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Published on February 10, 2020

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

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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 May 22, 2020

Think Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead

Think Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead

Positive thinking is one of the most touted philosophies in the world. The advantages of positive mantras have been presented by authors and motivational speakers around the world. However, value affirmation may be more effective.

Do these techniques really work? Why would repeating a simple, positive phrase change the way you think and feel? Those are the questions we’re going to dive in to.

Decoding Positive Thinking

Positive thinking[1] is about developing our mindset in such a way that we expect good and favorable outcomes from events in our life. In other words, it’s the process of transferring our energy into reality by thinking optimistic thoughts.

This doesn’t mean we are unrealistic about the possibilities. Positive thinking is about recognizing all of the possible outcomes but choosing to focus on those that are positive and offer improvements to our lives.

Does Positive Thinking Work?

While many people believe that positive thinking leads you to the path of happiness, there are others who think otherwise. Both sides have put forward many compelling reasons supporting their views. While the argument may never end, the detractors have many reasons to believe that positive thinking, in isolation, doesn’t do much for our mental health. Here are some ways positive mantras can backfire.

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How Positive Mantras Can Do Harm

While positive mantras can be a good addition to a routine when understood, there are some downsides that you should be aware of.

1. Suppression of Negative Emotions

If we use positive mantras [2] too frequently, it might work for a shorter period, but in the long run, it may cause adverse consequences. Why?

When we use a positive mantra, it tends to suppress our negative emotions. If it continues for an extended time and becomes a habit, then we might be overwhelmed by even more negative feelings at times when the results are not as expected, as there should be a balance between positive emotions and negative emotions in life. The balance of positive and negative feelings in life is what helps us to accept challenges and overcome them.

2. Actions Speak Louder Than Mantras

Additionally, uttering positive mantras in our life might work sometimes, and also, to channel the energy into reality, utter faith and absolute belief are required. However, the mantras most definitely prove themselves useless if we just keep chanting positive mantras but fail to put into action the message that the mantra is supposed to convey.

As a consequence, we might be caught off guard by negative vibes and feel highly frustrated because our mind will immediately conjure up many negative thoughts.

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For instance, if you believe that a perfect body is the one with well-toned abs and biceps, and you keep on insisting that you have a perfect body, then your mind will start searching for the so-called negatives in your body. You will be insecure about the little bit of belly protruding out, your waistline, and even your arms. This will make you more insecure about your body and will depress you even more.

3. Production of Delusional Thinking

A fact is a fact; it won’t change irrespective of the situations and time and won’t change even when you utter positive mantras your whole life. For example, if you are a little short on money, you aren’t going to miraculously solve your financial problems just because you utter positive mantras a million times. It will be much better if you accept the reality and work towards dealing with it.

For example, if you have loan problems, you should work on personal budgeting instead of living with a false sense of security. This will make you happier in the long run.

Let’s take another scenario as an example. You have an exam tomorrow, and you are not prepared well. You’re time would be better spent studying the information you’re lacking rather than repeating a positive mantra to convince yourself that you will be fine. Ultimately, the positive thinking will help you feel more confident on the answers you already know, but it won’t conjure up information you didn’t study for. Conjuring fantasies to wrap up reality is no way to answer any question in the real world.

Hard work is key to success in our life. If you have worked hard, then despite all the negative thoughts that might surround your head instinctively, you are going to perform better. However, if you haven’t put in enough work, then no matter how many times you say that you are going to be successful, it won’t be enough.

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4. Increase Low Self-Esteem

A study has also shown that positive thinking works well if you have very high self-esteem. However, if you have low self-esteem and utter positive mantras, it will only strengthen your negative mindset when there are met by set-backs[3]. This will result in many negative feelings.

For example, if a good football player believes that he is going to be the best, then it will act as a buffer to help him perform to his potential. However, if a player with low self-esteem thinks that he is going to be the best player in the world, he will get discouraged when he realizes he isn’t doing as well as he hoped.

Alternative to Positive Mantras

If you are a believer in positive mantras, and you are beginning to doubt its functionality, what will you do? Don’t fret, because there is another theory called value affirmation that might help you.

What is Value Affirmation?

First of all, values are the beliefs which we think are desirable and ideal. Our values are dynamic as they are changing and reshaping as we experience new things in our life. Therefore, it is necessary that we update our values constantly so our objective in life resembles the values we believe in.

If we are aware of our values, it will help to maintain balance in our life. If there is an imbalance between our value and aim, it will undermine our motivation to do things. Hence, value affirmation is recognizing and defining the values we believe in rather than repeatedly saying positive sentences that may or may not hold significance for us.

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Do Value Affirmations Work?

In a recent survey[4], students in one of the universities were chosen randomly to write about their values. Those students who were selected performed very nicely in their college years in comparison to those students who had not taken part. This was repeated again with the same success in the Hispanic community and African-American community.

Therefore, the next time you find yourself chanting mantras to assure you that everything is going to be fine, stop. Instead, try to recognize your deeply rooted values and check whether your values are in balance with your actions and goals.

The Bottom Line

Positive mantras can be a great addition to a regular meditation practice or a good technique to use if you are secure in your self confidence and direction in life. However, if you’re feeling lost or having trouble tracking down your motivation, value affirmations may do more to help you as they’ll force you to take a good look at what really matters in your life.

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Featured photo credit: Kazi Mizan via unsplash.com

Reference

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