Fear is a driving force for much of human behavior. Studies show that most people will do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure. Pain is a significant component of decision-making.
Learning to overcome fear has numerous advantages and makes life more fulfilling. Imagine making a decision based on achieving what you desire rather than avoiding what you fear.
Common Fears that Drive Us
- Fear of failure
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of physical harm
- Fear of Flying or Height
- Fear of public speaking or public places
- Fear of financial challenges
- Fear of exam taking
- Fear of losing a loved one
- Fear of being alone
- Fear of letting others down
Our fears control our behavior.
If there’s something you want to do, but don’t, fear is likely the cause. Mediocrity is one of the primary symptoms of a life directed by fear. How much does fear drive your decisions? If you’re being honest with yourself, fear is a significant part of your life.
Fear leads to less than optimal decisions and outcomes. When choices are made that accommodate fears, the best solution isn’t utilized.
When we avoid fear, our self-esteem takes a hit, too. We know what we should do, but we’re not quite “brave” enough to make it happen.
Fortunately, dealing with fear is a skill. Sure, some people are naturally more fear resistant than others, just as some people can naturally jump higher than others. But you can learn to feel less fear and learn to act despite fear.
Fear and the response to fear become habits over time. You can create new habits to bypass the fear response. New habits can also be developed to grow your courage.
“Don't let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don't like them.”
- Stacy London
What Are Fears?
For our purposes, let’s define fear as an uncomfortable feeling that inhibits your desire to do something.
Like all emotions, fear only exists within your body. It’s a self-generated discomfort. That physical discomfort encourages you to avoid the person, thing, or situation that triggers that uncomfortable feeling.
How do you experience fear?
Some common fear symptoms include:
Queasy feeling in stomach
Hot flashes or chills
Tightness in chest
These are all responses designed to keep you safe from a perceived danger. Unfortunately, most fear responses are misguided.
There isn’t a whole lot to fear in modern society compared to 10,000 years ago.
We have access to food, shelter, clothing, and few threats of violence. Nearly anyone with a job can be quite self-sufficient in any first-world country.
This hasn’t always been the case.
“Remember your dreams and ﬁght for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.”
How Are Fears Formed?
Some fears are natural. It’s been suggested that there are only two fears that are instilled at birth: the fear of losing your balance and the fear of loud noises.
A few fears may be a part of our evolution.
For example, it’s believed that the fear of rejection may have evolved. While we can take care of ourselves in most situations today, the same wasn’t true long ago. If you weren’t part of a tribe, you were doomed. Rejection by the group meant almost certain death. Now it just means you might have to spend the night watching Netflix by yourself.
While a baby might be startled from a loud noise, he isn’t the least bit alarmed by a tiger, heights, snakes, spiders, or crowds. These fears are learned. Babies don’t fear rejection or humiliation. These are learned, too.
Fears are developed through negative experiences. Perhaps you tried playing softball as a child and blew an easy out to first. Your teammates yelled at you, and now the thought of playing softball again makes you feel a little queasy.
These experiences are often imagined. For example, you might be afraid of heights because you’ve imagined yourself slipping and falling off the edge of a building. Or maybe you’re afraid of reaching out to others because you repeatedly imagine rejection and the resulting emotional pain.
Your negative experiences create your fears. It doesn’t matter whether those experiences actually happened, or whether you created them in your mind.
Fear Creates Challenges
Aristotle believed that courage was the greatest of all human virtues. Courage makes all the other virtues possible. Fears make life more challenging because you avoid doing those things that can make your life better.
Fear can impact your life in a variety of ways:
Prevent you from pursuing a promotion
- Prevent you from meeting the partner of your dreams
- Stop you from getting on a plane and visiting new places
- Make you avoid social situations
- Keep you from trying certain careers
Fears can be the origin of financial, social, and general life challenges. When you’re not doing the things you want to do, or the things you need to do, you’re going to suffer at some point.
Fear can lead to drug use, overeating, compulsive shopping, and other disadvantageous behaviors.
“When we tackle obstacles, we ﬁnd hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realize that these resources were always there within us. We only need to ﬁnd them and move on with our lives.”
-A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Silke Glaab (aka SilkCelia) is a psychologist (MA) who helps executives, entrepreneurs and experts to be more resilient to stress and dramatically improve their thinking and feeling so that they enhance their performance and leave a legacy in their companies, their lives and the world.
Silk uses rapid transformation therapy to help clients to transform the roots of a presented issue within minutes while using neuroscience to boost brain power and emotional intelligence to create mindful behavior and decision making in all areas of life.
Silk holds a master degree in psychology and has worked for over 20 years as a trainer, consultant and counselor in divers industries in Germany, Kenya, and Dubai. She is personally trained by the celebrity hypnotherapist Marisa Peer and the neuroscientist Prof. Dr. Kennedy.