Halloween is just around the corner, and shops are filled with fun costumes like witches and pirates. Even when we wear a tricky disguise, we are still ourselves underneath the facade. The same is true when it comes to fear! Fear is sneaky because it dresses up like different characters and deceives us. Some of the costumes are so clever that we don't even realize that we're being fooled.
When I started my wellness business, I experienced lots of different challenges. Some days I would be paralyzed with confusion about a decision that I had to make. Other days, I would keep doing the same task over and over until it was perfect—one time I recorded a video 14 times before I was satisfied. I thought that maybe I wasn't cut out to be an entrepreneur, but then I talked to some really successful professionals and realized that I was being duped—by fear!
Here are five sneaky ways that fear may be affecting you without you realizing it:
How to identify it: There are so many daily decisions to be made about life and work. Having too many choices becomes stressful! And research shows that if you have too many options, the choices can paralyze you. FOMO (fear of missing out) is one of the biggest reasons we freeze—we don't want to make the wrong decision and have regrets.
The solve: Luckily, there are solutions for the choice paradox. Slow down. Be mindful. Listen to your gut. And let go of the outcome. There are very few decisions that are going to matter in the long run. If none of your choices are meeting your high standards, you may be confronting the second face of fear.
How to identify it: If you find yourself frequently thinking: "I'm not ready" or "It's not good enough," there's a high chance that you're a perfectionist. I know that I am. I've put off all kinds of things like writing and public speaking because I was afraid that I would make a fool of myself.
The solve: I guarantee that the first time you try something, you're not going to be good at it. Who cares! If you're driven by passion, a mission to serve, and a deep longing to help others, get out there and be your imperfectly perfect self. You don't have to do it perfectly; you just have to do it.
How to identify it: How many times do you check social media when you should be doing work? How many times have you said you are going to quit your job and follow your dreams? How many times do you miss a deadline and then beat yourself up about it? This silly behavior is a disguise for fear of failing. And you're not alone! Over 80 percent of college students and 20 percent of adults are plagued by procrastination.
The solve: Next time you're stressing over your failure to start or finish something, stare fear right in the face and say: "Hey there, I feel you, but I'm going to do it anyway." Everything you want is on the other side of that feeling.
4. Pain and Anxiety
How to identify it: Fear shows up in the body through physical pain and fatigue. Sometimes it's a heaviness or lack of energy; other times it's aches and soreness. During really stressful times, fear may even cause severe anxiety or panic attacks. As a wellness entrepreneur, I have to be really mindful about my self-care so that I don't become susceptible to this kind of illness.
The solve: I need to shake off this sneaky fear with healthy food, consistent exercise, and a strong support system. Luckily, I also have many wellness tools like yoga and meditation that can help me clear the fear and get back to balance!
5. Being "Busy"
How to identify it: There is so much pressure in modern life to be busy all the time. We fill up the workday, the social calendar, and the to-do lists with a million things that "have" to get done. Sometimes this busy-ness is necessary, but sometimes it's just another clever disguise for fear. If I'm too busy doing laundry and answering emails and posting on social media to do "that thing" that will help me grow or succeed, then the busy-ness is really just a distraction, another form of procrastination.
The solve: Carving out a little quiet time every day to get clarity about my intentions and set my priorities is the best way for me to stay on the right path.
I don't think we can eliminate or conquer all fear. And I don't believe in being fearless. I think that fear is a natural emotion, and it serves a purpose—to protect us. But I believe that we can improve our awareness of the places where fear is hiding in our life or holding us back so that it doesn't sabotage us. Pull off those masks and see fear for what it really is! Just a familiar face in an unusual costume.