Primary Blog/The Debilitating Power of Fear

The Debilitating Power of Fear

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Debilitating Power of Fear

Unravelling its Grip on My Life

Fear has been both my companion and tormentor throughout my life. It has the uncanny ability to shape my thoughts, decisions, and actions.

It's hindered my personal growth, limited my potential, and prevented me from doing so much with my life.

Fear reared its ugly head again last week.

The Trigger

I have an innate fear of the dentist.

A fear rooted deep in childhood trauma — my mum says the event wasn't as bad as the stories I tell myself, but that's a topic for another time!

The treatment was a simple filling; the issue was the needle.

I hate needles.

I can induce a fainting episode just by thinking about a needle!

So the night before, my thoughts were enough to ensure I didn't get any sleep at all.

Sleep deprivation just makes things worse; fear now grows and takes on a life of its own, feeding off our thoughts and emotions.

So, by the time the appointment came around, I was a mess.

But my dentist knows me and was prepared.

Her opening line...

"Karen, we are both leaders, but when you sit in this chair you have to let me lead."

That one sentence unlocked a lifetime of fear.

Did I like the needle? NO!

But did I listen to her instructions? YES!

And the event passed without any drama.

The Impact

I realised we all need to let someone else take the lead at certain points in our lives.

And that people in my community are looking for that level of leadership, even if, like me, they haven't quite figured this out yet.

So, I talked with someone who has steered me throughout my life, like the older sister I never had.

We talked about how that one line unlocked something that I need to build into the coaching I give others.

We talked about the fears that other contractors and consultants face as they run their businesses alone.

The type of fears that keep them awake at night

And we talked about how we're going to make this happen. She is far more qualified than I am to bring this to life!

The Day After

Friday was a lighter day (it was my birthday 🎂), but I'm now equipped with a heightened sense of understanding.

This Is The Way... has been my mantra for a while now.

I usually launch into 'fix it' mode when presented with any problem.

But today is different.

There are people in my community who are facing their own fears.

Contractors without contracts.

Consultants without clients.

Small business owners without customers.

All needing cash.

And I know how to get clients and bring cash in.

But today I don't launch into simply telling them what to do.

I know they need something else as well.

They need to let someone else take the lead.

And that's exactly what I've done - for those that let me.

There are a few who are still too scared of needles to put their trust in someone else... for now!


I started the first draft of this newsletter as most of us do now—I asked ChatGPT!

If you want a more clinical version of why fear is so debilitating, the output is copied below.

Sometimes there's just comfort in knowing you're not alone and we all face the same fears.

Let me know which copy you prefer?

The Nature of Fear

Fear is a natural response to perceived threats, enabling us to survive in dangerous situations. It triggers a complex cascade of physiological and psychological reactions, preparing our bodies for fight, flight, or freeze responses. While this primal instinct serves a crucial purpose in acute situations, chronic and irrational fears can become a hindrance.

Fear and the Imaginary

One of the reasons fear can be so debilitating is its ability to thrive in the realm of the imaginary. Our minds are adept at conjuring vivid scenarios of potential dangers, regardless of their probability. These fears, often rooted in anxiety or trauma, can grow and take on a life of their own, feeding off our thoughts and emotions. They restrict our ability to take risks, try new things, and embrace the unknown, ultimately trapping us within the confines of our comfort zones.

Fear and Decision-Making

Fear exercises a strong influence on decision-making, often leading us to choose the path of least resistance. It clouds our judgment, distorts our perception of reality, and amplifies negative outcomes. The fear of failure, rejection, or criticism can discourage us from pursuing our dreams and aspirations. It fosters self-doubt and robs us of the confidence necessary to take bold steps forward. In this way, fear can hold us back from achieving our true potential.

Fear and Emotional Well-being

Fear not only affects our mental and emotional well-being but also takes a toll on our physical health. Chronic fear triggers the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, leading to heightened anxiety, weakened immune system, sleep disturbances, and a range of other adverse effects. The constant state of fear can create a vicious cycle, perpetuating the very anxieties we seek to avoid.

Overcoming Fear

While fear may be deeply ingrained in our psyche, it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Recognizing and understanding our fears is the first step toward reclaiming our power. Here are some strategies to help overcome fear:

1. Awareness and Acceptance: Acknowledge and confront your fears. Understand that fear is a natural emotion but need not dictate your choices and actions.

2. Rational Evaluation: Challenge the validity of your fears by critically examining the evidence and questioning your assumptions. Often, we find that our fears are based on imagined scenarios rather than concrete reality.

3. Gradual Exposure: Gradually expose yourself to the objects, situations, or activities that trigger fear. By facing your fears in a controlled manner, you can desensitise yourself and build resilience.

4. Mindfulness and Self-Care: Practice mindfulness techniques to cultivate a sense of presence and reduce anxiety. Engage in self-care activities that promote relaxation and well-being.

5. Seek Support: Share your fears with trusted friends, family, or a professional. Their support and guidance can provide a fresh perspective and help you develop coping strategies.

​Fear is a powerful force that can hold us hostage, preventing us from living our lives to the fullest. However, by understanding the nature of fear and employing effective strategies, we can gradually diminish its hold on us. Embracing courage, challenging our fears, and stepping outside our comfort zones allows us to break free from the shackles of fear and open ourselves.

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