your ear you don’t deserve the loving relationship, the high-paying promotion, the bestselling book, the fulfilling career. Fear forecasts heartache and failure as eminent and inevitable.
It’s kept you silent and small for far too long. It’s time for you to shine. Now.
If fear is keeping you small in your life and your business, paralyzing you from achieving your dreams, it’s time for reality check.
Don’t pet the bears.
Don’t feed the fears.
Here are the four fears that are the worst perpetrators, secretly stealing your life force and draining your joy.
1. Fear of not being liked (people-pleasing, worthlessnes, not-enough-ness, unworthy of love or money or success, etc., unlovable, fear of intimacy): My dad was my hero, and he always will be, although I doubt his ex-wives feel the same way about him. Here’s a straight-up truth: Not everyone is going to like you. It doesn’t matter how nice, generous, kind or heart-centered you are, some people will still hate you.
I know, it’s harsh. Maybe it’s not hate, it could be anywhere on the scale from a strong dislike to a mild unease. The point is, not everyone is going to like you. Unless you’re Tom Hanks… everybody seems to love Tom Hanks. I mean, why wouldn’t you? Tom Hanks is awesome. And so are you. But still, no matter how hard you try or how far backwards you bend in an effort to make others like you, some will not.
Some people will not like you, and that’s okay. Really, it is. You can stop pushing yourself to please everyone. It’s exhausting and energy-sucking. Just be you. Maybe that’s why Tom is so lovable. He’s just being himself all the time.
2. Fear of Failure (disappointment, mistakes, ridicule, fear of rejection, looking foolish, insecurity, self-judgment): For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to speak French. I took classes in high school and college, visited France, and even happened to marry a man whose first language is French (although there were many other reasons I married him).
While I can understand a lot of the language, when I open my mouth, the French words get stuck in my throat. My mind starts telling me I’m going to make a mistake and everyone’s going to laugh at me, so I keep my mouth shut. My silence has only made me look silly, my goal of speaking French has thus far failed.
You’re not going to get through this life without failure. Failing to try is the worst failure of all. Look fear in the face, and use failure as the navigational tool to take you to greater heights. The more you try, the more you learn, the more you succeed. So, more failures in a lifetime equal more successes.
Don’t get to the end of your life only to realize you missed out on living it. Bon courage!
3. Fear of the Unknown (misery, loneliness, fear of missing out, fear of success, fear that the other shoe will drop): If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would lose my dad to cancer and my husband in a car accident, I would have wanted life to end right then. The mere thought of the pain would have been too much to bear.
If I had been told I would be loving my life in spite of such loss and the pain endured transmuted to a deeper love and appreciation of life, I never would have believed them. But it all became a reality.
You don’t know what will happen. Yeah, that can be scary, but you also don’t know what adventures, joy and love are ahead of you either. You can choose to focus on the fears, but I guarantee you they will rob you of the good that life has to offer. Shifting to looking at life as a grand adventure allows you to filter through more joy.
The choice is yours. Let the unknown frighten you or intrigue you. Either way, the unknown will unfold.
4. Fear of Loss (death, divorce, broken engagements, ex-partners, ex-lovers, ex-spouses, past friendships): Both my best friends died in the same year. One was a great love and best friend I vowed to share my life with, the other was my father, who went through more than one nasty divorce during his lifetime.
I have a friend who was heartbroken after the woman to whom he was engaged left him unexpectedly for someone else, another who lost most of her belongings in a fire, and more than I can count who encountered some type of cancer. At some point in your life, if you haven’t realized this already, you’re going to suffer some loss. It could be through a death, a divorce, loss of health or loss of sense of self.
Yes, it sucks. It’s heart-rending. But here’s the thing: you can move through it. I don’t mean, get over it, forget about it, or otherwise ignore it. I mean, you can move through it. Yes, you. And the awesome part of it is, once you move through fears that have become a reality, you feel f*cking invincible to the petty fears that were formerly ruling your life.
So yeah, shit happened. It sucks, but don’t stay stuck. Let this be your badge of honor for getting through life and really living it. This is your opportunity to shine brighter than ever before, and be a beacon for others. It’s a choice you get to make again and again: drown in sorrow, or rise and shine. Sure, take some time for sorrow, just don’t stay there, the world needs your light.
Loss will come, don’t let the fear of it make you miss out on the moment and the wonder it holds.
By the way, those friends I mentioned who suffered great losses? Many are thriving now. That’s not to say their lives are completely perfect, it’s simply to show they moved through it. And they too gained a deeper appreciation for all life has to offer, sporting their own personal badge of honor in their hearts.
Beware! Letting go of fear will result in much less:
- Work stress/Letting work dominate your life
- Dating stress
- Worrying about the future
- Allowing nasty people to have even a smidgen of relevance in your life
- Letting critics make you doubt your judgment
- Doing things you don’t want
- Volunteering for things you don’t want
It’s time to rip the power of your self-worth out of the grip of fear. It never belonged there anyway. Return it to its rightful owner: You.
Acknowledge your own self-worth. Design and define the life you long to live, and begin creating it. Pursue your passions. Follow through with your dreams, learn from the detours and mistakes you make along the way. And keep going.
You’re already a lot further than you think.
And when it gets tough, rough or overwhelming, remember:
Don’t pet the bears.
Don’t feed the fears.
And hear the whisper of your heart: Success is inevitable.
Aimee DuFresne is a Joy Catalyst and soul-shifting creator, coach, traveler, and latte-lover. She is the proud author of Keep Going: From Grief to Growth, a memoir about love, loss, living in the moment, and the power of perseverance. With no home base, she travels the world with her wine consultant hubster, house and petsitting, while working on writing projects, including her next books. You could contact her via her website.