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5 Ways Fear Sabotages Your Goals

How often do you want a goal, but don't do anything about it? It's a dream that's always in the back of your mind, but you keep yourself from moving forward on your desire. Maybe you tried half-heartedly to achieve it, and when you failed, it reinforced your belief that it was better not to try.

Maybe you want to go back to school or learn a new skill, but you talk yourself out of of trying. Or do you want to make a lifestyle change, such as eating better or getting more exercise. Do you want a better job or to promote your business more, but pull back whenever you start to make plans? What is it that holds you back and sabotages your progress? Most of the the time, your resistance is due to fear.

Fear is designed to keep you safe, to protect you in dangerous or threatening situations. It's part of the fight, flight or freeze syndrome that distress causes, where you have the adreniline to fight a danger or flee from it. It's an ancient survival skill that our caveman ancestors needed to avoid being mauled and killed by saber toothed tigers.

Anger causes you to fight against a threat. Fear is the part that causes you to flee from a menace or freeze so the danger can't see you. But in our modern world, the syndrome isn’t always triggered by being in physical jeopardy. Nowadays, a mental, emotional or perceived threat can trip the switch. And in those cases, fear can paralyze you, keeping you from taking action.

When you become aware of your pattern, then you can combat this primal urge. Here are some of the ways that fear can sabotage you.

1. You stay in your comfort zone. Stepping out of the familiar for something new is scary. You don't know whether you'll succeed or how it will turn out. By keeping you where you are, your subconscious is trying to keep you safe. But everyone feels fearful when they're in unfamiliar territory, even the most successful person you know. Fear is simply part of the package when you want to grow and make progress.

2. You give up before you even try. Because you think you won’t succeed, you figure, "Why bother?" You don't want to put out the effort to make changes and then fail, which will make you feel worse. So you continue to build dream castles of "How it would be…" Albert Einstein said, "You never fail until you stop trying." So even if you first dozen tries don't succeed, learn from each attempt, and keep working toward your goal.

3. You don't feel you deserve what you want. Sometime in the past, you believed the lie someone told you that you weren't worth having what you wanted. Or that you hadn't labored, struggled or paid your dues to succeed. So you reinforce your bad opinion of yourself by keeping yourself from taking action. You don't have to feel better about yourself before you start working towards your goal. Taking that action will actually start building a better self-image.

4. You make excuses not to act. Whenever you consider taking action, you start getting uncomfortable. Instead of accepting the discomfort and going ahead anyway, you back off. The chance of achieving your goal conflicts with old, negative programming about yourself. It would show that you're successful, competant, have abilities, or somehow challenge false beliefs about yourself. If you take action, the subconscious tries to keep you in the status quo to keep you safe. So you retreat, and confirm your negative beliefs. But these beliefs are wrong. If you have the desire and the persistance, you'll grow into being able to handle your goal.

5. You prefer to let things happen. Instead of working towards what you want, you go with the flow or wherever the wind blows you. When what you want doesn't happen, you justify it with, "It wasn't meant to be," and feel helpless. Instead of living in the present, you're responding to an old fear of empowerment. If you were to see that acting on your choices impacts your life in a positive way, you'd have no more excuses to living in the shadows. Take control of your life. Make a decision, and start acting on it. Even if you go in the wrong direction, you'll gain momentum and gain better information once you're moving.

It's been said that fear is simply "False Evidence Appearing Real." You learned ways to cope when you were young, and misinterpreted much of what you absorbed. Other people fed you negative opinions about youreself, which were self-serving. The only time fear is beneficial is when you are truly in danger. And setting out to improve your life isn't one of those times. As one of my mentors said, "Fear isn't guidance or a sign that you shouldn't proceed."

One way to deal with fear is to take action anyway. You give the emotion a positive conduit and transform it into energy for positive change. When you're moving, you'll find your path isn't so frightening. Take it one step at a time, even baby steps, if necessary. You'll have setbacks, but dedicate yourself to keep progressing a little each day. With each small win, you'll build confidence. Success breeds success and makes the next step easier.

Copyright © 2009-2023 Linda Ann Stewart
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As a focus coach, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, freedom, wellbeing and prosperity. Register for her FREE Design Your Best Day guide and guided meditation at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.


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