When our mind and heart are taken over by fear, our life grinds to a halt. Fear debilitates us and blocks us from taking positive action to move forward. Fear can also be an insidious enemy. It can seep through our daily life unnoticed and unchecked.
We might not even realize that it has hacked its way deep into our subconscious mind until we totally succumb to its grip.
Most common forms of fear are unnecessary. This means that unlike instinctive fear – for instance the fear that helps you stir away from imminent danger – these types of fear are mostly a fabrication of our mind or instilled through past experiences.
Unnecessary fears can and must be identified and avoided. They serve no real purpose apart from hindering our actions, goals and progress in life.
Here are the top 10 types of unnecessary fears that should not block you anymore:
1. Fear of Failure
We all fear failing in something at some point in our life. Fear of failing in a job interview, a business venture, a relationship, reaching a goal and so on. The problem arises when it becomes a fear of failure in general.
The rational question is “how do you know you will fail before trying?” or “is failing to take action worse or better than failing after trying?”.
Some of the most successful people have a different perception of failure. They are detached from failure as though it has no consequence to their lives. In other words, failure does not say or imply anything about them or their work. It is only another important step towards their goals.
Say for example a job opportunity arises unexpectedly. This is the job you have been wanting for a long time. The personnel is awesome, salary is handsome and the conditions are just perfect. You are called for an interview. Pressure builds up as you fear you might lose the golden opportunity.
You fear failing. What do you do? How do you shake off that creeping fear knowing that it can only debilitate you and perhaps leave you stunned and lost for words when you face your interviewers?
One important thing you need to do is to let go go of thinking or putting too much importance to the outcome – the consequences.
Your mind could be telling you “If I fail this I would miss the only opportunity I had and I will be really disappointed with myself”.
Stop linking future outcomes to the event – the interview. Let go of any expectations and just focus your attention on the thing itself.
2. Fear of the unknown
This is probably the most common unnecessary fear. It’s not hard to fathom why. When something is unknown or unfamiliar – such as the future for instance – it poses a subtle threat. It becomes a fear and causes anxiety. Yet this fear or anxiety is clearly an irrational response to a situation.
It has no real definition or substance. It’s fine to be cautious about something unknown but fear of the unknown is only a way of missing out on the many opportunities and thrills life has to offer.
Pioneers in life such as explorers, entrepreneurs, leaders of movements and those with that crazy big idea in their heads have conquered the fear of the unknown. They did not settle to its hold. They have shed it away as an unnecessary block to their mission.
Like these pioneers you have to face the unknown with interest but not suspicion or distrust. Let’s say you are deciding to make a major life change – say quit your job to follow what you are passionate about. What’s next is unknown but should you believe that the future is waiting for you to rip you apart or should you trust your instincts and your heart telling you that it’s going to be fine? Think about it.
3. Fear of change
Another perennial type of unnecessary fear and one which is closely linked to the fear of the unknown. Fear of change brings inertia. It keeps us stuck to our comfort zone. A lot of the rewarding stuff in life comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and into the next level.
It requires the courage and resolve to accept what’s new and to let go of the mental and emotional attachments to the old.
Fear of change holds you back from shifting gears in life and moving forward. How many times in life have you feared change only to later discover it was so unnecessary because it all feels so good? You ask yourself “why haven’t I done this before…what was all the fuss about?”
It happened to me many times, changing careers, quitting my full time job, changing my lifestyle and so on. At first you feel you don’t have the energy or will to change. Then comes the turning point like the kid in the swimming pool learning to swim. She is holding with one hand to the pool’s border. She hesitates.Then something happens. A turning point, a sudden change in beliefs. She lets go of the border, plunges into the water and before she knows it, she is swimming unaided by nobody but her own will.
4. Fear of the haunted past
The past can be a ghost, haunting us at night in those sleepless and restless hours. We toss and turn in bed as we project past life episodes in the theatre of our mind. We even create fictitious parallel pasts – that is pasts that could have happened but did not. Learning from the past is necessary, fearing it is certainly not.
What is fear of the past anyway? It’s the fear of reliving certain negative emotions connected with your past such as guilt, regret, resentment amongst others. These emotions can be quite disturbing but their power over us can be dissolved if we consciously remind ourselves that the past has no place in the present. It is what it is – past.
