The 3 Biggest Fears That Have Held Me Back in Life and How I'm Dealing With Them

in psychology •  2 years ago  (edited)

Fear doesn't always protect us.


Introduction


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The only 3 headed monster image I could find on Thinkstock.

Over the years I have come to the realisation that there are three fears that have held me back and stopped me from realising my full potential.

I suspect we all have such fears - things that stop us from doing what we want to do or what we could do.

Each of these fears are quite closely related. In some ways I think of them as three heads on the same "fear" monster.

My hope is that I can at least tame that monster before I die.


1) Being Too Concerned With What Others Will Think


We are all social beings by our nature. It is what makes us successful and it is a large part of what gives us our success as a species.

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Don't let what other people think hold you back.

We are driven by our need to conform in many situations.

That is not always a bad thing but in some cases it might hold us back by stopping us from thinking differently.

True progress and revolutionary ideas do not come from herd mentality.

There have been many occasions where I have held back on sharing a good idea - perhaps even something that was brilliant because I was afraid what others would think.

Many times I have failed to speak up or to be different for fear of ridicule.

I think it is sad to miss opportunities as a result of social fear.

One of the things I have noticed about successful people is that they are confident enough in their own abilities and opinions to not be swayed by the derision of others.

I think these qualities are strongly tied to self-esteem/self image and may relate to formative incidents in childhood where we felt that our opinions or views were not respected.


2) Taking the Safe Option


Another aspect of human psychology is a general aversion to risk.

This likely extends back to our evolutionary past where taking large risks could have fatal consequences.

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Safe is not always best long term.

In our modern lives most risks are not life threatening and we may exaggerate the threat that they pose.

Taking a new job opportunity, moving to a new city, launching a new product etc may present a risk in terms of financial (and often emotional) capital but I think we often still treat them as if they were life threatening situations.

In this sense our need for safety (hence taking the safe option) can actually hold us back.

I can think of multiple times when I went for the safe option and then wondered what would've happened if I hadn't.

There are many examples where I fell into this trap - such as not going to meet someone who offered me a new job because I was happy and comfortable where I was working, choosing a more boring post because it had greater job security/pay, even choosing to go on holiday to the same place because I already knew I would enjoy it.

It doesn't just apply to work though. How many times have you failed to take a chance in your personal life for fear of embarrassment? In many ways this is where this interfaces with point 1 about fearing what others will think.

The problem is that choosing the safe option can make you feel comfortable in the short term but it can leave you with a lot of "What If?" questions.

I think it would be sad to reach the end of your life and have a lot of such questions - in some ways it means that you haven't lived life to the full.


3) Fear of Failure


There is a strong culture in our society where failure is looked down on to a great degree.

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Fear of failure can hold us back.

I believe this is in part down to the litigous and blame oriented nature of the modern world.

If something goes wrong or does not work as planned someone MUST be to blame and hence must pay.

The problem with this is that failure is a natural and unavoidable part of life..

Ultimately this kind of fear holds us back from trying new things and reaching our full potential and it doesn't even work because we will still inevitably encounter failures.

The only way to completely avoid failure is to do nothing and that is not possible.

There have been many projects which I kept putting off starting and in many cases never started because of this fear.

In some cases I then watched other people do and succeed at what I should have done.

I now believe that failure is a normal process of challenging yourself and continuing to move forward.

If you have no failures then something is wrong - most likely you are not stretching yourself enough.


So How Did I Change Them?


I could pretend that I never behave in these ways any more and that I'm totally transformed but that would be a lie.

These are the strategies that I have found useful so far. They are not perfect and I can't say they will work for everyone. I also expect that I will continue to modify and evolve them as time goes on.

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1) Realise there is a problem

I think with anything like this you need to first realise that there is a problem. Realising it does not instantly change things though.

Real change takes time and effort. You have to overcome your fears to start breaking those habits and that is not always easy.

This is especially true of our social fears where we tend to magnify the significance of things that relate to us.


2) Observe those who are successful and learn from them


One of the things that I have found most effective is to observe and learn from more successful people.

Successful people rarely let these kind of fears hold them back - if at all.

That doesn't mean they are fearless - they just seem to be better at contextualising those fears and balancing them against the positive benefits of success.

