Paralyzed by Fear

I spend a lot of my time working with clients who want to either get better jobs or start their own businesses. Those who are not successful within the first 30 days of our initial contact seem to possess one thing in common: fear. Fear of taking risks, fear of being a failure, fear of not knowing what to do next, fear of being successful and not knowing how to handle it- these fears feel very real and they get in the way big time for many people. So much so, that some people become paralyzed by their fear and are unable to make any progress after expressing their desires or goals.

How does one move beyond these fears?

In most cases, fear is typically based on a thought or feeling- not on a real event that is occurring right now today. When I get a client searching for a new job that seems to be sabotaging their efforts I begin by pointing out the obvious and asking some key questions:

“You seem stuck. It seems like you may not really want to succeed in this job search. What fears are you having about this working or not working out?” Usually I get answers like: It will be too hard, they won’t like me, I might not really have the skills to do the job, What if I can’t do the job- I don’t want to humiliate myself, I am worried that my car will break down and I won’t be able to make it to work, I don’t want to get fired- that happened once before.

The key here is that none of these fears are based on events that actually happened today or even yesterday. They are fears based on events that we think might happen. We have no steadfast evidence or proof that they will actually happen. Most of the time our fears are not based on realities but on things that we have collected from life events in our childhood or from years ago in the past, from movies, from stories and news about other people- they really have nothing to do with us or how we would act in the same environment or situation today.

I work to point this out to my clients- that most fears are based on experiences that we never personally have had. We are then able talk about how it might feel to have each of these fearful things happen, what the client can do to actually prevent their fears from occurring if anything, and then we are able to move on to more productive thinking that helps us reach their goals.

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