Why is it so hard to face our fears?


I read a short story recently called ‘Who moved my cheese’ by Dr Spencer Johnson. This simple parable is a great look at how our belief system shapes us, why we are so fearful of the unknown and what we can do differently.

I want to share with you in this article, once we face our fears and jump into the ‘unknown’, it usually isn’t half as bad as we thought it would be. In addition, we can be stronger and more resilient as a result.

We usually create all kinds of barriers and we often ‘worry’ or ‘catastroprise’ in our own mind as to how bad an event might be, usually unnecessarily. We then tend to go over and over this in our minds. Can you resonate?

When we reach the actual event in question however, you will find the majority of the time, its not nearly as bad as you thought, compared to that ‘rehearsal’ time in our minds. Remember however, every time we continually go over a stressful events in our minds, the subconscious doesn’t know the difference between reality and imagination. Your body will therefore be experiencing the same thoughts and feelings, as if the actual event was taking place. Can that be good for a healthy body and mind do you think? I would suggest certainly not.

Let me give you an example. When I first started my training many years ago as a Probation officer, it came to the time in my career while I was a trainee that I had to interview an offender for a Pre-Sentence Report. Now this was no easy feat. Well it wasn’t in my head anyway. I had to prepare for this interview, and be fully versed with all the right (what felt like 100’s) questions I needed to ask this man. This was to ensure I presented a balanced report to the judge in Court to show all this information this man had provided me including a thorough assessment of the man, his offence and the risk he presented.

Not only that however, I got myself into a mini blind panic. What if this mean ugly offender was horrible to me? What if he was obstinate and didn’t answer all my questions? What if he was aggressive and abusive? What if I fluffed all the questions and forgot to ask him a load of stuff? You get the picture, the list went on and on. The long and short of it was this. I was in a panic about interviewing this what I assumed would be a mean and nasty man and that it would all go wrong. I went over and over it in my head continually, for days. In addition, due to all my worrying, I hardly slept a wink of sleep in the days running up to the interview, I was in a right mess!

So all this was going on in my own head, think of all the energy I was wasting.

Finally the day of the big interview came. This big burly man walked into the interview room and I hesitantly introduced myself and began to start to explain the process to him, before I went into the interview proper. Well can you guess what happened? The whole thing went like clock work. The offender was as nice as pie, answering all my questions in a friendly manner. There was no issue whatsoever.

So why was I in such a panic and then everything turned out aright? The way I was feeling was based on my own belief structure. I had the belief that perhaps all offenders were going to be scary and uncooperative. I also had the belief holding me back that I was inexperienced in this role and therefore due to an underlying lack of confidence in my own ability that I was going to mess it up.

I would also point out that during that entire time, there was a such an amount of wasted energy on my part. Would you agree?

Most of us struggle to be in the ‘now’. After all, this is the only time we’ve got. The past has gone and the future isn’t here yet. However, we often spend so much wasted energy unnecessarily ‘worrying’ about what the future will hold. This is usually based on past experiences where we may have failed at something or been told we cannot do/ achieve something (usually from an early age). We will have then internalised that old belief, which often then keeps us stuck. The good news is, we don’t need to remain so, we can do something about it.

When I ask people what is our greatest fear, I often receive the response ‘failure’. Have a think to yourself for a minute. Why do you think that is? Why are most people afraid to fail? Well firstly it takes us out of our comfort zone. Its like taking our favourite comfy slippers off. It’s the fear of the unknown. Its the fear of what others might think. What might others judgments be of us? (remember at this point, everyone has judgements, based on their own attitude and belief systems, I wouldn’t waste too much energy attempting to change others judgements, but perhaps look at your response and how that may be affective for yourself).

We need to do something over and over to often learn. Remember, there are no mistakes in life, only lessons. If we won first time at every single thing we did in life, how would we then learn? Everything handed on a plate.. wheres the learning there?

If everything was a plateau in life, no ups or downs, things would be pretty boring and mundane, right?

Another favourite of mine is by the wonderful Dr Robert Anthony – ‘There is no failure, only feedback’. If we didn’t ‘fail’ or learn from our mistakes, there would be no growth. So next time you look at a task, or something you want to achieve, consider that you may get it wrong. You may have to step out of your comfort zone. You may have to face some fears and challenges. I will tell you now, you wont regret it for a moment and it will allow you to develop and grow as a person, on a number of levels.

If you want to know more about how change can be made, and often much easier than you might think, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Or have a check at what others have said on my website.


Until next time, stay awesome! Janine