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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

10 Biggest Fears That Hold You Back from Living Your Best Life

10 Biggest Fears That Hold You Back from Living Your Best Life

Has your biggest fear ever held you back from doing something that you wanted to do before? For anyone that is trying to be a better person in life, the answer is yes.

Most people bundle their biggest fears into one big scary package of nerves, anxiety and inaction. But what if I told that there wasn’t just one biggest fear, but lots of them? And that each of them can be broken down and solved, with a little bit of practice?

It is likely that fear is the number one thing holding you back from living your best possible life. This article will highlight the most common fears that people have that hold them back and how to overcome them.

1. Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is one of the most common biggest fear that hold people back from living their best life. In a world that puts successful people on a podium, there can be shame on those who fall short or even worse, try in the first place.

In the wise words of Anthony de Mello:[1]

“When the archer shoots for no particular prize, he has all his skills; when he shoots to win a brass buckle, he is already nervous; when he shoots for a gold prize, he goes blind, sees two targets, and is out of his mind. His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him.”

Get rid of your fear of failure, your tensions about succeeding, and you will be yourself. You will be relaxed and at your most able. You wouldn’t drive with your brakes on, and the same goes for life.

2. Fear of Success

One of the lesser-known but very common fears that might be holding you back is the fear of success. How can anyone fear success you might ask? Well, success has its own set of problems and fears.

Success can come out of nowhere, and change everything when you aren’t ready. Once you have success and get comfortable with it, it can vanish in an instant. People hold back not just because they are afraid of success, but because they are afraid of getting it and losing it.

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The solution is similar to that of the biggest fear of failure – you just have to live your own life and see what comes your way. Both success and failure are inevitable in any worthwhile endeavour, so relax and embrace both of them.

3. Fear of Loss

Fear of loss is most likely one of the most prominent and powerful fears that is holding you back. The biggest fear of loss often stimulates negative emotions like anger that stop you from being the person you can be.

Think of the last time you were angry and search for the fear behind it. What were you afraid of losing? What were you afraid would be taken from you? That’s where the anger comes from. Think of an angry person, maybe someone you’re afraid of. Can you see how frightened he or she is?

In order to get over this fear, you have to confront the fear of losing things so that you can actually enjoy everything that you love. You have to leave your attachment behind, so you can live with the joy of what you have.

4. Fear of Being Judged

This biggest fear is one that is known for keeping people in their shell, in their place and away from everything that they could achieve.

You might have heard the fable of The Man, the Boy and the Donkey. They were walking alongside their donkey to the market when a man scoffs at them and says that the donkey is a wasted creature if no-one is riding it. So, the man helps his son onto the donkey and before long they are interrupted by a woman, who can’t believe that a youngster with fresh legs would make his old man walk. Then, the man jumps on the donkey, and the boy steps off. They continue on, before a passer-by calls the man a lazy lout for making his young son walk.

Try and please everyone, and you will please no-one. You are going to be judged no matter what you do, so you may as well live your life as you want.

5. Fear of Losing Our ‘Identity’

Your identity might be something that you cling on to as if it were one of your most prized possessions – often without even realizing it. As humans, we weave these stories in our heads about who we are, what we want and what people like us do.

These stories are easy to create but very difficult to escape once set in stone.

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Abstract and mostly made-up concepts like careers and identities come into conflict all the time, and often blend into one as a sort of compromise.

The same is true in other situations. How could you ever just walk up to a pretty girl and start a conversation? You are the type of guy who is shy and keeps themselves to themselves. How could you ever take a day off when you are tired? You are a productivity machine that can never take a day off.

Having an identity can be reassuring for a short while, but it doesn’t take long for it shut every single door to change. If you are unhappy with where you are right now, it’s likely that there is a part of your identity that you are fighting fiercely to protect.

6. Fear of Losing Control

The biggest fear of losing control is another big fear that holds many of us back from living our best life. Many people substitute improvement and happiness with control and comfort, and that is where you can go wrong.

In order to be truly happy, truly free and live the life that you want, you have to be willing to surrender control. For anyone that wants to progress, playing the same video game level over and over eventually gets boring. At some stage, you have to take a leap into the next level and surrender the control and confidence that you had over the lower level.

A lot of people are falling short of their potential but they don’t mind because they are in control. In order to get over this fear, you need to accept that you never have total control anyway. Our plans are at the mercy of the weather. Our Friday nights are at the mercy of what our friends want to do and our lifespan is at the mercy of something outside of ourselves.

When you realise that you don’t have as much control as you thought to begin with, it makes it a bit easier to overcome the fear of losing a bit more control when the time is right.

