How to Breakthrough Ten Common Fears

common fears

“Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.”

– William Shakespeare

Fear can be defined as an anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of imagined, stories, events and experiences. Most of our fears are about the future.

When I took speech in college, I was excited and eager to learn. I’ve always been social and outgoing and I’ve lived a challenging and adventurous life. I thought my stories would interest and help others. I was ready to share.

The first time I stood up in front of the class, I was anxious and nervous. After about five minutes, I couldn’t go on. In front of everyone, my voice cracked and I began to cry. I quickly returned to my seat. I thought I would die from embarrassment.

I did not. I finished the class with a B and five years later, I wrote a book and joined Toastmasters. I learned how to be more confident, craft stories and hold the attention of an audience.

I went on to speak professionally to large audiences. My specialty was happiness in the workplace. If I would have quit after that first speech, I would have never progressed.

When we ignore and deny our fear, we become stuck in safety, misery, procrastination and predictability.

The key is to name, understand and embrace fear and then take smart actions steps to overcome it. The only way out of fear is through it.

10 Fears and Steps to Resolve Them

1. Fear of intimacy

You are afraid of commitment, allowing others to get close to you or you fear getting too close to others.

Action step: Honor who you are, take off your mask, be vulnerable and reveal the real you. Commit to more offline face-to-face connection.

2. Fear of public speaking

This is the fear of humiliation, being ridiculed, looking stupid and making a mistake or being judged.

Action step: Join Toastmasters. Research, write and prepare your first speech. Practice, practice, practice. Give your first speech in front of family or close friends. Don’t worry, you won’t die.

3. Fear of forgiving others

You fear being hurt again. You’re attached to your story and being right. You think if you forgive someone, they win and you lose.

Action step: Stop reliving what happened. Write down the payoff for your resentment. Be willing to let go of the past. Forgive, bless and move on.

4. Fear of success

You fear making mistakes. You fear the added responsibility that success will bring. You fear people may expect something different from you.

Action step: Figure out your big why and remind yourself of it often. View mistakes as learning opportunities. Learn to expect the best. Believe that the best is yet to come.

5. Fear of networking

You are uncomfortable being in groups. It’s a fear of not feeling good enough, smart enough, or very physically attractive. You fear drawing a blank or not having the best social skills.

Action step: Networking is more than being social. It’s about building relationships and connection. It’s a skill to be learned and practiced. Research it, talk to others about it, practice it and make it fun.

6. Fear of being broke

You believe in lack and scarcity. You focus on not having enough. You’ve probably survived being broke before. The worst case scenario is you’ll have to do it again.

Action step: Make a list of people who would help you if you go broke. Stop paying attention to all forms of negative media or you’ll end of believing the world is coming to an end. Believe the world is plotting to do you good. Look for proof.

7. Fear of not being good enough

You feel separate from and less than others. This kind of suffering comes from comparing yourself to others. Put yourself on equal ground. That’s where you belong!

Action step: Own your brilliance and greatness. Build your self-confidence by doing scary things. You don’t have to change a thing to be good enough.

8. Fear of rejection

This fear begins in childhood. When someone rejects you, it’s about them, how you react is about you. Rejection doesn’t mean that you’re unlovable. It means something or someone isn’t the right fit.

Action step: Go back in your mind and tell your younger self that everything will be OK. Figure out how you reject yourself. Learn to treasure who you are.

9. Fear of learning something new

You feel inadequate. You don’t believe that you’re capable. You believe that doing new things has to be a struggle.

Action step: Make a list of your past successes. Get a mentor. Learn something fun. Take a dance class, cooking class or learn how to play a musical instrument. Give yourself permission to be a beginner.

10. Fear of failure

Fear of failure is fear change and fear of the unknown. If you don’t act, you’ll miss out on marvelous opportunities. Every successful person has experienced failure.

Action step: View life as a bold and wild adventure. Life is stuffed with beauty and tragedy. Stay present and breathe through it all. Hold onto your seat and enjoy the ride.

Photo by martinak15

19 thoughts on “How to Breakthrough Ten Common Fears”

  1. Fear, it seems, comes in many forms. I would argue that most fear is not experienced as anything like terror, and can generally be spotted by a sort of over compensation in those afraid. It may sound strange, but I think things like bullying illustrates a species of fear. I remember one such bully at school, I met him years later and wondered why I’d let him bully me. Maybe ‘let’ is the wrong word, but you know what I mean, I’m dealing with psychology here, not semantics.

    1. Rob,
      My grandson was terribly bullied and once a bunch of wrestlers put him upside down in a school garbage can. I’d say that was terror. I think the bullies are troubled and the bullied are terrorized. I can see your point as well. It just depends…Thanks for stopping by.

  2. What a way to start my morning today. Lovely article to let go our fear and enjoy the true natur eof life.

    thanks marshall :)

  3. Fear is body’s defense mechanism for fight or flight. Unless the danger is perceived to be real and insurmountable, it is better to fight. It will give confidence to take on situations, like mentioned by Tess, if not the first time, then on subsequent occasions. Confidence is built over a time like water drops falling continuously in a bucket will fill it up after some time.

    1. David,
      Can we switch brains please??? Between my low grades in school and my parents only having 6th grade educations, I think my English still suffers a bit. I’m always open to learning and correcting my errors.

  4. Yep its definitely important to face these fears, each time you feel awesome after doing so!

    I find combining letting go of the subconscious reasons you have these fears while also confronting them is the best combination!


  5. Hi Tess,

    Fears can be paralyzing, if we let them overwhelm us. When doubt fills our heads, the feeling of fear is eminent. It is okay to fear as long as we don’t give in to it. So having fear is not all bad because it can save lives.

    Courage is doing something in spite of our fears. Self-doubt is an exercise of obsessive thinking. When we do more doing and do less thinking then our fears will cease. Most of our fears are in our heads; they’re just illusions, they unreal but shadows, and specters without power. They’re just a feeling that comes and goes. We have little to fear.

    Thanks Tess!


  6. I love step #3. I’m working on forgiving my brother for what he’s done to me. I’ve been able to forgive my parents and myself, but with him, it’s different, it still hurts. However, I’m positive that with time and patience, I’ll be able to forgive him too.

  7. I wonder if one of the reasons that these fears are so prevalent today is that we have started to cocoon our children and protect people from taking charge of their own lives and understanding personal responsibility. We all have doubts and fears from time to time. We all have thieves that steal our success but it is only when we change the control and language around anything we do or think or feel that we reduce these fears and get out of our stuckness and excel doing what we are most passionate about

  8. Hello Tess,

    Public speaking is a huge fear for many, including myself. But it is kind of weird because I enjoy being on stage. I enjoy performing. And I enjoy commanding the attention of an audience. I like your idea of signing up for toastmasters. This is somethign I have been recently considering; especially since I’d like to give a TED X talk later this year.

    I was also happy to see ‘fear of networking’ on your list. This is a huge one for me. It one of the main reason, my blog growth has been so slow; however, since declaring 2013 the year of fearlessness, I have been pushing myself to do that which I am afraid of. It will be interseting to see the difference in my blog growth this year vs last year and the year before.

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