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The Fear Factor

Fear can keep people from reaching their goals. Unfortunately it holds people hostage on an unconscious or subconscious basis. If a client is resistant to change, I assess the “fear factor.”

Fear is an immobilizer–hence, the common description “paralyzed by fear”. When people want to change their life it’s important to spend some time reflecting on what they fear most about completing the goal. Many people don’t have a conscious understanding of their fears. Often, when I ask, what do you fear most about reaching your goals I hear “I want my goal more than anything in the world. ” Or “It would make me happy to lose 30 pounds.” Or “I can think of nothing I’m afraid of when it comes to finding a life partner.” Consider the following examples:

Fear of Being Hurt
Two weeks ago I wrote about the man who refused to let go of his ex-wife and move on with his life? It was the fear of being hurt again that kept him stuck in limbo.
Fear of Success
When a client desperately wants to pursue a new career or initiate their own business, they frequently stop at the wall of fear, which keeps them from being successful. Why? They fear they will be successful. As silly as that sounds, people with low self-esteem do not believe they can accomplish success; therefore, they fear the inevitable.
Fear of Trust
I recently worked with a woman who desperately wanted to find a life partner. She felt that her 40 extra pounds kept her from looking her best. She believed that she would need to lose the weight before she would achieve the confidence to date. After she completed her “Fear Assessment”, she discovered that her weight served a very important purpose. Several of her answers indicated what she feared most.

1. “I fear not being good enough.”
2. “I fear being rejected.”
3. “I fear being hurt.”
4. “I fear having sex.”

When we explored Nos. 3 and 4, she reported that she had been sexually abused from ages 6 to 9 by her stepbrother. In retrospect, she overate to cope with her feelings. Her obesity protected her from the attention of men. Unconsciously, she feared an intimate relationship with a man because her trust had been violated at such an early age. Her weight served as a protective shield and kept her from being hurt again.

If you consistently find that you have a goal that seems insurmountable, check your “fear factor” and see what comes up as a result. Here’s the structure you may need to achieve maximum results:

  • Find a quiet place to reflect on what you want out of life.
  • Write down a goal statement.
  • Then write down 20 free associations regarding your Then write down 20 free associations regarding your fears. “What I fear most about achieving this goal is…”
  • Allow the subconscious or unconscious to work for you.
  • Give it about a week. This time, before you write down your fear-based answers, acknowledge to yourself that your fears have likely served you well and protected you in some unconscious way. (By doing this you will be acknowledging the protective nature of your unconscious.
  • Now, repeat the exercise.

What you will typically find is that your answers reveal a deeper truth. You will have a new respect for how your fears have served you well. Once you understand them you can begin to build in the needed security and move past them to accomplish your goals.

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