Have you wondered how you could overcome fear?
What would your life be like if you were in complete control of it?
Living completely without fear might cause you to be reckless, but living in complete control of it – able to do everything in your personal and professional life that you wanted to, unhindered by this insidious emotion would allow you to be the person you really want to be.
Because if you think about it, it’s almost always only fear that holds you back.
When I thought about it, fear kept coming back as the one thing standing in our way. It was the thing that if I could really, truly help you with, could transform your life.
That’s why I wanted to provide you with a huge resource book – the equivalent of plunking a giant tome on your desk – (don’t worry, this one’s not boring) so you have at your disposal the tools you need to fight back against fear – and win.
Of course, there’s millions of articles out there on this topic, and while I couldn’t search them all, of course, I’m confident that everything I did bring you is interesting and useful. My goal isn’t just to throw a bunch of articles at you, but to really help you begin to overcome fear once and for all.
Fear – Five Basic Forms
Physicist and executive management consultant Dr. Karl Albrecht breaks fear down into five fundamental forms.
If you think about any fear, they really do fall into one of these five categories. But you’ll notice, in my resource book below, that I’ve included many more fears. Because while there are really only these five elemental fears, we humans have a knack for complicating things.
So for example, fear of success might actually be loss of autonomy (once I’m successful, I won’t have control over my schedule anymore, people are going to be telling me when and where to appear) fear of separation (if I’m successful, the people in my life now won’t be there for me anymore) or ego-death (if I’m successful, people are going to finally see that I’m actually a fraud).
The five elemental fears are:
Extinction – fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it the “fear of death”. The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.
Mutilation – fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body’s boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. For example, anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
Loss of Autonomy – fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or controlled by circumstances. In a physical form, it’s sometimes known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to social interactions and relationships.
Separation – fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness – of becoming a non-person – not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The “silent treatment,” when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on the targeted person.
Ego-death – fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
You can read more from Dr. Albrecht’s article here:
The (Only) Five Basic Fears We All Live By
1. General How to Overcome Fear:
We’re constantly looking for tools and resources that will help us get past fear. Try some of these out (including my guest post on Steven Aitchison’s blog!
How to Overcome Your Fear: 7 Tips from the Last 2200 Years
It’s Good to Feel Stupid: 5 Thoughts on Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt
How to Kick Fear in the Face
30 Days to a Better Man Day 29: Conquer a Fear
http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/06/28/30-days-to-a-better-man-day-29-conquer-a-fear/ (read this even if you’re a woman. And don’t miss the section on risk!)
2. Fear of Failure
Fear of failure is probably one of the most common things we’re afraid of. Whether we’re facing taking on bigger responsibilities, starting our own business, or anything else that puts us outside our comfort zone, we’re confronted with the idea that we just might not make it. Read these articles to get a better handle on overcoming fear of failure:
Overcoming Fear of Failure:Facing Fears and Moving Forward
Fear Of Failure: Why It’s Essential To Success
The Truth About the Fear of Failure and You
Do You Let The Fear Take The Wheel And Steer?
3. Fear of Success
I find fear of success very interesting.
Some people wonder, why would anyone ever be afraid of success?
But like any big change in one’s life, success can bring newness and uncertainty. Questions like “will my old friends still be there for me?” or “Now what?” arise, and with those questions, comes fear.
And some people would just as soon avoid that particular fear than face it. If you keep pulling the rug out from under yourself to avoid success, read these articles to begin to mend that relationship:
Overcome the Fear of Success: 6 Ways to Start Thriving
How to Overcome Your Fear of Success!
5 Reasons Why People Have a Fear of Success
How to Overcome the Fear of Success
Three Undeniable Dangers of Success
4. Making Mistakes or the Wrong Choices and Fear of Commitment:
“If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum.”
How to Overcome Fear of Mistakes: One Coach’s Story
The Antidote to Criticism: Turn Others’ Doubt Into a Standing Ovation
The Miracle of Making Mistakes
Are You Afraid Of Making Mistakes?
How To Overcome Your Fear Of Commitment
5. Fear of Saying No:
Fear of saying no is an affliction for many of us. It may be looked at as fear of confrontation, fear of disappointing or displeasing others, or a fear of appearing to be rude or an otherwise not nice person. But when you can’t say no to people or things, you end up being unable to say yes to the things that really matter in your life.
You also have to live with the anxiety of contorting yourself to other people’s whims, and the impossibility of pleasing everyone. Being solid in yourself and your beliefs, and letting go of the fear of what it might mean to displease others is an incredibly liberating outlook on life.
To gain that inner peace by releasing the fear of saying no, read these:
Can’t Say “No” to People?
How to Say No For Maximum Productivity
Let Go of Fear and Guilt and Say “No”
The Art of Saying No
5 Ways to Overcome a Fear of Confrontation
Grow A Pair! Overcoming Your Fear of Confrontation
6. Talking to Strangers, Public Speaking & Humiliation (Lack of Confidence):
“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
At its core, fear about what other people are going to think is really fear that other people are going to find out what you believe is really true about yourself – that’ you’re kind of a loser. This fear is based entirely on that false belief.
