4 Core Fears Holding You Back

#1: Fear of fear itself

Nick Wignall
10 min readSep 6


Photo by Александр

Why is it so hard to stick with our best intentions and follow through on our goals?

Whether it’s dropping 15 pounds, starting a new business, or finally fulfilling your dream to write a novel, our most important aspirations seem to quickly get derailed and go unrealized.

But why?

It’s rarely for lack of vision or desire — most of us know what we want, and we want it badly. And it’s usually not a knowledge problem either — making time for your photography hobby, for example, is difficult but not conceptually complicated.

As a psychologist, I spend my days working with my clients to help them overcome the barriers to their personal success and wellbeing. And without a doubt, the common obstacle I see is this:

The reason we struggle to achieve our potential is fear.

Specifically, there are four core fears that undermine our most important goals and aspirations.

Learning to identify and name these fears is essential to finally breaking through your chronic struggles, so you can do your best work and realize your true potential.

1. Fear of Fear Itself

What is fear, exactly?

  • Is it an emotion? Something between nervous, anxious, and terrified?
  • Is it a physical feeling? Chest tightness, wobbly legs, racing heart, muscle tension, sweaty palms?
  • Is it a reaction? Stumbling over your words, avoiding eye contact, avoiding the spotlight, running away?

All of the above are ways to think about fear descriptively, in terms of how it looks and feels. But the better way to think about fear is functionally, in terms of what it’s doing.

At its core, fear is simply the result of your body mobilizing its defenses to deal with a perceived threat:

  • Your respiratory rate increases to bring in more oxygen so that your muscles have more fuel to fight or flee.
  • Your heart rate and blood pressure increase so that all the new oxygen you’re bringing in can get delivered to your muscles faster (via your blood…



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com