The Six Basic Fears

Do you avoid change? Most of my clients describe being overwhelmed by the thoughts of starting something new. They are not sure that their present-day responsibilities will be able to “weather” the personal, financial, and emotional changes that are likely to come as a result of the new direction in their lives. Fear keeps them from taking the plunge. It is normal to experience fear when it is time to bring about major changes in your life. However, it is not normal to allow fear to immobilize you.

Identify whether one of these six fears is holding you back.

  1. Fear of failure. This is perhaps the greatest of all fears. Fear of failure keeps people from trying new ventures. The fear that they may fail is too painful; consequently, they choose not to risk. People who fear failure may have had an overly critical parent who berated them when they did not achieve.
    Solution: You must develop a kinder, softer, nurturing side that openly gives yourself permission to risk. It requires a reframe that failure is a normal stage in achievement.
  2. Fear of embarrassment. People who fear embarrassment have typically experienced a time in their childhood that was humiliating in which they filed the memory and said to themselves, “I will never feel that way again or put myself in that position.” They become hypersensitive to any situation that could lead to embarrassment. No one wants to look foolish, and therefore sometimes it’s easier not to try than to be seen as grandiose, silly, or humiliated.
    Solution: People with this fear require a lot of self-talk.
  3. Fear of rejection. People who fear rejection have internalized the feeling and have low self-esteem. Their attempt to stay out of rejecting situations has kept their ego intact. Solution: Helping them to realize that rejection is about the other person helps them to move beyond this impasse. I may ask a client to set up situations in which they will experience rejection and practice using the statement, “This is not about me, this is about the other person.” This desensitization process helps them to recognize that rejection should not interfere with their sense of self. It takes a healthy ego to know that rejection is a normal part of life.
  4. Fear of hurting others. Clients may be fearful of trying something new for fear of how this will affect the lives of those around them. There is an old saying, “If you fail to plan, your plan will fail.”
    Solution: People who fear hurting others need to plan so that they can continue to meet the needs of others and still pursue their dreams.
  5. Fear of success. Some clients have low self-esteem and may fall into this category because they don’t feel worthy of success. They are afraid of how their life will be different if they succeed. They stay in the same old rut to avoid their own potential for greatness.
    Solution: Affirmations can be tremendously helpful in reprogramming your thoughts.
  6. Fear of the unknown. It can feel incredibly scary to not know how something will develop or work out. People who fear the unknown usually catastrophize and fear the worst instead of counting on the best. When this fear occurs, it may be helpful to remind yourself that “what is meant to happen will happen.” Many people put their fears in the hands of their higher power, which relieves them of the responsibility of carrying the burden of worry by themselves.

Fear is a tough feeling to work through, but when you do it, it makes you stronger.

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