Can You Identify When Fear is Holding You Down?

Know the steps to identify and overcome fear, so you can achieve success


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of a three-part series about the impact of fear and happiness on your ability to achieve success.

Fear and happiness may seem diametrically opposed experiences, but, in fact, they are often connected. While you may not experience happiness while feeling fear, achieving happiness can often be tied to your ability to move past your fears. Managing both fear and happiness contribute to your ability to achieve personal and professional success.

An important aspect of managing fear and moving toward happiness involves your ability to identify fear and understand its impact. In this article, I will explore the importance of recognizing when fear is holding you hostage. In the next two articles in this series, I will explore how to move past fear and toward happiness.

Fear is defined as a distressing feeling that we experience both emotionally and physically, aroused by a perception of danger. We often walk a fine line with fear, understanding that it can be useful and even fun but also aware that too much of it can cause us to lose our way. Fear has two faces: one side that can pull you down and another that can motivate you to push ahead.




Short- and Long-Term Fear

Generally, people recognize short-term fear by physical signs (such as elevated heart rates, faster breathing, muscle weakness or tension, difficulty concentrating or swallowing, hot or cold sweats or shakes, upset stomach) or the psychological signs (such as irritability, jumpiness, confusion and an inability to make a decision). Fear can result from physical danger, but it can also come from an exciting ride at the amusement park, a scary movie, launching a new business venture or asking the person you admire for a date. These short-term fears can have an effect that can be exhilarating; you know the expression “A good scare can get your heart pumping.” When you are in control and able to manage the feelings associated with fear, you can use it as the push you need to take action.

However, fear that lasts longer (a few hours or days without relief or resolution) can fill your brain and body with chemicals that eat away at your reserves. If you have ever spent any time in fear, you understand how you begin to feel weighed down, unsure, tired, tense and so much more. Over time and with repeated exposure to a fear, your baseline set point for a fear reaction can change such that you may lose the ability to form an effective response to it. You may no longer register the physical or psychological signs, and when this happens you have changed your mind and body away from their normal and healthy states of response.





Take the Steps

Ongoing fear leads to a loss of trust in yourself and others, and when fear crosses into the territory of settling in, you can no longer count on your impressions of people and situations. This state of being is difficult to operate within, so it is important that you take the time to recognize if your feelings and reactions are trustworthy when you are experiencing events, situations, worries and more that have been pushing you toward fear.


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