Do you have a fear of doing the wrong thing? I mean, not just a worry, but a true fear? Anxiety from the thought of being or doing something wrong?
Have you ever been afraid that if you made one mistake or one bad choice, something terrible would happen? Or that your future would be ruined? I hear ya. I used to (and still do) over-analyze the heck out of nearly every decision I make.
Take Donna’s story for example: Donna was afraid to leave her cheating husband for fear she’d be lonely for the rest of her life. BUT when she challenged the fear and took action, she actually found she enjoyed life more following her divorce. Why? Because she no longer felt plagued by a marriage that lowered her self-esteem and left her feeling abandoned.
Donna is now very glad she chose to challenge her fear. Wouldn’t you be?
You don’t need me to tell you fear can limit your life and dreams. But what you do need me to tell you is: If you keep sitting there worrying about your fears, you’ll never give life the opportunity to be all you want it to be.
Are you afraid to go after the promotion you want at work? Or maybe you’re afraid to quit that job and start the business you’ve always wanted? Scared to flirt with the cute guy at the coffee shop? Or maybe you’re afraid to stand up to an abusive family member?
If you’re experiencing any of these nine signs, I suggest you really examine how much fear is controlling your life and happiness. Then, develop a plan to do something about it!
Sign #1: You Focus on the “If’s”
A classic indicator you’re letting fear call the shots? Most of your thoughts start with “if.” For instance, “If I put myself out there on a dating app, everyone will think I’m lonely.” Or “If I put the kids in daycare for one afternoon each week, my mother-in-law will call me selfish.”
Sometimes, the “if’s” really are true. Your mother-in-law might call you selfish. What you have to do in situations like this is realize one very important truth in life: Humans judge. And, most of them are happy to upchuck their opinion without any little iota of fact to back-up their thoughts. (It’s the dark side of human nature.)
Instead of focusing on the “if’s,” focus on the facts: You know your own truth! (I tell myself this most every day when I think others may be judging me incorrectly.)
If your mother-in-law calls you selfish, so what? What does she know? And, if she would rather judge you than support you, her opinion doesn’t matter anyway.
So what if everyone thinks you’re lonely? Maybe they’ll try to hook you up with a potential love match! (After all, a recommendation from a friend can be much less intimidating than connecting with a potential weirdo on Plenty-of-Fish or Tender.)
Sign #2: You Seek Validation from Others
When it’s time to make a decision, you have to check in with twenty-five other people. You need their thoughts and opinions before you can take action. While there’s certainly a time to seek feedback, the truth is: You. Are. GROWN! You’re capable of making your own decisions, so put on your big girl/boy pants, and get on with it.
Kelly McCausey, a business coach at Love People + Make Money, nails it: “Life was meant to be lived in community, but not by committee.”
If you truly need advice, of course, it’s okay to ask. But when you’re trying to decide if you should buy a new, sporty car for fear the neighborhood will think you pretentious? Please…
If you know you’re not pretentious, then get the car and enjoy. If you were pretentious, you likely wouldn’t have made it this far in the post anyway.
Sign #3: You Don’t Take Responsibility
When you’re unhappy, it’s someone else’s fault. You can’t be happy with your home because your husband won’t fix the gutters. You can’t get that promotion at work because your boss is a jerk. You can’t start your book because your kids won’t leave you alone to write.
Seriously, the only one who is responsible for your happiness is YOU. Unfortunately, that’s quite often a hard lesson to learn and even harder actions to take.
If you live by fear, you come up with a hundred-and-one reasons why you can’t (or won’t) do something. Typically, you justify your excuses as being someone else’s fault rather than accepting you have to make different choices or (scarier) big changes.
Sign #4: You Don’t Community Clearly
You don’t say what you mean and boldly communicate what you want (or don’t want).
Are you scared of what the other person might think? Are you scared of hurting someone’s feelings? Are you fearful of embracing what you truly want or who you truly are? I get that… Especially if you’ve been made to believe you’re wrong in what you think or do.
