Remember being a child and fearing the Boogeyman and the dark? With a little help from your imagination, ordinary things became terrifying monsters that sent you running to mom and dad for comfort.
Fear doesn’t discriminate – If you are human, you have fears. While you may have moved past being afraid of the Boogeyman, perhaps you can relate to these common fears:
- Public speaking
- Enclosed spaces
- Thunder & Lightning
As adults, our imaginations continue to play a role in feeding our fears. They cause us to dream up some rather distressing scenarios that might not send you running to mom and dad (that would be embarrassing!), but keep you paralyzed all the same!
When pursuing your purpose or following your passion, the odds of fear sneaking in increase significantly. That’s a bummer because fear prevents you from getting where you want to be.
Ignoring fear doesn’t work either. In fact, fear behaves a bit like kudzu – a speedy and invasive vine that was brought to the south from China and Japan. A kudzu vine can grow up to sixty feet a day, so it doesn’t take long before it smothers the trees and bushes in its path. Kudzu has been known to uproot or break trees from the sheer weight of the vine as it drapes over a tree! That’s one powerful vine.
The only way to eliminate kudzu is to kill it at the roots. An established Kudzu root can weigh up to 400 pounds. Between the speedy growth and the strong roots, getting rid of Kudzu is no easy task!
Eliminating fear – that’s also not an easy task! Just like kudzu, fear grows, spreads, and requires a considerable amount of effort to manage – especially if you don’t destroy the root!
Curious about the ways fear might be running your life? Here are a few sneaky ways fear takes over:
Lurking underneath perfectionism is the fear of failure, making a mistake, and not measuring up to some unattainable standard you have set or you think others have set for you.
The truth is, that good is better than perfect, because perfect is impossible! As long as doing things perfectly is your target, you will never hit it! You’ll stay mighty busy trying – but you won’t make the progress that’s necessary to pursue your purpose or passion.
Putting things off, being indecisive, complacent, or even just doing nothing is fear showing up in the disguise of procrastination. I find that people who procrastinate are well aware of their tendency to do so, but might not be as aware of the fears that are driving their behavior. Procrastinators are prone to fear of failure, success, the unknown, being uncomfortable – even starting in the wrong place.
While you might feel like you have a legitimate reason for not taking action, it is more likely to be fear in disguise. Perhaps you have used excuses like these:
- I can’t do __________ – I don’t have enough connections, time, or money.
- I am not smart enough, experienced enough, etc.
- I am too busy, too in debt, too young…
- That’s not who I am – it’s outside my comfort zone.
- I don’t have the credibility to do ___________.
When your anger is triggered or causes you to respond in sarcastic or cynical ways, that is a tip off that fear is at work trying to protect your vulnerabilities. Take the time to explore what your anger is trying to show you. While it may be hurt or frustration, often times it is fear.
5. Being Too Responsible
Being responsible is a wonderful thing –wouldn’t be nice if more people were like that? However, if you take on more than you can handle or responsibilities that don’t belong to you, then fear just might be what’s driving you. The fear of missing out, or missing the next great opportunity, can inadvertently cause you to take on too much and feel overwhelmed.
On the flip side, fear of failing just might keep you from taking on responsibility that would benefit you.
6. Physical Illness
When you are healthy and brimming with energy, it frees you up to courageously move forward towards your goals. And when you don’t feel well – moving forward is a struggle!
Fear plays a significant part in contributing to physical illness. It is not the only culprit – shame, guilt, apathy, anxiety, anger and hate also play a roll, although I think if you did some digging behind each of these emotions you would discover fear.
Illness can be a tip off that you have fears and negative thoughts to deal with. Acknowledge the fear and the negative thoughts and deliberately choose something more productive to focus on. Fear causes stress and when your body is stressed it can’t repair itself.
7. Endless Researching /Preparing
Perpetually researching and preparing makes you feel like you are doing something productive when in reality you are stuck and fearful of taking action towards what’s important.
8. Waiting on God
Following God’s lead and embracing His timing is incredibly important when pursuing your purpose. Often God’s pace is much slower than what we might have in mind. In my own life it is often wait, wait, wait, and then suddenly – go faster than I can keep up with!
There are moments when you wait to hear the audible voice of God to take action when you are actually too chicken to move forward. Perhaps God isn’t speaking because you haven’t done the last thing He asked you to do or because whatever you are waiting on is something that is clearly within His will.
9. Control Freak
I like to be in control – it is a part of my D (Driver) personality. However, if that need for control turns me into a control freak, then you can be sure that fear has snuck in! Mind you, it is an illusion that I can actually control anything, but fear leads you to believe that you can’t trust God, other people, or even the unknown!
Even though I like to be in control, I can just as easily become the victim and suddenly surrender my strength because I am too afraid to speak up, share the truth, or what I need. That’s fear at work in a potent way! Playing weak and thinking there is nothing you can do about your situation – that’s fear!
While we may not realize it, turning to alcohol, drugs, sex, TV, excessive busyness or anything else that keeps you from feeling unpleasant emotions is fear at work.
No matter how much of an introvert or extrovert you are, you were made for relationships. It is in relationships that you learn and grow. Unfortunately, when people are involved there are tricky moments – conflicts, misunderstandings, and disappointments – and those moments can be painful. Because you fear pain, you avoid the source of the pain and isolate. Sadly, this also cuts you off from the love and support you need to pursue your goals or purpose!
Only you can deal with your fear. Being able to recognize when fear is at work and taking action – that’s magnificently motivating not to mention energizing and empowering!