They absolutely understand that things can and will go wrong. They just accept that as a necessary price for achieving their goals.

In essence successful people are better at managing their fears.

They can also be useful sources of information and little tips and tricks for improving your own success. Even if you don't talk to them directly, observational learning is a powerful tool.

If there is someone successful that you admire it can sometimes help to envisage how they would deal with a particular situation or opportunity.

Just this simple exercise can be a big help.


3) Take small steps

The other thing to do is to start with little steps.

So to use the example of overcoming the fear of failure - I wouldn't go straight to doing something huge.

If you want to change jobs it might make more sense to do some short courses in that subject area etc before you actually take the plunge.

If you're thinking of writing a novel for example, it might make more sense to start by writing a blog or short stories.

I have always wanted to write a medical textbook someday. As a means to reaching that goal and to improve my writing I started blogging.

Simply by doing that I discovered an entirely new hobby that I love doing. If I had never taken that step I would never have found Steemit.

I think the key to this is that by taking smaller steps you don't overwhelm yourself with fear and you also ensure that when you do inevitably fail, the impact of those failures is smaller.

This gives you more time to get used to them and become more resilient.


4) Review past decisions


This is important so that you can assess if you are actually making changes and handling things differently.

You have to be honest with yourself though.

You also have to be careful particularly if you have obsessive-compulsive tendencies (like me) that you don't ruminate too much over past decisions.

It is important to know what you did wrong so you can reduce the risk of it happening again but it is also important to draw a line under it.

I find mindful meditation helps with this as well as exercise.


Conclusion


I think many people will have particular fears that hold them back and stop them living life to the full.

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The specific nature of them will depend very much on your personality type.

The exact strategies that will help to counter them may also vary based on this and I for me at least I suspect this will be a life long effort as it is easy to slip back into old habits.

I could pretend that I now always go for the more exciting options in life but these kind of habits are hard to change (and more risky is not always better).

What do you think?

I would be interested to hear what kind of fears have held you back and how you dealt with them. Let me know in the comments.


Thank you for reading


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Thanks for the detailed article @thecryptofiend. I firmly believe that all fears arise in the mind. Society and environment does have its role to play but ultimately it is up to us to use our judgement and decide how to deal with it. Like attracts like that is the universal rule!

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Yes very good point! A lot of it is a matter of perception.

I feel you man, especially the first one. I have been worrying too much about what others think of me throughout the years, and I can tell you its silly. Not only because people dont really care that much, in fact you should be the only one judging you.

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Not only because people dont really care that much, in fact you should be the only one judging you.

Great point. I think that is a really common fear that defines many people's actions. It is silly - I think people are often more focussed on their own problems.

Numbers 1 & 2 have plagued me also. I feel assurance hearing that its plagued you too, being that I revere you as one of the few true intellectual blog writers on this platform. I always enjoy reading your posts. Thank you

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Thank you that is very kind. BTW it is so nice to hear from you mate! Hope all is going well with Thirsty Music?

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It's good to make contact again. I've been staying quiet, focusing on personal stuff.

@thirsty is still going strong. Attention has been shifted toward client services, so that we can get some revenue behind us. Hopefully we'll have more to announce again in coming months.

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Cool well hope all is well with the personal stuff - stay in touch. Drop me a line in the chat if you need help spreading the word on any Thirsty stuff. As I get busier it is hard for me to keep with everything.

I found your post amazing! Very useful and I will certainly follow your advice in my life. The "small steps" part opened my vision to understand why I delayed so many projects. In fact, we always manage to sabotage our plans even when we do not realize it.
I've started books for a long time and I'm not finished. I already created blogs and did not feed them. I did not give the foundation that my plans needed is patience and dedication.
Thank you for posting!

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Thank you for reading and commenting!

Thanks @cryptofiend! I have a tattoo that says : "To be brave is to simply not fear". It is the most important mantra I have since it was fear that crippled me for years that in my personal life froze me to stand by and allow my life to go out of control. The minute I took control and jumped toward my fears my life started. So your post is a reminder that not only did I make an amazing choice for ME, there are others that also struggle. Thanks

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You're welcome!

