How To Get Past Fears That Stop You From Living Your Dreams

FEAR. The word itself is uncomfortable. Say it out loud, and you may get this feeling of discontent, as if you just want to shove the word away, get away from it as fast as possible. It’s a little word with a lot of power. Because we give it power.

That’s right. We feed our fears. Sometimes subconsciously and at other times because we are stuck in a maze of self-defeating behaviour and can’t find our way out.

The things we fear tell us a lot more about ourselves than we realise. Yet, it is a subject that most of us choose to avoid, because when we think about fear, all those uncomfortable feelings, all the things we would rather avoid and hide from, come to the forefront.

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.

– Jim Morrison

Jim’s words are wise. We know in the rational part of our brain that it’s true. But we are not always ruled by reason, and certainly not when it comes to fear. So how do you go about exposing yourself to your deepest fear? Does that mean that if you are afraid of heights, you should jump out of a plane? Perhaps some people would advise you to do that, but here at Kaizen Journaling, we have a different way of doing things.

Remember the three As?

Awareness. Acceptance. Advancement.

They apply to fear as well. Let’s look at them one by one.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”26″ size_format=”px”]AWARENESS[/typography]

How much do you know about your fears? I bet you don’t know as much as you think, certainly not in your conscious mind. Hiding from our fears is a survival instinct. It puts our well-being in danger, so our natural tendency is to avoid it. But what if those fears are holding you back? What if those fears are stopping you from being the person you have the potential to be? What if they are stopping you from living your dreams? 

If they are, then it’s time to confront them. First step to fixing any problem is awareness. Unless you know what you are dealing with, you will just blunder into it. You may get lucky, but chances are, you will end up more tangled than when you started. 


What did you fear as a child? Darkness? A monster under your bed? Or perhaps you feared a grizzly uncle or even an older sibling or one of your parent? Make a list of all the things and/or people you remember being afraid of. Don’t think about it. Just make a quick list of anything that comes to mind, even if the fear was short lived. Keep going until you can’t think of nothing else.

Once you have your list, go through each item one by one, and in detail first write what you remember. For example, maybe you remember being afraid of your great aunt Nelly. When was this? Do you know why you were afraid? Did you do something wrong and were trying to hide it, or was it simply the way Nelly was that made you afraid? Or maybe she was drunk, and you were always afraid of her when she was drunk? Write all you remember about feeling that fear.

What about the fears you acquired since childhood? How have they evolved? What impact have they had on your life? What things you wanted to do, but haven’t done, because of your fears?

Don’t give yourself time to analyse or question at this time. Just keep writing, until you have detailed entries about each of your fears. Focus on the memories. If you are not sure whether it’s a true memory, don’t worry about it. At this stage, it’s just about info-dump. 

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”26″ size_format=”px”]ACCEPTANCE[/typography]

If you did the previous step thoroughly, you would have an awareness of your many fears.

Now, think of it from an adult, pragmatic perspective. Do you realise now why you were so afraid? Is the reason quite different from what you remember as a child? What does it tell you? Does it tell you that you have changed, or is it simply your perspective that has changed?

What about the fears you acquired since childhood? Are you still holding on to them?

Go through the list again and again, in as much detail as possible. Write down if you’ve conquered that particular fear. If you did conquer it, how did you do it?

Look at the list of fears you believe you have not conquered. Do you agree? Force yourself to be objective. Try to look at it as an outsider. It’s not easy, but soul searching never is.

Keeping repeating Awareness and Acceptance steps until you believe that what you’ve come up with the true picture of your fears.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”26″ size_format=”px”]ADVANCEMENT[/typography]

You know what your fears are. You’ve accepted them. Now it’s time to move forward.

This is where you are going to get a different-than-normal advice. You don’t need to conquer all of your fears, unless it stands in the way of the things you want to achieve, and the life you want to lead. If you have no interest in climbing mountains or jumping from a plane, who cares if you are afraid of heights?

Focus on the fears that are holding you back. Use the 80/20 rule. Which fears, if you overcame them, would have the biggest impact on your life? Start with those.

One at a time, you can conquer your fears, and one at a time, you can start moving forward.


Schedule a day, or even a weekend, when you can really focus on your fears, and get to the bottom of this. Give yourself permission and time to do these exercises. The more you delay, the longer your fears will hold you back.




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13 thoughts on “How To Get Past Fears That Stop You From Living Your Dreams

  1. Journaling is a great way of bringing your fears into awareness. Once they have come into your awareness, I have discovered that many are unfounded and not relevant to the current situation in life.

  2. Dolly,
    I appreciate the approach you present here for uncovering your fears: awareness, acceptance, and advancement. It seems like a natural, logical progression and yet it’s easy to miss, especially if we’re not looking to go deeper even when it would be highly beneficial. Facing fears can be a daunting process but journaling can help make it less intimidating. I like your suggestion of writing down a quick list of everything you were afraid of as a child; this shows whether those fears are still on our radar and why they have been carried for so long. This is truly ground-breaking material!

    I have chosen your post, How to Get Past Fears That Stop You From Living Your Dreams, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 10/2/12 for all things journaling on Twitter;
    I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in Refresh Journal, my weekly e-journal:

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST, for all things journaling on Twitter; our topic this week is Your Journaling: Regroup and Release.

    Thanks again for sharing this approach for getting past the fears that are holding us back.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child

  3. This is good, concrete advice about identifying fear and learning to process what fears are rational or irrational. I think it’s also helpful to identify where in the body the fears are stored. It will help in the future to be able to identify fear, use the writing practice and then move forward again.

  4. Priska,

    Yes, that is the point! We often get stuck in the past, so that what was true yesterday remains true today, until we really stop to think about it.

    Thank you for sharing your insight and experience.

  5. Loran,

    It’s an excellent idea to consider visceral reactions, as no doubt people would respond differently to different kinds of fears.

    Thank you for sharing that.

  6. I am a firm believer in “feel the fear and do it anyways” but as you say, you need to be acutely aware of what those fears are. This is an excellent process to work through them.

  7. My clients do journaling as part of their career change process (see Free Webinar to see the journaling that they do:

    Your article is helpful because they too have to resolve the beliefs/asumptions/doubts/anxieties at the root of the following acronyms:

    False Events Appearing Real
    False Experience Appearing Real
    Frustration Ego Anxiety Resentment
    False Evidence Appearing Real
    Future Events Arent Real
    False Expectations Altering Reality
    False Expectations Affect Results
    Finding Everything A Roadblock

  8. loved your post
    fear is one of the most common reasons for failure
    many people who have good potential fail because they never try
    keep it up

  9. Just desire to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your post is simply great and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the gratifying work.

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