An article by: Jay Tow, M.S.

During the many years I have worked as a counselor and coach, I have found that one thing holds people back from living the lives they want more than anything else. Fear is the one common emotion that inhibits us from making the changes that would improve our situations, our standard of living, the quality of our relationships, and our feeling of self-worth. Fear can keep us safe when our safety is truly threatened. On the other hand, fear can keep us from taking actions that could change our lives for the better.

If you suffer from anxiety or phobias, you perception of danger keeps you from facing those things causing your anxiety. This keeps you in a prison of your own making. If you are in a job that you do not find satisfying, do not like doing, or does not meet your needs, fear of the unknown (or failure or success) keeps you from taking the steps to change your job or career. If you are living somewhere you do not like, fear of the unknown keeps you from exploring other places to live that might be more to your liking. If you are in a bad relationship, fear of being alone or the unknown keeps you from ending that relationship in order to make room for other options.

If you fear dealing with an issue or truly experiencing your emotions, you avoid them with some self-destructive behavior rather than work through the issue. Fear of conflict keeps us from being honest with others and keeps us from resolving our issues with others. The result is that our needs our not being met. In order to live the life you really want, you need to face and other overcome what you fear.

Overcoming Fear

It is important to recognize that fear is one of many emotions we experience. The type of fear that keeps us imprisoned is based on what might happen at some future time. “I might fail. I might look stupid. I might be rejected.” When something we fear is avoided it will increase the amount of control this emotion has over our actions and our lives. The longer we avoid doing something, the more fear we have of doing it. This avoidance has a negative effect on self esteem and can also affect other parts of our lives. Avoiding the things we fear can be based on a belief of not being good enough…this is simply not true. There can be a snowball effect further inhibiting our ability to have a full and rewarding life. Therefore, the first step in overcoming a fear is to recognize that it is just a feeling and based on some imagined threat.

The second step is to challenge the validity of the fear and what real harm if any would result in facing what we fear. We tend to think of the worst possible outcome. That is highly unlikely to happen. Focusing on how facing the things you fear might improve your life or enable you to reach your goals is extremely helpful. For example: If you have social anxiety, introducing yourself to someone you are attracted to would give you the opportunity to know that person. Allowing your fears to control your behavior will be another missed opportunity to have what you want in your life.

Finally, avoid as much of the anticipator fear as possible. When you are facing the thing you fear, acknowledge and even embrace your fear. It is normal to experience some anxiety when doing something for the first time or something we believe to have risks. Trying to repress or ignore an emotion can increase its intensity. Be in the moment and do not judge your feelings. The more often you engage in an activity you fear, the less anxiety provoking it will become.

We are all capable of accomplishing so much more than we can imagine. Overcoming a fear enables us to have the confidence to tackle other challenges. It improves feelings of self worth and self esteem. It gives us the opportunity to have more of things we want in our lives and to improve the quality of our lives.

Author's Bio: 

I am a Counselor, Life Management and Relationship Coach, Board Certified Sexologist. I have been counseling individuals and couples for nearly 20 years. I have also worked with clients throughout the country via the internet on Skype for several years. Distance counseling and coaching is becoming more accepted and is as effective as face to face. My focus is to provide solution focused and judgment-free counseling/coaching.
I have both experience and training in sex therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, trauma resolution, and addiction counseling. I continue to add to my skills. Prior to having a full time private practice I worked in both Inpatient and Intensive Outpatient programs. My goal with all my clients is to help them achieve a more rewarding and fuller life.
Please visit my website for more information.