7 Common Fears Keeping You Stuck on the Sidelines of Your Life


Fear is incredibly powerful as a motivator, and it’s something that everyone experiences.  But, the degree to which each person feels fear, and more importantly, allows their fears to dictate their actions, varies per individual.

For a large portion of society, fear serves to keep them sidelined, as they stand frozen in the face of their fears.

While other people appear to be fearless, never exhibiting signs of fear and seemingly made of steel.

But, no one is without fear.  Those ‘fearless’ individuals experience fear just like everyone else, but what sets them apart is that they don’t allow those fears to keep them from moving forward.

They feel the fear, and they blaze through them.

If you find yourself saddled by too much fear and it’s preventing you from figuring out what you truly want in life and creating that as your reality, it’s time to get familiar with your fears and work with them, instead of against them.

To help you with that endeavor, I’m going to introduce you to 7 common fears that keep people stuck in their Midlife Muck and what you can do about it!

7 Common Fears Keeping You on the Sidelines of Your Life

1::  Fear of Failure

Fear of failing is such a common fear and one that is introduced to people as children - If you fail a test, you’re not smart enough.

Because of this unhealthy mindset, most people navigate life with the incorrect assumption that “failing” = bad.

The idea of failing brings on fears of being embarrassed or judged negatively by others.  It brings on shame because there’s an assumption that it reflects on you, personally.

As a result, if you fear failure, you’ll likely set lower standards for yourself and limit your goals to within safe zones (i.e., ‘easy’ to achieve goals).  You’ll also likely avoid anything too challenging to prevent the possibility of falling short of the task.

But, people who succeed in spite of their fears know that “failing” is part of the path to success and embrace these opportunities as avenues to learn more and course correct.

The best way to overcome this fear is to not worry about the outcome, and instead, focus on the process to get there.  

2:: Fear of Success

The fear of success may sound counterintuitive at first pass.  If you have a dream, why would one fear actually achieving that dream?

But, at the heart of the fear of success could be a number of things:

  • The fear of change (that success may bring)

  • The fear of the responsibilities that may come with the success

  • The fear of being in over your head (hello, imposter syndrome!)

  • The fear of the attention you may receive from others (and subsequently being judged)

  • The fear of being more vulnerable

  • The fear of the work involved

  • The fear of what it’ll take to keep it going once success is achieved (i.e., the fear of losing it once attained)

As you can see, the fear of success is a mask for a whole host of other fears, where the ‘success’ is just the trigger for what comes next.  And, what happens next is the unknown element that is the true source of your fear.

The best way to overcome this fear focus on the steps directly in front of you and keep moving forward. Most of the fears around success are the result of writing epic fear stories around all the “what ifs” your mind loves to write.

3::  Fear of Rejection

The fear of rejection taps into the biological need for strong social ties.  Essentially, it’s the fear of being excluded from the group.

Along with this come a host of other fears:

  • The fear of being judged

  • The fear of not being liked

  • The fear of not being “part of the crowd”

  • The fear of being alone

When you are saddled with this fear, you tend to make safe choices, so you remain part of the crowd and don’t stand out.  You also probably never make the ask, because you don’t want the ‘no’ that may come along with it.  And, you never really try because you don’t want to risk being outcast from the crowd.

To overcome rejection fears,  you have to make the ask and put yourself out there regardless of the potential risk.  If you do get rejected, remind yourself that those aren’t your people, and turn your attention and energy elsewhere.

4:: The Fear of Inadequacy

The fear of inadequacy can be a very painful fear to try to face.  This is because it’s rooted in low self-esteem.  This may have been born from shamed in the past, and as a result, you now believe you’re not capable of achieving anything substantial.

Leaning into this fear leads you to not trying, or not fully trying because you lack the confidence to believe you can do it.  As a result, this fear can be self-fulfilling - you don’t believe you can achieve something, so you don’t put in your full effort, which means you don’t succeed and in your mind, this “proves” your theory that you lack the necessary skills or knowledge.

The best way to overcome inadequacy fears is to start small, put in your best effort, and prove your limiting belief wrong.  The more you prove to yourself that you are capable, the quicker you can put this one in the rearview mirror.

5::  The Fear of the Unknown

The fear of the unknown is SO common that it likely underlies many of your other fears.  At the root of this one is the fear of the outcome. 

There’s uncertainty if you succeed, uncertainty if you fail.  There’s also a fear of being judged and of what you’ll need to encounter while you walk the unknown path.

Humans tend to crave certainty.  If you suffer from this fear, you probably like to prepare in advance, to see all of the steps involved, and then to stick with that carefully curated plan.

The problem with leaning into this fear is that you fail to explore and to discover things you never imagined for yourself.  You likely don’t try new things, and you end up missing out on a more fulfilling life.

The thing about the unknown is that is where magic you crave is waiting for you.

The best way to overcome this fear is to focus only on the one or two steps in front of you that you can clearly see and plan, so you aren’t distracted by the murkier steps in later stages.  Also, you have to learn to trust yourself and know that you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way.

6::  The Fear of Appearing Selfish

Women have been subconsciously taught since the beginning of time that doing anything for yourself, means you’re selfish.  There’s also a strong belief that being selfish is a terrible thing to be and no one wants to be seen in this light.

If this is you, you likely prioritize your energy, attention, and focus on everyone’s else’s needs instead of your own.

But, the problem with taking that approach to life is that it inevitably leads to burnout and resentment.  It’s an incredibly unhealthy mindset to have and leads to actions that minimize your needs and overall well-being.

The problem with putting everyone’s needs above your own is that you're basing your worthiness on other people's opinions. So, when things change, and others don’t “need” you as much anymore, you feel useless or worthless.

The best way to overcome this fear is to re-evaluate what it means to be selfish and include yourself in your priority list.  Then, start small and carve out time for yourself.

7::  The Fear of Other People’s Opinions

The fear of what others think of you is all too common.  When this fear rears its ugly head, it means you place too much focus on the opinion others have of you (#obviously!).

You assume they’re judging or thinking badly of you, or that you don’t measure up to this invisible yardstick of “enough.

Listen, it’s fine to be concerned with what others think of you, but when it keeps you from following your desires or taking actions that are out of alignment with your true self, you prevent yourself from growing and evolving.

By allowing others to control your choices indirectly, you follow someone else’s idea of a “good life,” which means you will likely feel out of alignment, exhausted, and defeated.

The best way to overcome judgement fears is to remind yourself that you can’t possibly know what others think of you.  And, even if you did, it’s likely a product of their own insecurities and doesn’t have anything to do with you!

Final Thoughts

When you’re faced with palm-sweating, heart-pumping fear, you may feel powerless to do anything about it.  But, in reality, you have the ability to push through that fear to not only survive, but thrive.

When you understand what underlies your fears and you face them, you strengthen that inner resilience muscle, which will pave the way for a much more exciting and fulfilling life.

Rarely, if ever, do you find what you deeply desire within the confining walls of your comfort zone, so learning to manage and overcome your fears will allow you to maximize your potential and limit regrets.