The Amygdala is an ancient part of the brain and processes fear, real or imagined. We have come to process hits to our wallet, reputation or self-esteem as life threatening. As well as threats to our culture and beliefs.

We are attached to our life biologically so fear is a protector but we have attached to our psychological selves and the amygdala cannot tell the difference between real and imagined threat.

Everyone should investigate deeply the mechanisms of fear. It would make a much better world for everyone.

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Yes very good points!

wonderful piece, wonder how I almost missed it? My contribution is this, so many times, people are afraid of what will happen that they do not see what is happening. Fear truly doesn't always keep us safe, sometimes it even aggravates the problem. Truthfully, most times, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself

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Yes I think so:)

I have experienced these exact same fears...in fact they had held me back from doing exactly what I am doing here on Steemit, sharing my thoughts and ideas with the world. For years I have thought about starting a blog or website, but for fear of what others would think or fear of failure I did nothing instead. Thanks to Steemit I have actually taken the plunge and can already use my experience here as motivation to take action on future ideas I have! Thanks Steemit, and thank you for sharing!

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That's true for me too. If it wasn't for Steemit I wouldn't have started blogging or writing for that matter!

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It helps that the people on here are so amazing and welcoming!

I look at it this way:

  1. There will always be problems you have to accept that and be ready to face them.
  2. This one is subjective, I tend to think that to be successful you have to be at the right place at the right time.
  3. Yes, small steps but be ready to take a big leap when you need to.
  4. The past is where you have received all the experience you now have, of course you have to look at your past and try to avoid mistakes you have made before.

Fear of the unknown is a very real threat to success, in fact I think it is the one greatest obstacle you will find.
Fear eats you up, I remember when I was a kid I watched a couple of vampire movies and I'm still scared of them even though I know the possibility of a vampire existing are very remote.

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Very well put. I think fear of the unknown is one of the greatest fears there is. It is why good horror films work and why people are frightened of things like ghosts.

Awesome Article.

Not taking risks might be the biggest risk one can take.

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That is one of the best ways I've heard it put. I wish I had used that as the title!

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Life is scary. No doubt about that. Just by watching my cat getting scared with every little surprise, I realize how humans go through these micro experiences every day, eventually holding them down.

The biggest risks I took, I gave no shit about my own life. It is liberating but also a bit fucked up.

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Yes and I think a lot of it is stuff we repress so we may hide the fact that these little "surprises" scare us but it all takes it's toll on an unconscious psychological level and a physiological level.

The biggest risks I took, I gave no shit about my own life.

I have been in similar situations and I think it an odd state because sometimes you can do great things in that state but also it can be quite destructive.

I think going too far towards any extreme can ultimately be bad.

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Indeed. Well, now I am older and for some reason I tend to give less and less shits about things. I think this is why old people tend to look more relaxed and really don't give a fuck about anything.

Time is a very peculiar concept.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Inspiring topic and post you've created. I was for some part of my life also risk avoiding. Postpone buying a house, stay longer with my employers than good for me. A couple of years ago I changed my career completely, took the opportunity to let myself go with a package and started a self employment life. Very exiting, but also scary. I manage my fears by thinking positive, not looking back at my decision, take it as it comes. Last years I had my ups and downs, but I love my freedom I created. I can enjoy longer vacations, can decide to sleep in on weekdays and so on. At times when things get rough, I try to look for solutions and most of the time there are solutions, maybe not always those you like, but hey, nothing is always 100% sunny. Of course I still have my fears, but so far I'm able to manage them providing me overall a better life than before the change from being an employee to be self employed.

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Looks like you have done really well in managing those fears! Thank you for sharing.

Fear is overcomed by accepting it. Try to fear more that thing you fear the most, fear it all the time. And you will see how fear perishes and you become fearless. I enjoyed reading your article but it's not that easy for some people. It's years of practicing and huge amount of determination to wellbeing of one's soul and life. Upvoted!

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Thank you!

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Welcome!

Awesome post!! Especially the fear of failure. I truly believe that if you don't experience failures the. You are not trying hard enough. And more importantly, your learn from your failures! So keep failing😀

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Thank you:) I think you make a great point there!

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meep

Very good article.. Most of the people falls for these 3 years.. Good write up to show them up how they can get past those fears and reach for their goals...

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Thanks!

