There are only two types of fears that may prevent you from succeeding.
The first type are inborn, innate fears. Everybody has these fears at some level, even if they’ve learned to ignore a good many of them. Most of these fears are around physical pain or death. You didn’t learn to fear spiders or snakes. You probably didn’t learn to fear flying, heights, the dark, clowns, or mean-looking dogs (or people). As we humans have evolved, some of those fears evolved with us, mostly to protect us from real danger.
Unless you have some very severe, debilitating phobia, none of these innate fears are likely to keep you from success. The world is a much safer place than it was at our beginning. You aren’t likely to suffer any real physical pain or death from any of these fears, and most of these dangers are relatively easily avoided.
The second set of fears have also developed with us as we have evolved. These are fears that have to do with your identity. Mostly they are fears of being judged by others. Your fear of public speaking is one of these fears. So is your fear of being wrong, and your fear of being rejected. You are embarrassed when you make a mistake because your ego feels shame. That’s fear.
The fears around your identity aren’t about the physical pain or death, but you can surely feel the physical effects of fear. People could think less of you. This is an emotional or psychological pain. But when you feel this pain, you aren’t really in danger.
We live, survive, and thrive in tribes. These fears came from the real danger that you could be ostracized from the tribe. Since no one survives alone, that’s what made these fears dangerous in the past.
Love and Connection Fears
The final class of fears, fears about love and connection, are really a subset of identity fears. You might fear being alone, being abandoned, or being rejected. Trust issues show up in this category, too. You can fear commitment, which is often a way to prevent from feeling the pain of disappointment. You might also fear intimacy because you fear being hurt.
The fears around identity and fears around love and connection can combine, like when a person doesn’t believe they are worthy of love.
Anything you fear falls into one of these categories. If you fear taking some action that you know you need to take, start by asking yourself what it is you really fear.
The fears around your identity and love (or connection) are more likely to prevent you from succeeding and being happy.
You might say, “I don’t want to publish this blog post because it’s not ready.” But what are you afraid of? You say, “Someone might not like it, it might not be good enough, it might be full of errors.” But what if it is? What then? “Someone might share it with other people. They might see the mistakes. They might think less of me.” Yes, and they may think more of you.
Fear is your servant. It is here to prevent you from being harmed by real dangers. You cannot allow it to become your master and prevent you from taking the actions you need to take, lest it keep you from success and happiness.