Your Fears Are Holding You Back

What are you afraid of?

I’ll give you a moment here to think of the things that scare you—maybe spiders, or heights, or being in the dark, or dying. (One of my biggest fears is falling, usually brought on by airplane turbulence, if that makes you feel any better.) Got it? Now toss that out, because of course we both know that’s not what I’m talking about.

What are you really afraid of?

You probably clicked on the link to this post because on some level, you feel unsatisfied with your life. Maybe you’re unhappy with your current job. Maybe you feel like your life is mostly satisfactory, but you’re stuck in a rut that you need to break out of. Maybe your life is great, but you still have a sense that there’s still something more out there that will bring you fulfillment.

Now I’ll give you a moment to think about the things you would like to do with your life—the dreams and goals you’ve accumulated over your lifetime but haven’t achieved. These could be dream careers, like performing on stage or owning a Fortune 500 company, or they could be one-time goals, like summiting Mount Everest or taking a cross-country road trip. All of these are achievable goals; in theory, anyone can learn to play an instrument, manage a business, or climb a mountain. So why haven’t you achieved them? What’s holding you back?

I’m no psychologist, and I’m definitely no mind-reader, but I do have an educated guess that answers that question: Fear. All of us have fears that overshadow and outweigh our dreams. These might be fears of failure, of losing relationships, or of regression. For the most part, we avoid those fears, shove them back and pack them away where we don’t have to look at them. Sometimes we may not even be aware that we have them. But these fears obstruct us and keep us from achieving our dreams.

As for me, I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid of outright rejection, of being judged and found wanting, of not being good enough, or not being as good as someone else. I’m afraid of feeling crushingly disappointed. I’m afraid of having to work hard at something to the point that I start to hate it. I’m afraid of getting bored or frustrated by something that I normally love to do.

The good news is that none of my fears are insurmountable. By knowing what our roadblocks are, we can plan how to avoid the things we fear—and how to survive them if we can’t avoid them. Try it for yourself. Take another look at your unfulfilled dreams and goals, and ask yourself three questions:

  1. What’s the worst that could happen?
  2. How do I avoid that?
  3. What do I do if I can’t avoid it?

The funny thing about this exercise is that by giving a name to your fears, they start to become less frightening. Often we get to the first question—what’s the worst that could happen?—and stop there. But by brainstorming solutions to a potential problem, we give ourselves the tools to overcome it. Examining our fears gives us the power to conquer them.

I’m tempted to end by asking you a question you’ve probably heard before: What would you attempt do if you knew you could not fail? But that’s not realistic, and really, it’s not the point. So instead, I’ll leave you with this:

What would you attempt to do if you knew that you could fail?

Posted by Calligraphie

I report from the trenches—I'm in the middle of my own journey to become the hero my life deserves. I feel I can best help others with their struggles and victories by writing about my own. None of us is alone! I love to hear from you. Drop me a line at or reach out to the team at!

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