When I thought about the 3 fears myself I tried to answer them without reading your post. Now that I've read them I can say they are exactly the same! Limiting self-thoughts are so destructive, and growth will happen when those limits disappear! Upvoted!

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Thanks. Yes I think they certainly can be.

Love the post man! #2 and #3 were big problems (now a bit smaller) and it had alot to do with the mindset of my family members while I was growing up.

Touched on this fear in a post a few days back when I asked "Where Does Your Fear Come From?" Whether it's one, two or three....the fear stems from somewhere. Environment growing up, a specific event, etc.

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Thanks so much.

Touched on this fear in a post a few days back when I asked "Where Does Your Fear Come From?" Whether it's one, two or three....the fear stems from somewhere. Environment growing up, a specific event, etc.

Cool thanks I will check it out!

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Oh, cool. I was just sharing a point, but always appreciate the visit! :-)

taking small steps is the toughest part but once you master it everything is achievable

Very insightful post. With me I can adhere to good information but tend to slip back into old habits making me like an old car that needs regular tune ups.

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I think most of us are like that. It is something we need to keep working on.

Courtesy of my main man, Dr. Jordan Peterson. From the Joe Rogan podcast. A short video, very concise, a great addition to your great post.

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Thanks in fact I have hear a lot of good things about him from people that I trust. I will add it to my YT playlist for when I have some time to listen:)

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I really like this video actually. He seems to have a good grasp on this, and this is very relevant to the original post. I think I'm going to do something I would normally have been afraid to do today!

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i knew you were afraid to send me 2 SBD. Don't be! :)

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:)

I love your post!
It feels like this.please-sit-down-l1.jpg

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most beautiful picture I have seen in quite some time

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Thanks!

Good read.

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Thank you:)

Wow there is so much truth in your post. I will give a try to all those advices. Upvote + I will follow you ;)

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Thanks let me know how it goes or if you have any of your own tips!

It's much harder to stay at the bottom

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Not sure what you mean.

I left this on another post but will leave this here as well because it is relevant. Also not giving a fuck what people think of you is one of the most freeing things you can do.

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Yes. Thanks I will give it a watch shortly.

I enjoy reading. ... so it's only natural that after some time you start thinking. Thanks for your post

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You're welcome:)

Amazing post friend :) I've been through the same path as you. At the end, there is a gentle breeze guiding you to where you have to be.

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Thank you!

This is an amazing post @thecryptofiend! I have to say I find myself and my fears dictating my life almost daily. These three fears that you mentioned should not be the dictator of my life, and the tips you've laid out here are something I am going to deeply consider. Even fear itself is a scary thought, intrinsically perpetuating the restrictions of fears and anxieties. So helpful again! Love the post :D

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Thank you so much!

This is a highly comprehensive post giving an insight on how best to go about life and handling our fears, I sure did learn a lot from it..thanks for sharing friend :)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment:)

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You are most welcome friend :)

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:)

Taking risks yields great rewards :) Having confidence in yourself and believing that you will never succeed unless you try is another way of helping facing your fears! Great post. Very interesting :)

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Thanks!

The important point (for me) is that we have an innate tendency, for evolutionary reasons as you very well mention, to protect us in excess. However, human beings have an advantage over other animals and is that we have developed a spectacular degree of consciousness, especially awareness of our own existence (The self). This same awareness we can use it to "speak to ourselves" and make us understand that almost always the fear we feel is not proportional to the potential risks, is in reality an illusion or a half-truth.

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Yes.

Thank you for the post @thecryptofiend , it is also most challenging to forgive yourself for the perception of past failures leading to the present debacle. Faith faith faith !

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Thanks!

superb post great thinking true for me

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Thank you.

thanks i will apply this in my life

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Cool let me know how you get on or if you discover some extra tips yourself.

I applaud you for addressing this very real issue that virtually all of us have to deal with on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing!

Upvoted!

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Thank you for your kind words.

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You're welcome, my friend!

Definitely taking the safe option has shaped my decisions. Certain choices can have an impact on loved ones so protecting them can sometimes hold me back. Thanks for posting!

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Thanks for sharing your experience:)

Taking the Safe Option :D

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I think that is a big one!

