Are You Living a Life Controlled By Fear?

Man with his hand on his face.

Are You Living a Life Controlled By Fear?

At some point in your life, you’ve probably experienced fear. Maybe when you were a kid, you were afraid of the monsters under your bed or of creepy clowns jumping out of boxes. 

Fear can take many shapes and sizes. Some fears may be abstract, like failure, loneliness, rejection, or judgment. Since these types of fears typically can’t be disproven with facts, it’s easier to become wrapped up in them. Some fears are specific and based on objects or circumstances. This could be a fear of snakes, heights, or germs. 

Fear is supposed to prevent you from entering dangerous situations. However, fear becomes a problem when it is disproportionate to the reality of the danger that the fear presents and may lead to excessive worrying. Allowing fear to put limitations on how you live your life may cause you to miss out on important life experiences, cause frequent discomfort, and lead to unhealthy habits or coping mechanisms.

Failure and Control

Many people struggle to find comfort in the unknown. Fear of failure can be caused by not knowing what is next. During your recovery, you may crave control because it gives you time to prepare for what’s coming. Unfortunately, you only have a certain amount of control in any given situation. In some situations, you will have more control than others, but you’ll never be able to control everything. Most of the time, the only things you can control are your actions and reactions to any given circumstance. 

It might help to focus your energy on what you can control instead of obsessing over what you can’t. Specifically, when it comes to fear of failure, this could include practicing a skill that will help you accomplish your goals, learning more about a field of interest, or taking the initiative to network with people and build your community. 

Judgment and Insecurities

Fear of the unknown can also mean fear of what other people are thinking. You can’t read people’s minds, and it’s impossible to know a person’s first impression of you. All humans crave a certain degree of human interaction and acceptance. 

Feeling like you don’t fit in with a group of people can heighten your fear of being judged by others. You might have a running list of negative comments and personal insecurities that you prescribe to other people’s thoughts. You may believe that this group of people think you’re weird, incompetent, stupid, or annoying. Often, these beliefs stem from your insecurities and self-beliefs. Overcoming fear of judgment may also mean learning to be accepting of yourself.

Loneliness and Co-dependence

Fear of loneliness could be caused by or lead to co-dependence. If you frequently rely on others to help you with daily decisions, then you may be afraid that you can’t manage day-to-day tasks and decisions on your own. This could cause you to cling or even be codependent on others because you are scared to see what will happen when you trust yourself. 

Alternatively, you may fear loneliness because you’re afraid to be alone with your thoughts. Conquering a fear of loneliness requires you to develop trust in yourself and others. Practicing being alone may help you be more comfortable with yourself. Meditation can help you manage any unhealthy thoughts that you’re afraid of being alone with and help you extend your trust to others. It’s important to know that your support system will always be there for you when you need them.

Concrete Fears

Concrete fears are often referred to as phobias, such as arachnophobia or claustrophobia. These are both fears that a person can physically avoid. However, avoidance isn’t always a practical coping mechanism for concrete fears. For instance, if you have a fear of driving over bridges (gephyrophobia), it may be impossible to avoid all bridges all of the time. Often, these types of fears are best treated with exposure therapy or the practice of gradual exposure of the object or circumstance you fear.

Fear and Substance Use

Fear seems to be a frequent obstacle for people with substance use disorders (SUDs). In the past, you might have managed your intense fears by using substances to numb your anxiety. Using substances may have given you comfort when you had to confront your fears, whether that fear was concrete or abstract. 

Often, a person’s past can shape his or her current fears. For instance, someone who fears loneliness may have felt neglected by friends or family members in the past. Overcoming your fears may be a long and seemingly impossible task. However, the more you understand where your fears come from, the easier it will be for you to manage and possibly overcome them. A large part of any fear is the unknown, and the only way to defeat the unknown is with knowledge, analysis, and understanding.