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How to Identify and Overcome Your Fears That Hold You Back (To Move Forward)

Fear holding you back from being who you want to be? Here's how to make friends with it.

Face your fears.

Fear is the single biggest block for every human, everywhere. Why? 

Let’s start at the beginning, with the definition of fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat to you.

There is so much in this definition that I love. Firstly, it’s an “unpleasant emotion,” and humans are pleasure-seeking beings. We aim to avoid pain and seek pleasure, so if fear is an unpleasant emotion, it’s definitely something we won’t want to feel.

Secondly, it’s “caused by belief,” and a belief is simply a thought you choose to think over and over and then it feels true. Beliefs can be changed.

Before we dive deep into fear and how to overcome it (and trust me, we’re going to squash it), we need to draw a clear distinction between fear and danger.

Our Fear Reflex Hasn’t Evolved

Fear is designed to warn us when we’re in danger and a situation is life-threatening. You’ll experience fear if you’re swimming in the ocean and you see a shark’s fin coming toward you. So, why does fear show up when you’re not in danger?

Because fear is a physiological response that happens inside your brain every time you enter into the unknown or even think about entering into the unknown.

Fear shows up when you want to try something new, when you want to make changes in your life, when you want to grow your business, when you want to speak on stage, when you want to have a crucial conversation, when you want to set a new boundary, or when you want to do something huge with your life. Why? Because of evolution.

Even though it’s the twenty-first century, the part of our brain that houses our fear response hasn’t evolved at all. We are still operating with the same primal, reptilian part of our brain we’ve always had. It’s only concern is that you survive. The fear response is your mind’s way of keeping you alive, and it’s triggered by unfamiliar situations.

The irony is that for you to change your life from what you’re experiencing now to your desired reality, you are going to come up against unfamiliar situations. To your mind, that means potential death. Consciously, we know that is total bullshit. However, subconsciously our mind does not understand that. It means well, but the problem is that it’s blocking you from EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED IN YOUR LIFE.

Fortunately for you, you get to change your relationship with fear. You are more powerful than fear, especially once you fully understand it.

Falling in Love with Fear

Fear still comes around, it always will. Just because I understand it and am madly in love with it, doesn’t mean it has disappeared. On the contrary, we’re now working together. This is precisely why fearlessness is not a thing. Fearlessness is a myth and quite frankly I believe the use of the word is a disservice to us all. Because if you believe in fearlessness, not only are you still feeling fear, but now you also feel like something’s wrong with you because you’re not fearless after all.

Fear is physiological, it is part of the human condition and it will arrive, on cue, every time you are about to embark upon something unfamiliar. Every time you think about or start to move outside your comfort zone and into uncertainty, like the most dependable dog you’ve ever known, fear will be right there, by your side.

Now that you understand what fear is and why it shows up, you can see it for what it is and love it. In fact, when fear comes around, it’s confirmation that you’re changing. It’s the clearest indication that you are expanding beyond your comfort zone and creating a life that you are madly in love with. Fear means you’re making shit happen!

When you love fear, you break your resistance to it. Remember that when you resist something, it persists, it gets louder and more powerful.

Whether your fear response is triggered by something large or small, tangible or intangible, it doesn’t matter. You still need to fall in love with the fear and work with it to create new evidence in your brain so the unfamiliar becomes familiar.

This isn’t a one-off exercise. It’s something you will need to do time and time again because I know that you have many amazing changes and new experiences ahead of you. Every time you do it, it’s evidence that you are changing and progressing, so it’s worth celebrating.

When you choose to fall in love with your fears, and you diffuse them. You take your power back from them, and propel yourself into your limitless potential. 

The following is adapted from Worthy Human: Because You Are the Problem… and the Solution. For more advice on making friendship with fear, visit The Litt Factor.

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