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Yes, surely everyone choose Safe Options

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Yes of course you should make a plan

This is an amazing post my friend. Your writing style is very natural since I can relate to my problems and when you say I what I read is me. Some wonderful observations about life. Cheers!!!!!

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Thank you for your kind words:)

Self-reflection is the only way to realize our fears and mistakes, and correct them. Most people don't stop to reflect on their choices and actions, which in the long term causes anxiety.

I used to care about what people thought as well. As I get older, I see this tendency fade away to the point that I no longer care. I think it might be a matter of age as well. Teenagers like to explore through group formations. As people grow older, they each find their own individual meaning in life and usually get more independent. The gradual achievement of personal goals such as family or career, helps in self-confidence.

About successful people, I'm not sure. I'm assuming you mean successful in business or with their social circle. Some of these people are successful precisely because of their fears. A person who is dead scared of being alone, will create the biggest social circle possible. A person who is afraid of failure might spend the most productive and energetic years of his life trying to prove that he is worth something, becoming successful as a side effect.

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A person who is afraid of failure might spend the most productive and energetic years of his life trying to prove that he is worth something, becoming successful as a side effect.

That's the point though. In some cases we allow fears to get in our way and stop us doing things. If someone uses those fears in a positive way and actually does something then it is not really a problem.

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That's true. But it can be a problem if you dedicate your life into something not because you are really enjoying it but because you want to prove to yourself (and others) that you are successful, strong, etc. There are many people I can think of who do things in order to impress and be accepted by others, not because they are really enjoying them. In this case they are not paralyzed by fear but they are using it as a wrong motivation.

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Very true.

I can so relate to this post

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Thanks I'm glad you like it.

Your post seems to me excellent so that the people have a different persepcion of the life, a little more free and happy of the normal conducts. As a human being it is difficult to put into practice what you mention, since it is a behavior acquired since children, but accepting reality makes everything flow. upvote and followed

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Thank you. Yes life-long habits can be hard to break.

So no STOP, keep FIGHT

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Yes.

Helpful and realistic post ! thank you so much @thecryptofiend !

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Thanks I'm glad you found it useful!

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Thank you so much !

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You're welcome!

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Great Pleasure !

Great article!

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Thank you!

I think when people are getting closer to the end of their lives, far more often, they regret the things they didn't do. I believe that much less often, they say "There was a time in my life when I tried XYZ New Thing, and I regret ever attempting that."

Excellent post, resteemed!

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Thanks! Yes exactly you don't want to get to the end of your life and have regrets.

Great piece! This is so true for me as well. Taking those small steps is oh so hard....

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Yes but worth it.

Great post - I see a lot of my own fears listed above and ways in which I have tried to overcoming them. I'm not totally successful but I'm getting there.

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Thanks. I think that is the best we can do.

resteemed!

Great points you've put. By the way ... as a new Steemit member .. I love the time you've taken to format this post. As a visual designer, just tingles my innards :) You've given me a better idea of how I should format my posts for neat and easy reading.

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Thank you:)

Exactly the same 3 fears over here

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I think many people have them :)

No 1 never bothered me, number 2 sometimes, number 3 also sometimes. Although I seem to learn more when I fail and do it again.

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Interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Thank you for this! I believe fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of being perceived as a failure are huge barriers to success, ones which I constantly struggle with myself.

The funny thing is, the more a person is concerned with failure, the less they will be focused on succeeding, or making the efforts to succeed. Being paralyzed by fear SUCKS, but it can be overcome with a bit of effort and perseverance.

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Yes.

nicely put man, great post

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Thanks mate!

This is the stuff I deal with on a dailybasis.

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I think many people struggle with these sorts of issues. Once we are aware of them we can start to working on changing things.

Could relate to each one of them! Great post :)
Thanks for sharing

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You're welcome. Thanks!

Great tips @thecryptofiend! "One of the things that I have found most effective is to observe and learn from more successful people" this one has been a great help to me too. While we were setting up our company and we quit our jobs I was in a lot of fear of not having enough money to pay the rent and food! Everything turned out just fine and on the way I learned to tackle my fears, by living from day to day and stop worrying about money so much!

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That is awesome Amy - it sounds like a great idea for a post:)

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I'll keep that in mind ;) Thnx!