Fear can immobilize us in many ways and in many situations. It prevents us from thinking new thoughts, having new experiences, and developing into a better person. I’m sure you know fear as the emotion causing you to experience the fight or flight response in order to protect yourself when a threat is present. Fear in this sense is very valuable. Though, many times we experience fear when there is no real or present danger. This type of fear is irrational, self-defeating, and not at all life protecting. Any time we are trying to make a change in life, or are taking a risk that has uncertainty, we will probably experience this fear response. How do you respond when fear creeps into your life? Managing fear can come from gaining awareness of the limiting behavioral responses we have, and beginning to take a growth mindset toward change and risk taking. Here are 5 responses to watch out for that can limit you from ever flourishing in life.
1. Comfort zones
Whenever a big change or new opportunity arrives it’s common that some fear or anxiety might emerge about the uncertainty. When we experience this fear it can make us want to run back to our comfort zone where we know we can handle things and feel a sense of safety. Fear tells us that change is dangerous and bad. It leads us to think, “if I change there’s a chance I won’t be able to handle things.” Know that when you are getting outside of your comfort zone it will feel unnatural, scary, and maybe even wrong, but this is only at first. Ultimately, when there is no clear and present danger, fear in these instances means you are growing.
2. Defensive behavior
When we don’t feel confident and have a sense of insecurity, fear can develop and lead us to be on the defensive. When we get defensive we can start reacting hastily and irrationally instead of proactively and intentionally deciding what to do. We may take things personally and attribute any lack of confidence to our personal skills and character. When you notice you’re being defensive consider where this is coming from. Is it because you are scared and threatened? What would be a more effective and empowering way to solve the problem?
When problems emerge and uncertainty arises avoiding our problems may be one of the easiest traps to fall into. We want to do everything in our power to avoid the person, places, or things that trigger our painful fear, and the quickest and most sure fire way to do so is avoidance. Though, avoiding prevents us from ever really dealing with things and keeps us trapped in a fearful and avoidant cycle. When we avoid ever stepping outside our comfort zone and pushing past our limits we will never thrive to our fullest potential.
When we feel in danger, fighting back or lashing out may be a natural response in order to protect ourselves, but often irrational fears lead to this response when it’s uncalled for. When fear turns to anger or aggression it can end up causing much more damage than doing good. We may blame others, burn bridges, and actually harm ourselves or others. Attacking is a way of trying to hold onto power and regain a sense of control when we feel overwhelmed by fear. This is only an illusion, and responding in this way will only hold you back from knowing what you’re truly capable of.
5. Ways not to loose
When we believe defeat is in sight we may start to focus on how we can prevent loosing instead of how we can win. When we focus on what may be lost instead of what is to be gained our perspective is geared toward a defensive and protective stance. In order to achieve want we desire, we want to find ways to win and stay focused on what we want, instead of what we don’t want. Next time you have a chance to make a opportunistic change pay attention to what you’re focusing on. Are you focusing on what could be lost? Or, are you focusing on how to win and what can be gained?
It’s time to move past illusory fears
All of these responses keep us stagnant and stuck in our current situation and patterns. They are the exact responses that validate our fears as they limit our ability to get what we truly want. Giving up these responses is within our power when we are willing to replace them with faith in our abilities and embrace growth and expansion. Make a choice today to take responsibility for your fear and your freedom from it. Life offers a series of opportunities to grow and develop spiritually, emotionally, and mentally if we are willing to push past our irrational fears and truly become the person we are capable of being. Photo credit: andrea.rose