11 Unusual Disguises of Fear

My youngest son will be wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume and my oldest will wear a Pirate costume to the church Fall Harvest party this month. There are super cute costumes, but no matter how much green make up we put on my youngest or how deeply we color in a beard on my oldest's face, my husband and I will always recognize them. There costumes will never keep us from knowing who they really are.

Did you know fear can wear costumes? Some of fear's costumes are so well clothed in your own skin that you don't recognize it as a foreign body at all. Fear is much more of a chameleon. Fear can take on the costumes of other emotions, thoughts, and physical problems so seamlessly that you'd never recognize it.

Fear boldly masquerades as so many things for one single purpose: survival. If fear kept it's most common form, a distinct feeling of dread or doom, then we'd just learn how to overcome that fear and it would forever be vanquished. So in order to ensure it's survival it became a master of disguise. Iyanla Vanzant once said,

"Fear wears so many clever disguises it is virtually impossible to always recognize it. Fear disguises itself as the need to be somewhere else, doing something else, not knowing how to do something or not needing to do something." 

Since you can never conqueror what you can never identify, let's pull the mask off of some of fear's costumes.

Fear can masquerade as:

1. Indecision

Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. ~Charles Stanley

2. Anger

3. Procrastination

"Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the 'someday I'll' philosophy." ~Denis Waitley 

4. Sarcasm/cynicism

"Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It’s unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try.”
- Peggy Noonan

5. Boredom

"Boredom is the fear of self." – Marie Josephine de Suin

6. Lack of motivation

"There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life..." ~John Lennon

7. Being practical or responsible

Sometimes being or acting "responsibly" is fear based. 

"Fear, born of the stern matron responsibility, sits on one's shoulders like some heavy imp of darkness, and one is preoccupied and possibly cantankerous." ~William McFee

8. Victimhood

"But victimhood was seductive, a release from responsibility and caring. Fear would be transmuted into weary resignation; failure would no longer generate guilt but instead would spawn a comforting self pity. ~ Dean Koontz

9. Skepticism and doubt

"Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, 
by fearing to attempt.” 

― William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

10. Fatigue

"Worry is a form of fear, and all forms of fear produce fatigue." ~Bertrand Arthur William Russell

11. Perfectionism 

"Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person."       - David M. Burns

Fear is so pervasive we hardly recognize it. It is up to us to be brave enough to expose fear. If we keep it covered, we will always be at it's mercy. 

What are some ways fear is sneakily showing up in your life?

For me, it's that last one. Perfectionism. I struggle with getting it just perfect. If it isn't perfect, I don't celebrate and I beat myself up. It is the fear of not producing quality work that scares me. 

Can I let you in on a secret? The reason my clients tell me I am so effective in helping them is because I can relate to their struggles and fears as women pursuing greatness in the workplace. I have struggled with the same leadership gaps and communication mistakes they are making. I thought not being perfect disqualified me...but it doesn't. It actually makes me more attractive to my clients.

So what are some ways fear is holding you back from pursuing that big career goal? I can help. Click here if you want to just chat about it. 

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.” Will Smith, After Earth

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