What really is fear?

Fear is an emotion that we all experience at some point in our lives. It can manifest in various ways, such as fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of loss, and so on.

Did you know we are born with two types of fear?

Yes! it is true the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds.We also can define our fears into two categories; innate fear and learned fear. Innate fear refers to the fear that we are born with, which is thought to be a result of evolution and natural selection. These innate fears are hardwired in our brains and are triggered by stimuli that have been associated with danger throughout human evolution. Examples of innate fears include the fear of falling, the fear of loud noises, and the fear of certain animals.
On the other hand, research has shown that fear learned fear is acquired through experience and conditioning. This type of fear is a result of our environment and is learned through interactions with the world around us. For example, growing up Mum was always afraid of dogs and we learned that this was something we also were afraid off, especially when they chased our bikes! However the more time we spent with dogs and got to know them we realised it wasn’t our fear at all.

Fear can be a significant and hard barrier to achieving our goals!


Both innate and learned fear play important roles in our survival and well-being. Innate fear helps us respond quickly to potential threats and avoid danger, while learned fear helps us learn from our experiences and adapt to our environment. However, sometimes learned fear can become maladaptive, leading to excessive or irrational fear responses to situations that are not actually dangerous.

Even when we believe our stalled progress is due to other people’s objections, insufficient resources, or uncontrollable circumstances, it is often fear that keeps us from finding a way around obstacles and achieving our dreams. Here are some common fears and strategies to help overcome them:

Fear of Failure:

  • Catastrophic thinking is a common characteristic of those who fear failure. They expect the worst, believing that if they do not succeed, disaster will follow.
  • To overcome this fear, envision the terrible consequences you fear, then analyse the situation rationally. How likely is it that your worst fear will materialise? Challenge your fears by telling yourself that you have handled setbacks before and can rise to the occasion.
  • Make a list of everything in your life that didn’t turn out as you planned but ultimately worked out for the best.

Fear of Success:

  • Some people are stopped by the fear of what will happen if they succeed. This fear is often based on preconceptions formed in childhood, from our parents’ beliefs or what we observed in the adults around us.
  • To overcome this fear, ask yourself what you stand to gain by not succeeding. Identify the assumptions that underlie your thinking and determine their validity.

Fear of Being Imperfect:

  • Perfectionists may avoid pursuing opportunities if they are not sure they will excel at them. They may lose out on learning and growing from mistakes, wasting time on details because they’re afraid to delegate, and don’t trust anyone else to do the job right.
  • To overcome this fear, delegate a minor task and keep quiet if it’s done adequately but not brilliantly. Try a hobby you might like, but think you won’t do well at. Your confidence and ability to take risks will grow as you learn to survive looking silly.

Fear of Disapproval:

  • If you feel you must be liked by everyone, you’ll waste energy trying to satisfy people who are insignificant in your life. Or you may postpone making overtures to people who could help you.
  • To overcome this fear, create a support team of friends and family members that you can rely on to build you up when you are down. Keep an “ego file” and save letters and emails in which people have complimented or thanked you.

Fear of Change:

  • Even when we want things to be different, change can make us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.
  • To overcome this fear, build as much familiarity as possible into any new situation. Identify daily routines that make you feel anchored and content, and pick at least three of these anchors, and resolve to continue doing them every day, no matter what else happens.

Additional Fear-Busting Strategies:

  • Take a leap of faith. Don’t talk yourself out of what you want because you are unsure of the outcome.
  • Make ‘what-ifs’ positive rather than negative. Something like “What if my business expanded by 20% next year, what would I do?” is more helpful than, asking “How do I achieve growth?” Focus on positive possibilities instead of unknowns that frighten us.
  • Keep your pipeline full. Continually build your network of contacts, be generous with time and expertise, and create a safety net for when you are in need. Often when we are focussed on what matters, we eliminate time for doubt and fear to grow. Check out our recent blog post on tips to hone your focus.