7. Fear of Time

Fear of time is an entirely modern phenomenon that according to Psychology Today, only originated around 10,000 years ago. More specifically, it is the fear of not having enough time.[2]

Whether you worry about not having enough hours in the day or worry about how fast life is going by, these are forms of something called ‘time anxiety’.

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Time anxiety can lead you into habits and behaviors that leave you far short of living your best possible life. It makes you rush things that you should be relaxing and enjoying. It makes you agitated rather than content. Although it can make you more productive, you often act out of compulsion rather than freedom – and no-one wants that.

The best way to get over the fear of time moving too fast is to firstly, define what ‘time well spent’ means to you. Secondly, make more space for these moments and activities. Finally, cut out time-consuming distractions that take over your precious moments when you don’t want them too.

8. Fear of Who You Really Are

According to a research paper[3] on the subject, it is estimated that 70 percent of people will experience something that is known as ‘impostor syndrome’ in their lives. This is the condition where you don’t feel worthy or deserving of the success that you are receiving.

One of the main reasons impostor syndrome is so prominent is because no-one knows us better than ourselves. You know what your guilty pleasures are, you know what you secretly hate and secretly love. You know where you come short where others might think you excel and you know where you are better than what others give you credit for.

The good news for you is that everyone is in the same boat. Everyone has dark sides that they aren’t proud of, actions that they regret and shortcomings that they wish weren’t there. The difference between those things holding you back and you reaching your goals comes down to forgiveness and acceptance that who you are is more than enough. Broken pieces and all.

9. Fear of the Loss of the Known

Many people think that when we are scared of the dark, scared of the shadows or scared of making a big change in our life, it is because we are scared of the unknown.

It’s not that your biggest fear is fear of the unknown. You cannot fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known.

This response is perfectly natural. Back in our hunter-gatherer days, any loss of the known was almost always the path to certain death. Whether we found ourselves outside of our tribe, eating food we had never tried or anything else outside of the known, we were often in trouble. It is hard-wired into your brain to keep the known close at all times.

But you are no longer a hunter in the savannah. Your primitive mind doesn’t realize it but your higher, intellectual mind does. Your primitive mind sees any loss of the known as a threat, whereas your higher mind sees it as an opportunity to grow and learn.

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Whichever mind is louder in your head is likely to guide your actions – so feed the intellectual mind as much as possible.

10. Fear of What’s Next

Nobody knows what comes after this life, and all of the fears on this list can be whittled down to the biggest fear of dying and whatever is next.

It is common to purposely drown out your attention in the politics, stresses, worries and plans of daily life in order to avoid thinking about the bigger question. However, it is only when we come to accept our own mortality and stare it in the face that the fear of it starts to disappear.

While some people fear that thinking about this bigger truth will liberate them from all responsibility, that nothing they do actually matters and that they’ll live a life of apathy, the reality is that it forces action the other way – it scares them into responsibility.

It means that there’s no reason to not love ourselves and one another. That there’s no reason to not treat ourselves and our planet with respect. That there’s no reason to not live every moment of our lives as though it were to be lived in eternal recurrence.

It’s a big responsibility to be here, but life is too short and too precious to fear anything other than a life unlived.

Overcome Your Biggest Fear

Although there are biggest fear that can arise in your own personal path to greatness, each of them can be solved in their own unique ways. Ironically, your biggest fear is not something to be feared. Fear is a natural part of life and all fears have a source that can be discovered and overcome, one step at a time.

Featured photo credit: KAL VISUALS via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] goodreads: Anthony de Mello Quotes
[2] Psychology Today:Why People Worry Much More Than They Need To
[3] International Journal of Behavioral Science: The Impostor Phenomenon

More by this author

Daniel Riley

Daniel is a writer who specialises in personal development and helping others become the best version of themselves.

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Last Updated on January 19, 2021

How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations For Goal Setting

How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations For Goal Setting

When it comes to setting our goals we need to take a few things into account – what we need to do to start achieving our goals, how we’re going to achieve our goals and what our motivations are behind them.

For many of us goal setting can bring up a sense of anxiety which usually comes down to our limiting beliefs. These manifest as thoughts around our lack of ability, our current situation, expectations from others and comparing ourselves with other people’s lives. All of these results in us setting goals that may not be inlined with what we truly want and our motivations are not focused on our inner growth and development.

Limiting beliefs are usually those negative thoughts you have about yourself like thinking you’re just not clever enough or believing that you’ll fail. Ambition can be hard for a lot of us since limiting beliefs can make us think that high ambition will only lead to failure and disappointment.

But research says that aiming high and having big ambitions actually makes you happier and here’s why.

