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What Causes Fear?

Fear is tied with anxiety for the number one source of resistance to acting on your dreams. This fear has several causes, from the fear of failure to the fear of success, and everything in between. If fear is holding you back, you’re going to need to identify what is causing the fear before you can break through your resistance.

Types of Fear

Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. Fear is an emotion that we all experience, but it does not always have to be negative. There are three types of fear:

1) Phobias- these are abnormal fears of objects or situations (snakes or heights, for example) that can cause intense distress in the person when they encounter the feared object or situation.

2) Social anxiety – this is a fear of social situations and can cause people to feel anxious when they’re in group settings or meeting new people.

3) Generalized Anxiety Disorder – this type of fear causes excessive worry and tension about everyday things like health, money, family problems, work issues, etc.

The best way to manage your fears is to confront them head on. Often, you can identify the root of your fear by asking yourself these two questions:

1) What am I afraid of?

2) Why am I afraid of this?

This will help you better understand what triggered your fear and how to address it accordingly.

Sometimes, we need to dig a little deeper.

Fear is a powerful emotion, and it can be paralyzing. It can stop you from taking risks and reaching for your dreams. But fear is not your enemy, it’s your greatest opponent if you fail to face it.

It won’t define you, but if you let fear win, it will dictate the course of your life. So don’t let fear control how you live your life. Face it head on, take risks and go after what you want in life!

A Simple Exercise to See What Causes Fear

If you know what your fear is, you don’t need this exercise. But if not, it’s time to get a pen and paper and answer the following questions. Notice what feelings come up as you answer each question. Fear? Anxiety? When you find one or more that causes fear, you’ve found your answer. 

1.) What happens if you fail?

Does this question raise fear and anxiety? It probably does, as most people are afraid of failure, but if it’s not overwhelming, it might not be your primary issue. Regardless, answer the question. If you fail, what happens? Does the world end? Do you lose the chance to try again? Or are you just embarrassed?

2.) What happens if you succeed?

How will your life change? How will it stay the same? What’s the best outcome? What’s the worst? Pay attention to these questions, because you might be surprised to see what comes up in the way of fear – fear of success is almost as prevalent as the fear of failure!

3.) What will you lose?

Nothing comes free; we often have to give up something to change our lives. What will you lose by reaching this goal? Write everything down that you can think of. Be specific. Does anything on that list trigger fear?

4.) What will you gain?

Gaining new things can cause fear too, believe it or not. What do you stand to gain from reaching this goal? Write down specifics. How does it make you feel to contemplate this? Can you not list a specific, concrete thing? The latter may indicate a fear of the unknown.

This exercise can give you a good idea of where your fears around your goals lie. Once you know what they are, you can start to work through them and loosen their hold on you. If you finish this and still aren’t sure, you’re going to need to do some more introspection and possibly seek support to sort out the issue(s) behind your resistance. It may be harder for you, but you can do it.

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Florence Callender

Tuesday 5th of July 2022

Hey Michelle, this topic is so appropriate for these times in which we are living. I pray that as parents take steps to ease their fear, they will help their children do the same.

Michelle Garrett

Tuesday 5th of July 2022

Such an important reminder and tie-in. Thank you for that insight, Florence!

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