Because if you actually knew the truth – that you’re really very cool, you wouldn’t be so afraid of what other people are going to think. You’d know the truth and if one random person happened to have the wrong idea you’d recognize that it really isn’t about you – it’s about them.
Don’t believe me? Read on:
50 Reasons Why I Suck>
The Shy Person’s Guide To Talking to Strangers
The Fear Of Public Speaking – How To Overcome It
Shame! Embarrassment! Humiliation!
Fear of Public Speaking: the Fear that Stalls Careers
Build Unshakable Self Confidence At Work
This is similar to the fear of failure, but in this case the failure is very specific – you. You’re afraid of being turned down because “no” can feel like a rejection of you as a person. When you struggle with this fear, you might not put yourself out there very much, and your world starts to feel very, very small.
Read these articles for some help:
Fear of Rejection: Get Over It!
How to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection
100 Days of Rejection Therapy
>A really cool website – don’t miss this one: http://www.entresting.com/blog/100-days-of-rejection-therapy/
How To Ask For What You Need And Overcome Fear Of Rejection
8. Change, Loss & the Unknown:
We’re probably all afraid of change, loss and the unknown to some degree.
We humans love the status quo (or a guarantee of improvement!). In fact, loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains, and has been scientifically studied. I’m guessing it’s probably hard-wired for some good reason. But when fear of change, loss or the unknown starts to mess with your life in ways that aren’t helping you, it’s time to fight back:
Overcoming the Fear of Loss: 5 Steps to Get Unstuck
Leaders: 3 Ways To Overcome Your Fear of the Unknown
12 Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Change at Work
Why You’re So Afraid of Change (and What You Can Do About It)
9. Personal Growth Through Fear:
Is It Really Fear That Holds You Back?
On Doing The Things That Scare The Shit Out Of You
Using Fear as a Guide for Personal Growth and Happiness
10. Fear of Starting Your Own Business
“You have to do what you dream of doing even while you’re afraid.”
I know there are many of you out there who dream of starting your own business. But you don’t. Fear stops you.
Sometimes, fear is there for a good reason. If you haven’t thought through your business plan, or don’t have a clue about what you’re doing or why or how you’re going to make money, it makes sense to slow it down and think it through. It’s imprudent to think (and shame on the business coaches who encourage this type of thinking) that getting over your fear is the only barrier to starting your business.
But if you have a good idea, a plan, some savings or seed money, and a whole lot of fear, now’s the time to address the fear and get yourself moving forward:
Getting Over Fear On The Way To Becoming an Entrepreneur
31 Tips for Conquering Startup Fears
Five Keys To Starting Your Own Business – Key #1
Seth Godin on Conquering Fear to Start Your Own Business
How to Overcome Startup Fears
Here are some bonus articles – interesting ideas and perspectives that didn’t quite fit in to any categories above, but are not-to-be-missed!
8 Ways Overcoming Fear Can Improve Your Health
Fear In Sheep’s Clothing
Eliminate Fear With 4 Personal Development Questions
The Fearless Living Myth Debunked (my guest post on Motivational Memo)
Hope and Fear in Blogging and Life
I’m Scared, But That’s OK
5 Paralyzing Fears You Have to Ignore (If You Want to Expand Your Comfort Zone)
The Good News
After all this talk about fear, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed and worried that you have more than a little work to do. But here’s the good news:
Fear can be used like a tool. When you’re afraid of something, it can mean you’re moving in the right direction, because you have to move through your comfort zone to get to that next level for yourself.
Imagine there’s a shiny brass ring about a hundred feet away from you. It’s beautiful, and you really want it. The problem is, you have to walk across hot coals to get it. The same is true for any achievement or area of growth in your life. It’s gonna be scary. So if you feel the fear, it’s a fairly good indication that it means you should go for it.
And if you’re having trouble deciphering between a fear that means you should go for it and a fear that means “this is all wrong for you” – I’ve got a resource for that too:
The Great Intuition Hoax
And there’s more good news.
If you’re afraid, you’re not alone.
In fact, even people who are successful are still afraid. So stop living as if this fear thing is going to go away. It’s not. Get a move on with your success, now!
[Tweet “Successful people are still afraid. So stop living as if this #fear thing is going to go away.”]
We all live with and struggle with fear. So I’d love to hear your personal stories.
How do you struggle with it? What has helped you cope? Is there an important one I didn’t talk about? And what can you share that might help someone else reading this?
If you know of even one person who is struggling with or being held back by fear in some area of their life, please go ahead and share this article.
Whether you post it on your Facebook page or email it privately, it doesn’t matter. My goal for this post is to help as many people as possible shift their thoughts on how much fear has to control their life so that we can all grow into the people we’re here to be.