Ambition Is The New Happy

It’s typical for people to assume that with more ambition comes more risk of failure but this is actually a pessimistic view and one that probably belongs to someone who typically isn’t ambitious. Research has found that ambitious people generally tend to be more satisfied than those who have lower expectations.

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The outcome of several studies show that when people set goals, they have two factors in mind – expectancy (how likely you are to succeed) and value (what the process will do for you). When we set limiting goals or goals that are ‘safe’ and easy to achieve, we don’t get any value from them and get no real sense of achievement or satisfaction. In other words, people who focus on the value of the goal rather than the odds of being successful or not are much happier in the long term.

So to overcome self imposed limitations, the key is all about stretching yourself, aiming high while not focusing on the potential failures but also with a sense of belief that it can be achieved.

How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations:

When you think of a big goal you want to achieve what comes into your mind? Do you think you’re not good enough? Not smart enough? You don’t have the education or the money? Do you worry about what people will think?

If any of these crop up then they are limiting beliefs. These are usually a result of an accumulation of negative ideas, thoughts and beliefs that have built up over your entire lifetime. They most likely came from others, intentionally or unintentionally, as we made our way into the independent world.

The problem with these limitations is that they create thoughts that stop us from believing we are capable of achieving big things. They make us just settle for our lot in life and never allow us to go after anything that will benefit our happiness and sense of wellbeing. As you can see this is a pretty dangerous mindset as it manifests as fear that we’ll fail or be judged for going after what we truly want.

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1. Investing In Your Self-Development

It’s important to realise that happiness starts from within. If you find yourself having doubts about your abilities, then it’s worth looking into working on your personal development.

If you make excuses around your situation like the the town you live in is too small for good opportunities, you’ll put something off until next year when you might have more money, your family wouldn’t approve, or you’re just too old now, then these may just be excuses in disguise. Most of the time anything is possible. When we make excuses, they can be hiding a deeper issue of low self-confidence and self-limitations.

You essentially need to stop identifying with the limiting beliefs and don’t allow yourself to be defined by them. Working on your confidence, shifting your perspective and cultivating a positive mindset towards yourself and your goals will create a good basis moving forward.

2. Don’t Give In To Societal Pressures

This is a biggie when it comes to limiting our ambitions. There is an immense pressure to conform to social norms but what are social norms anyway? All they are, in essence, is an accumulation of other people’s opinions and ideas imposed on the masses who and has become some kind of universal rule that people should live by.

No one has the right to make you feel like you can’t follow your dream if that’s what will make you truly happy. People have their own lives to worry about so make sure you just stick to concentrating on yours.

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3. Don’t Listen To Negative Opinions

We can get very swayed by what other people think and say especially if they are close to us. It can have the power to stop someone going after their goals and this really is a sad state of affairs. By doing this we are giving our power to other people which naturally leads us to feel less happy.

Even when we’re on our goal journey, we can come across people who have negative opinions about your decisions which can lead us to question whether this is the right thing to do. The key is to understand whatever negative speak you hear, know that it is coming from people’s own fears, insecurities and issues. Make sure you surround yourself with positive people who support your goals and encourage you to carry on.

4. Break The Habit Of Assumptions

Assumptions are a huge ambition killer. Our limiting beliefs cause us to come to all sorts of incorrect conclusions based on what we think we know. But most of the time we don’t have all the information or we base it all on past experiences. We like to seek out examples in our lives for how it didn’t work before and apply this negatively to our new ideas and goals.

If this sounds familiar then you need to test your assumptions, and by this I mean finding ways and evidence that break the pattern of your self-imposed limitations. Take actions that test whether your past judgements and conclusions are actually untrue. By doing this you can build a sense of empowerment, give your mind proof and a different perspective on the situation.

For example, if you want to go back to studying but you think that, because you were never motivated at school, the same will happen again, then perhaps take a short course in something you’re interested in and see if this belief really is true. The chances are you weren’t motivated at school because you lacked any interest in what you were learning but now your priorities and interests have changed. By doing this you give yourself a chance to prove that what you believe isn’t actually true and gain self-empowerment.

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5. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Last but not least, we need to stop comparing ourselves to other people. We all have a tendency to do this and it only brings up dissatisfaction and a sense of failure if we see other people doing ‘better’ than us. Of course, this really is just an illusion. We are all on different paths with our own set of limiting beliefs that we’re battling with. It all comes down to assumptions again – we cannot know what is going on in other people’s lives so it really is pointless to compare ourselves to them. It’s really unfair to do this to ourselves since we’re making comparisons with something we don’t have full knowledge of.

Give yourself a break – understand that you really can achieve anything and all you’ve got to do is believe in yourself and believe it can be possible. So aim high and live a much more fulfilling and happier life.

Featured photo credit: Vijay Putra via pexels.com

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