I’ve said it to others many times (after I’ve said it many times to myself): “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”
Not only will that communicate your values to those in your life (or those wanting to be in your life), but it will help you establish self-confidence and define a world, your world, where you can find peace.
Sign #5: You Don’t Assert Yourself
There’s an amazing position available at work, but you won’t ask your boss for the recommendation you need. There’s an online business coach looking for an intern with your skillset, but you don’t reach out to her. There’s a blueberry muffin (for God’s sake!) that you want in the display, but you won’t ask the baker for it!
The sad thing about fear is it keeps you playing small. It convinces you that while you may not be happy here, it’s still safer than taking a chance. (Raising my hand right here to relationship/commitment fears!)
You shortchange your long-term growth for a temporary feeling of safety. While it might feel smart, this approach keeps you acting puny and refusing to stand in your own, unique power. You deserve better.
Sign #6: You Check Out
When fear is running the show, you may find ways to “check out” or numb yourself. Sometimes, these activities can start with the best of intentions, but they quickly become a bad habit.
For example, one woman started taking self-defense classes to spend time away from her verbally abusive partner. She drove her body to the brink of exhaustion by taking multiple classes every day. Within a few weeks, she suffered a torn ligament in her shoulder. And, she still had her verbally abusive partner to deal with.
In other words, rip off the Band-Aid and deal with it. That doesn’t necessarily mean making quick, unthoughtful decisions, but rather developing an intelligent plan and moving forward accordingly.
Sign #7: You Don’t Accept Praise
Another sign you’re letting fear take over is you don’t accept praise or compliments. While this can be a sign of low self-esteem, it can run deeper than that for some. You might be afraid if others peer too deeply beneath your surface, they’ll realize you aren’t worthy. (If you’re taking a break to think about this, I’m in that same boat with you. Am I being humble or fearful?)
Let me tell ya: You are not lacking. You are just FINE, thank you very much! Of course, you have personal things to work on, but who doesn’t? Give yourself a break. You’re awesome. (And, if you are simply being humble, let yourself say “Thank you!” to the next compliment!)
Sign #8: You Micromanage Everything
You tell yourself you’re a “details person.” You say you’re good at connecting all the dots. You insist you’re not a perfectionist or controlling. However, if you ask friends or family, it may be a different story.
Now… you are you. And, you is perfectly okay. But, when others offer feedback we agree with (even when it’s hard to), YOU make the decision to make yourself better. “You 2.0!”
If people you care about or love feel they can’t do anything right or they’re afraid of displeasing you, it’s probably time to examine how you communicate.
When you’re trying to control the situations around you, it’s a sure sign you’re not operating from a place of peace. You’re letting fear bully you and as a result, you’re difficult to live and work with.
If you’re truly going to stop living in fear, you have to admit your faults. (Yeah… that’s hard.) But, when you learn to communicate effectively with people… and trust them (yeah… that’s hard, too), then you’ll find you live a happier life AND the people around you are happier, too.
Sign #9: You Aren’t Challenging Yourself
Maybe you’re afraid of disappointing yourself? Perhaps you’re worried about disappointing family or friends? Maybe you’re concerned you’ll look bad in front of your boss or co-workers?
The truth is most people admire someone who challenges themselves. This doesn’t mean you have to take on a huge challenge. It can be something small that stretches you beyond your comfort zone.
Train yourself to embrace challenges by trying something new each day. It could be trying a bold lipstick color, giving a compliment to a stranger, learning a new skill, or bringing up a difficult conversation with a loved one.
No matter what, you’ll likely be successful – You’ll either find out you’re fine where and as you are OR you’ll realize a facet of yourself or your life that can grow and be better. (Plus, you might just inspire someone to do the same for themselves!)
Are You Ready to Be Bold?
I’m not going to sit here and say, you have to examine every above point and fix all of them. Maybe some of them don’t even apply? (But, if they do, don’t be afraid to get to work. In fact… BE EXCITED!)
It’s time to strike back against fear. You’re the one in control, and you can choose to become an awesome, bold bad-ass.
I’ve even got a FREE GIFT for you – download this fun workbook to help you get started, develop a plan, and navigate the process.
Now, start this year RIGHT!