Fear, what is it really?
According to the Cambridge dictionary, fear is an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that might happen.
I would invite you to read the above definition again and really dissect it. If you do that, you will notice that it is referring to something that might happen. The key word here is might. What you fear does not actually occur in the moment, it’s a forward projection about what might happen.
Fear is something that we all have experienced. People have been afraid of being alone or dying since the beginning. We have created many fears, especially in a transition as big as leaving a cushy job and going out there and banking on yourself. Our worries keep us up at night and often stop us from pursuing our real dreams and the opportunities that are ahead of us. There are of course some fears that are useful as a survival mechanism (think a lion standing in front of you waiting to attack. It’s quite reasonable to be fearful then).
As you can probably guess fear distracts you and is not going to support you in your transition.
So why is it so pervasive then?
Fear is a natural mechanism designed to protect yourself. You fear losing what you have and want to keep. Essentially, fear is the mind’s natural response to these situations as it is trying to stop you from feeling pain.
A pretty slick design you might think right? It is not though as it results in you not going for your dreams and going full out and thus not achieving your true potential.
Furthermore, researchers at Penn State University had participants write down their specific worries for ten days whenever they noticed they were worrying and then check if they came true. The results showed that an incredible 91 percent of worries were false alarms. And of the remaining 9 percent of worries that did come true, the outcome was better than expected for about a third of the time. For about one in four participants, exactly zero of their worries materialized.
It is worth to caveat this study with the fact that all participants had generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), which is characterized by pervasive and uncontrollable worry along with other symptoms (e.g., problems with concentration or sleep).
In other words, it is clear that worries are often made up and that it is worth looking at what is behind your fears. Below I will highlight 5 big fears that often occur.
5 big fears
1. Not being good enough
This one is often there in many shapes or forms. For aspiring entrepreneurs, it probably looks something like “I am not good enough to be an entrepreneur”
2. Making mistakes
We don’t want to make mistakes, we want to be perfect. But what if we could just see a mistake as a learning opportunity? How would that reduce your fear?
Fear of failure. What is failure really? Who’s definition of failure are you really using? Challenge what you deem to be a failure and start removing some of that fear around it.
Sometimes people are afraid of success, strange right? But hear me out as it comes from a belief that says wealth is evil. You might have created beliefs that if you get wealthy you will become corrupt. This can then drive your fear of success because you don’t want to be evil do you?
5. Fear of the unknown/change
This is the big one and is a difficult one when you are in transition. On the one hand, you want to try something new and are really eager to go for it but then you don’t know exactly how it will plan out. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know is something often said (By the way I call bullshit on this one).
How fear can impact our thinking and decision making
Above I highlighted a good few fears. So now I want to bring some awareness to how fear can impact you and your business. Researcher Paul Slovic (7. Slovic P, Finucane ML, Peters E, et al. Risk as analysis and risk as feelings: some thoughts about affect, reason, risk, and rationality. Risk Analysis 2004; 24:311-322.) wrote that fear leads to giving more importance to perceived risk and lower assessments of perceived benefits. Basically, it is saying that fear leads us to close off, over-emphasize risk and not see the actual opportunity available to us.
Fear can also interrupt processes in our brain that allow us to take in certain information and regulate our emotions.
The impact on your thinking and decision making when coming from a place of fear is clearly one that limits you and can have a significant impact on your life and business.
What if you would come from a place of love versus fear?
So what if instead of fear you would come from a place of love? What would really change?
Imagine this you have a business idea and you have worked on it diligently and with focus to get it in a shape that you are happy with. Now you are choosing to go out there and speak to people about it. But is the choice based on love or far?
Scenario 1 (fear): Everyone always told me that if I don’t go out and speak to people my business will never succeed. Clearly, this instills fear of failure.
Scenario 2 (love): I am choosing to get out there because my idea will have a positive impact on the world and I want the world to improve so that I have a place that is nicer to live in for me and my family.
How you feel with the choice is completely different. Coming from love will allow you to go out and talk to people with no reservation. However, when you are choosing from fear, there will be worry, you will not be fully engaged and therefore be less likely to succeed.
If you are curious to understand more about fears and overcome some of yours let’s have a simple conversation free of any expectations.