Fear has a fascinating purpose in our lives. Fear helps us to avoid or reduce harm. When we feel fear, we take steps to protect ourselves from life-threatening behaviors or events. Think of our primitive ancestors running for their lives. They were afraid of becoming an animal’s next meal.
Thankfully we don’t have those problems, however, we still experience fear the same way. Our fears of what we perceive as being dangerous can prevent us from doing things we’d like to. Unlike our ancestors, our fears go beyond animal predation or starvation.
We can become afraid of less tangible things such as failing. As a result, our fear of failing can paralyze us from taking action in so many areas of our life. Our fear of failure holds us back.
Why Do We Feel Fear of Failing?
Fear of failing stems from our feeling a lack of control of the situation. We are afraid of things not going according to our plan. We also fear rejection or leaving a negative impression on the people around us. Of course, how others choose to feel about us is beyond our control, although we don’t often recognize that fact.
Another reason behind our fear of failing is that we tend to believe that any mistakes and failures are bad. We have been conditioned as children that making certain mistakes is bad or naughty. We were reprimanded by adults if we made mistakes. Sometimes the intent was a noble goal to protect us from harm, but not always.
This can lead us to feel that mistakes and failures are unacceptable. Since this belief can be drilled into us for many years, we automatically develop the fear of failing. This fear can easily lead to a habit of inaction.
How Fear Manifests
We are all familiar with the physical manifestations of fear – sweaty palms, trembling voices, and those pesky butterflies in our stomach that seem to be overly active when we are about to do something we are scared of.
However, there are other ways fear manifests in our behavior. One typical example is procrastination. While many of us believe that procrastination is all about feeling lazy, it is also deeply rooted in our fear of failure. We are afraid to make mistakes, so we tend to prolong setting about doing the task.
Our fear of making mistakes and failures can lead us to become a people-pleaser. Since we base too much of our self-worth on the opinions of others, we believe that making errors can lead to rejection from our peers. Our fear of rejection can also lead us to build virtual walls around ourselves, doubt our self-worth, and make endless excuses instead of facing our fears head-on.
Win Over Your Fears By Taking Action
To take action, you must overcome your fears. To overcome your fears, you must be able to take action. That sounds confusing, doesn’t it? Hopefully not, as this belief is as simple as it gets to overcoming your fears.
According to cognitive specialist and neuroscience professor Earl Miller, our brains are incapable of focusing on more than one thing at a time. For example, if we are afraid, our brain only focuses on that specific fear. That’s why we end up thinking about it all the time. Our brain can only consciously focus on one thing at a time, which is why our fear fades away once we are in the process of taking action.
Fear can certainly paralyze you. Things are not always as simple as choosing between action and inaction. So what can push us beyond our comfort zone and finally face our fears? The answer is our commitment. Commitment goes beyond merely decisions or preferences.
Our commitment to achieving our goals and success is more substantial, more profound, and more steadfast. Once we commit to something, nothing else should matter. When we become committed to our goals, we begin to take action, and our brain gets to focus on the goal, not the fear.
Our fears will always be a part of us, but the important thing is to not let your fears control you. We know that fear is a powerful emotion – it can trap you from getting out of your comfort zone.
However, fear can also be the very thing that can push you to take action. Fear can only be overcome when you face it. Being fully committed to your goals enables you to face your fears and take action.