How Fear Holds You Back & Kills Your Joy (until you understand it)

Do any of these symptoms feel familiar to you?

Those are just some of the symptoms of fear, which is a natural human emotion.

Often fear shows up and it goes unrecognized. It doesn’t show up with a big sign and yelling


Are you one of the many people who think you don’t have any fear?

If the term “fear” turns you off, think of it this way… the way our brain is wired and the way we’re conditioned to think causes us to have automatic behaviors (fear).

Once you understand how fear makes you behave in a way that doesn’t support your goals, it’ll have less of a grip on you. Then you can learn to look at fear as a friend and use it to tap into your inner joy.

Woman with symptoms of fear

Fear Has a Job!

Fear has one job, and that’s to keep you safe. That means it’s going to try to stop you from doing anything where it doesn’t think it can keep you safe – physically or emotionally.

If there’s a bear behind you, fear is your best buddy because it’s going to light a fire under you to get out of there!

If you want to ask for a promotion or ask someone out on a date, fear might be your rival if it doesn’t think it can keep you safe from failing. It shows up as that inner critic that’s saying, “Don’t ask, you’ll never get that promotion! People don’t think you’re smart enough and you really don’t have any special skills! Stay here in the comfort zone where I can keep you safe.”

It doesn’t know how to keep you safe other than make you not change. So it’ll make you blame, isolate, wish things were different, have negative self-talk, compare yourself to others, worry, resent, feel disappointed… and the list goes on. It has just that one method – avoiding the uncertainty of change – to keep you safe.

Bottom line is…

  1. Fear doesn’t care about your happiness, it just wants to keep you safe.
  2. Fear keeps you from going for your dreams and goals that are outside of your comfort zone.
  3. Fear keeps you stuck.

That being said, you can learn to work with fear. Once you become aware of your responses to fear, you can consciously choose to take proactive actions to move through the fear and choose inner joy.

3 Facts You Need to Know About Fear So You Can Loosen Its Grip on You*

3 Facts how to loosen fear's grip

Understanding the brain’s processes and tendencies empowers us to override the programming (how we’ve been conditioned to think), and start making conscious decisions for our own lives based on our authentic selves.

FACT #1 – The body’s reaction to fear is the same whether it’s a physical or emotional threat.

This means that to your body and brain, it feels the same whether you’re climbing a steep jagged mountain, or if you’re thinking about making a big life change such as changing careers. In both cases you might have physical symptoms like your heart racing or palms sweating.

Do you ever start something but then can’t finish it? Do you have no idea why you simply can’t get yourself to start taking some action? It’s not you, it’s fear holding you back because it’s trying to keep you emotionally safe. You’re not crazy!

FACT #2 – The way our brain is wired causes us to react to both physical and emotional threats before we have all the facts.

Therefore, you brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.

If you see a something in the leaves, you might run screaming because years ago you saw a snake in the leaves. You jumped to the conclusion that this was a snake. You didn’t have all the facts, so it very well could have been a stick.

An example is that your boss schedules a meeting with you, and you immediately jump to the conclusion that she’s upset with you. Your imagination could be completely fabricating that possibility!

So, if you are talking about something and generating emotion, your brain thinks it’s REAL. Now that you know this, next time you’re fretting and stirring up a bunch of negative emotion, ask yourself… is it real? Or am I making up this story?

FACT #3 – It’s highly unlikely that you’ll erase the memories of fear.

There are a few reasons for this fact.

First, real and perceived threats go into our long-term memory. That’s why you imagined a snake in fact #2. That’s good if you see a wild animal near you. Not so good if you experienced childhood bullying.

Second, fear rides on the assumption that what happened in the past will happen again. It uses the past against you, and never even looks at the future. The future has too much unknown and that’s uncomfortable, scary, and fear believes it can’t keep you safe in the wild realm of unknown.

Finally, research shows that experiences of our ancestors carry forward to us. How’s that for long term memory!

So not only do we accumulate limiting beliefs that we create ourselves (mostly by an early age), we also have some of our ancestors’ limiting beliefs. And those limiting beliefs keep us from being our true, authentic selves.

With a conscious effort we can get beyond those memories so they don’t continue to make us behave in ways that don’t support our goals.

Moving Forward

Thoughts, feelings and physical sensations that show up when fear sneaks in is normal, you’re not crazy!

For example, your inner critic that is worried about what others will think of you or that someone will reject you… that’s fear. It’s not YOU, it’s your FEAR.

The first thing you can do to start overcoming your fear is to talk to it. “Hi fear, I see you there. I know you’re stopping me from speaking up in this meeting.” This will help you create awareness of how fear is sneaking into your life.

And then celebrate your awareness! It’s not about what you did or didn’t do, it’s about having forward movement. Small steps get you there.

Once you understand fear, you can honor it and no longer be afraid of it.

You can look at it as a friend who loves you. When it gives you clues that it’s holding you back (certain behaviors), you can thank it for wanting to keep you safe. And then choose to take conscious action anyway because you know the joy you want is worth stepping out into the uncertainty that fear doesn’t like.

BONUS: To REALLY start overcoming fear, get my free mini course. You’ll learn just one of the tools you can use to move through fear to get the life you deserve.

Fear is a huge topic and we could talk for hours about it. But the basics are:

  1. We all experience it
  2. It doesn’t ever go away
  3. The one way to move through fear is to take action. Feel the fear, and move through it anyway.

Now, go dream fearlessly, and leave me a comment with your thoughts or questions!

*As I learned in the Life Coach Certification Program at the Fearless Living Institute.

12 Replies to “How Fear Holds You Back & Kills Your Joy (until you understand it)”

  1. I love the idea of talking to fear. I say, let’s boss that dumb fear-bully around and tell him who’s in charge! um, that’d be me, and I ain’t taking any more of your guff and bluff, fear!

  2. Talking to fear is certainly the key! I find that I sometimes overthink an event that will happen & create more problems- I’m trying to go more with the flow.

  3. Absolutely love the idea of talking to fear. It’s that whole fight or flight debate. You have to listen to your gut and sometimes take a leap of faith!

    1. Talking to fear will calm it. Fear just wants to keep us safe, so building a healthy relationship with it is the best bet!

    1. Hi Maggie, love your intention to live “fearlessly and in JOY.” Thank you for your comment.💕

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