Everyone has those nagging voices, doubts, and fears that hold them back. Maybe you’re conforming more than you’d really like to, but you’re afraid to stand out, or perhaps you want to reach out to that estranged family member and improve your relationship, but you’re afraid to open the door.
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Maybe there’s something you want to do, but you’re afraid that it isn’t what you should do. Those fears of today are going to be the regrets of tomorrow. When you look back on your life, don’t say that you wish you’d done something but were just too scared to do it.
Let go of these nine fears today and start living your life to its fullest…
1. Being Yourself
If you’re afraid that people won’t like the real you, you need to spend time with different people. Spending your life trying to live up to someone else’s image of what you’re supposed to be is a surefire path to misery.
Of course, if you’re worried that people won’t like you because of some tremendous character flaws (“Everyone will hate me the minute they find out that I’m just dying to completely dominate the conversation and cuss out anyone who tries to interrupt me!”), that’s something to work on.
However, if you’re worried people won’t like you because of your interests, your dreams, or your beliefs, it’s time to swallow those fears and embrace the things you love.
2. Standing Up For Yourself And Others
Everyone wants what is best for themselves, and sometimes they think the right way to do it is to stomp all over what’s best for you – or all over a group of people you care about.
Some of them may even do this completely unintentionally, assuming that you’re fine with them leapfrogging you for that promotion or imposing extra thankless work on you because you never spoke up and said otherwise.
Don’t stand by and let this happen; learn to speak up. This doesn’t mean constantly accusing the people around you of trying to deny you what’s yours. That’s a wonderful way to end up feeling entitled and bitter. However, it does mean that you need to set boundaries and stick with them.
3. Being Rejected
Everyone gets rejected sometimes, and it’s rarely personal. If you apply for your dream job and don’t get it, it may simply be that you were their second-favorite candidate who would have gotten the job in a heartbeat if their favorite hadn’t walked through the door.
If that cute acquaintance turns you down for a date, it may be because he or she just isn’t ready for a relationship with anyone at all right now. Everyone gets rejected sometimes; everyone also gets accepted sometimes. Until you put yourself out there, you’ll never know which one will be you.
Fear of apologizing goes hand in hand with fear of rejection. Too often, when we’re afraid to apologize, it’s because we’re worried that someone will spit our apology back in our face. On the other hand, maybe there’s an apology that you’re sitting on because you’re afraid that you’ll look foolish if you admit you were wrong.
Don’t let those fears hold you back. If you were genuinely wrong, there’s a good chance that everyone knows it except you, and the thing that makes you look foolish is clinging to your mistakes. If you try to apologize and are rebuffed, you know that you’re the one who tried to extend an olive branch; the ball is in the other person’s court.
5. Accepting Responsibility
Just like apologizing, it can be terrifying to accept responsibility for your mistakes because no one likes to have been wrong. However, being the kind of person who constantly blames others will not end well for you.
If you never acknowledge your own role in the bad things that happen in your life, you can never learn from your mistakes. After all, how can you learn from a mistake that you won’t admit you made in the first place?
Failing to accept responsibility can even lead to a sense of fatalism or learned helplessness; if you feel that you had no control over misfortunes earlier in your life, you may feel that you have no control over misfortunes later in life, which will lead to you accepting them passively rather than trying to change them.
Accepting responsibility can actually give you a stronger sense of control in life.
Of course, there’s also the havoc that blaming others will bring to your social life. No one wants to be blamed for things that aren’t their fault. If you keep lashing out at friends and family and laying your mistakes at their feet, don’t be surprised if you get fewer party invitations in your mailbox.
6. Looking Stupid
No one is good at everything, and there’s a good chance that you enjoy something that you’re absolutely terrible at doing. So what? If you enjoy it, go all out and have fun. Lots of people play basketball or sing karaoke; not many of them have the skills to land them in the NBA or as the winner of The Voice.
If you enjoy dancing or singing, have fun stumbling along with two left feet while warbling off-key. Strive to do your best at the things you want to be a priority and just have fun with the rest.
7. Being Criticized
There are two reasons someone might criticize you: because they genuinely think you’re doing something wrong and want to express that opinion, or because they’re haters. If it’s constructive criticism geared toward a real mistake you’re making, you need to hear it.
Even if you don’t agree with the point the person is making, getting used to hearing constructive criticism will help you to incorporate it when you hear criticism that you agree with.
If it’s just the ranting of a jerk who wants to rain on your parade, you can ignore it. It’s about them, not about you.
Either way, refusing to do something for fear of criticism means you’re either cutting yourself off from helpful feedback or caving to your fear of a bunch of trolls. Neither is a good idea.
Just like rejection, failure is rarely personal. You can fail for any of a thousand reasons, only a few of which are within your control, so why not give it a try?
A failure won’t reflect on you, and if it was because of an actual mistake that you made, it will provide valuable experience for the next time you take a risk.
9. …And Succeeding
Bizarrely enough, fear of success can hold you back just as much as fear of failure. You might be so terrified of another shoe dropping that you subconsciously sabotage yourself, making the other shoe drop through your own inaction.
You may also be afraid that after this project succeeds, you’ll have to start another one that might fail, so why not stretch out this one as long as humanly possible? Recognize that fear for what it is so you can face it head on.