According to Very Well Mind, the top ten fears and phobias are:
- Thunder and lightning
- Social situations
- Being alone
The fears clients bring to our appointments have nothing to do with the ten above, but they are equally debilitating. The most common fears brought to our meetings are:
- Failure: This most frequently manifests as catastrophizing what might happen if a mistake is made.
- Success: This most frequently manifests as what will happen if we are successful. Will our friendships change? Will we be asked to do more and more, creating the opportunity for failure?
- Shame: This frequently manifests as concern that a mistake or character flaw will be uncovered.
- Embarrassment: This frequently manifests as shying away from social situations for fear that we will make a social blunder or mistake.
- Mistakes: This most frequently manifests in not taking on or completing projects due to the desire for perfection.
- Losing control: This frequently manifests in demanding complete control over situations because if we are not wholly in control, something terrible will happen.
- Saying no: This frequently manifests in fear of conflict or confrontation.
- Rejection: This frequently manifests as a concern of not being liked, rejected, or alone.
Now that you may be able to identify the fear, what to do about it? I will use a personal example.
- Acknowledge the fear basis (success, rejection, embarrassment, etc.). What is it we are truly afraid of? I’m my case, it was the fear of success.
- Articulate the fear. Sometimes writing it down is helpful. I can use a personal example here. “If I expand my business, I will lose the connection with my family and friends.” Merely saying or writing those words distanced me from the problem. I was in control of managing my relationships, whether my business was successful or not.
- Review the data that supports this fear. What data said success in my business equates to losing relationships? There wasn’t any. Generally, our fears are not founded in fact.
- Try something, see how it works, and set boundaries. I tried working more, and things seemed fine, but I was starting to miss out on important events. I modified my business hours to accommodate time with my grandchildren and golfing with friends, and things settled back in. My business was gaining momentum. I’d structured it so that it grew and allowed me to support the things that truly mattered.
It’s normal to feel fear. Fear is what keeps us alive, but it can also hold us back. Acknowledging the fear, not empowering it, will allow us to move forward.
Cindy Jobs, PCAC, ACC
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