Let’s say you have a regret that comes to haunt you every now and then from your past. It’s a regret of having done something wrong to a loved one or perhaps not doing a right thing. How do you vanquish that spectre from the past? By forgiving yourself and by accepting that you are a being with feelings and beliefs in constant change. The ‘you’ ten years ago was a different person than the ‘you’ now. The link between them is only in your head. Forgive that past ‘you’ for what it was and the link will be broken.
5. Fear of disapproval by others
As social creatures we have been brought up since a young age to regard others’ thoughts and opinions about us and what we do. It became part of our life’s equation. Stretched out of its purpose, considering what others might be thinking or feeling about you can become a stumbling block.
This is especially true when you fear that others might disapprove of your ideas, choices and behaviour.
When we were young we used to be afraid our parents, teachers or people in authoritative roles disapproving of us. At some point this can grow into lifelong concern and a mental attachment. When you try to constantly seek approval of others around you and live in fear of their disapproval you end up stalling action to authentic growth and self-realization.
Dump this fear as it is unnecessary and provides absolutely no benefit whatsoever. For instance, whenever you are taking a decision, such as changing your look or following a new lifestyle and you get the fear of being disapproved by your peers, catch yourself being fearful. Remind yourself that you are free and not chained to other people’s views.
Follow your heart and life will follow.
6. Fear of Rejection
In relation to fear of disapproval by others you can also fear rejection – especially rejection from those who are close to heart. The idea is that fear of rejection does not help you from not being rejected. It can only cause emotional blockage and withdrawal from naturally expressing your feelings, love and emotion.
Think about it. Fear of rejection only sabotages your freedom of feeling what you do and expressing it how you want. Will that help you to not be rejected? Certainly not.
Next time you want to open up to somebody but feel fear of rejection, tell yourself “people do not reject love or an open heart, they might only be temporarily blind to it which effectively says nothing about me or my feelings.”
7. Fear of losing control to others
People often feel miserable after feeling that they have been disempowered by others. They feel weak, hurt and lost. This can come out of a bad relationship, physical or verbal abuse and even ridicule.
The truth is that we never lose our power and control to others. We give it away.
This is an important point since it helps us remind ourselves that we do not need to fear others as long as we are true to ourselves and keep aware that our own power can only be lost to ourselves and not to others.
When you feel you are losing your power to others, for example in an argument with your boss at work, remind yourself that you are the only signatory of that transaction. You cannot lose your power if you don’t want to.
Put the argument aside and confront the person when you are emotionally recollected and more conscious.
8. Fear of more heartbreaks
Heartbreaks can form emotional scars and those scars can linger for many years to the detriment of closing us off to new relationships and experiences. What you need to understand is that past heartbreaks are only trapped emotional energy that needs to be let go of. Heartbreaks that happened in the past are no guarantee that they will recur in future.
Once the connection between past and future is broken the fear is dissolved.
When you fear that you will be heartbroken instead of getting withdrawn inside do exactly the opposite. Try to open your heart to the person or situation. Allow it to happen.
When you respond to situations with an open heart instead of fear, things will change dramatically and the relationship will open up in ways you never expected.
9. Fear of Success
This may sound strange, but yes, fear of success is far more common than you think. It’s not well known because it is a very silent fear. Fear of success is basically the fear of not being able to handle, or live up to, the positive change that comes from success.
It’s an obvious drawback since fear of success will impede success.
Many people have been at the door of succeeding in something but hung up on it at the last minute because of being afraid of it. Try to catch yourself being afraid of success for example when taking on a new responsibility or get awarded for some achievement.
Tell yourself that you are up for the challenge of what comes after and cherish the success as you live it day by day.
10. Fear of Loving
Of course this is a well known fear. It is also one of the most unnecessary and counter-productive since it holds us from opening our heart to others and possibly finding happiness. Fear of loving is born out of a combination of other fears, such as fear of rejection, fear of heartbreaks and fear of success.
The obvious drawback of this unnecessary fear is that it holds you from giving and receiving love – one of the strongest currencies in personal affairs.
If you feel you are afraid to express love to somebody, imagine two simple scenarios. One where you give out love, it is reciprocated and you are both happy. The other is where you refrain from loving (because of this or that excuse) and that love remains forever a lost chance for happiness.
Both are hypothetical but you have the power to make one of them actual. Which one would you choose?