4 Fears Holding You Back (and How to Overcome Them!)

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  • “If you try to please everybody all the time at the cost of your own health, wealth, joy, and confidence in life, you have rejection issues.”
  • Do you know the source of your fear? Learn the 4 big fears that hold most people back and how to overcome them so you can move forward with confidence!
  • “When you are into learning, now disappointment and ruin aren’t even on the table anymore, because everything is a test. Everything is a data point. Everything is something to learn from and everything is a jumping off point, not a cliff.”
  • Experiencing fear is normal. This episode is a MUST WATCH to understand your fear and consciously overcome it to reach your full potential!
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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Brendon Show. Please note that this episode, like all TBS episodes, features Brendon speaking extemporaneously–he is unscripted and unedited. Filmed in one take, The Brendon Show has become one of the most viewed unscripted, direct-to-camera self-help series in the history of YouTube. It has also been the #1 Podcast in all of iTunes and is regularly in the top podcasts in Self-Help and Health categories around the globe. Subscribe to the free motivational podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.)

If you’ve heard me talk about fears before, you know I usually say that there’s three types of fear, and those types of fear are usually oriented towards loss. Like, “I’m scared I’m going to lose my identity,” or “I’m scared I’m going to lose my job,” or “I’m going to lose money,” or “I’m going to lose something.” I also talk about the way that we think about fear. We’re also scared of the hardship pains. You know, it’s like, “oh, it’s going to be difficult or hard,” or “I won’t know how to do it,” or “I’ll look stupid,” or the outcome pains. And the outcome pains are, “well, if I do all that and it doesn’t turn out well, then what’s that say about me?” Or gosh, “why would I have wasted all that time?”

So usually when I think about fear, I kind of think about it in three time periods. Before I do the thing, I’m scared if I do that thing, I’m going to lose what I currently have. And then I think about, well, in the process of it, I’m scared I’m going to have some pain. It’s going to be more hardship. And I’m scared after I do it, it won’t turn out well. And I think that’s where our minds usually are when we are consciously contemplating fear. If we sit down and we think about, “okay, I’m going to do this thing,” and we’re very conscious or aware, we sense that, “oh, maybe I’ll lose this, maybe that’d be hard, maybe it won’t turn out well,” but that’s really the rationalized fears.

I think there are also very impulsive fears that we have that often maybe underlie beneath the surface.

1. Fear of Rejection

The first one, which you know, is the fear of rejection. As a social species, acceptance, validation, and belonging is so built into our DNA. It’s so important to us that doing anything that would risk us looking like a fool, that would make your family make fun of you, that would make somebody stop loving you or caring for you as much, or doing something where you would truly feel like you are now ostracized by people that you care about, or care for. It’s terrifying for people. It’s funny though, when I sit down with a 40-year-old and we’re talking about their life and they’re secure at home and they’re secure at work, and things are going good, so life is good, but they’re trying to reach that next level.

Sometimes we have to really ask, “Am I fearing rejection? Is that why I’m not at the next level?” Please don’t tell me that fear is not an issue in your life. And please don’t tell me rejection’s not, because you were scared doing that thing, and this might not have been fully conscious. You were scared doing that full thing, jumping into that goal, that dream—somebody might say something to you. They might hate on you on the Internet. Your neighbors might look at you funny, if they don’t already.

You might’ve had somebody around, like you just knew their negativity would increase the more risk that you took, even though you knew those risks were really the next right actions of integrity for you.

That’s what I’m always telling people, it’s like, when you’re stuck and you don’t know what to do, I always say:

Just take the next right action of integrity for you, whatever that is. Speak up for yourself. Take that step. Move towards that dream. Whatever you have to do, take that next right action of integrity.

Well, for a lot of people, that’s scary when the spouse isn’t going to be supportive, when the boss is going to say “no,” when the business is secure, but now you’re going to try something new that might risk your ROI or your cash flow. It’s scary. And what we all want so much is to be loved, validated, accepted, and belong. And most people don’t look at this one.

So, let’s flip it on its head a little bit. Let’s flip it on its head, because we know it’s a powerful driver for people, even if they’re not fully aware of how much they really are doing. You know, when people read my book, The Motivation Manifesto, they’re always like, “I didn’t realize how much I was doing to please other people.”

You might say, “Well, rejection’s not an issue.”

And I go, “Well, are you a pleaser? Are you a people pleaser? Are you someone who makes a lot of compromises in your life to help other people, because you just feel like you need to do that?”

And they go, “Yeah.”

I said, “Do you ever please other people to the detriment of yourself?”

And they go, “Yeah.”

I go, “Well then you have rejection issues.”

If you can’t say “no,” you have rejection issues. If you can’t take risks, you have rejection issues.

If you try to please everybody all the time at the cost of your own health, wealth, joy, and confidence in life, you have rejection issues.

And so what to do? A couple of simple recommendations. Number one, make sure you read at some point of your life The Motivation Manifesto. It will put a fire in you to stop being a people pleaser. It will put you back onto marching the right path for yourself, and it will do it with some language that will absolutely put some fire under your belly.

Second though, let’s flip the script a little bit here. If we know that human belonging, acceptance, and love is so important to us, but right now we are focused on a rejection or a concern—“what they might think if I say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ or don’t do my thing,”—then maybe we can flip it and say, “Oh, well what would I have to do to gain the next level of love, connection, belonging, or validation in this group of people who I want to serve, who I want to care for, who I want to contribute to?”

2. Fear of Ruin

Okay, second big point up here. Oh my gosh, this is a big one. If you didn’t take that big risk this year, I bet this one, oh I bet this one was rubbing on your brains, and you’re like, “Why didn’t I do that thing?” It’s because we fear ruin.

Ruin, the fear of complete and utter irreversibility of a negative consequence. That’s what it is. It’s that fear of just complete irreversibility of a negative consequence. And here’s the thing. If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “I’m not going to do that, ’cause that could ruin us,” you’re in a ruin mindset versus a learning mindset. I tell people all the time who say, “Well Brendon, you don’t understand, I’m not scared of ruin, I’m just scared of being disappointed.” And I said, “No, you’re just not into learning yet. You’re not scared of disappointment. You’re just not into learning yet.”

Because when you are into learning, now disappointment and ruin aren’t even on the table anymore, because everything is a test. Everything is a data point. Everything is something to learn from, and everything is a jumping off point, not a cliff.

I know a lot of people in the industry of entrepreneurial-ism, or small business owners, or people who want to be in that, and they go and they said, “Well Brendon, I’m scared to start my own business because I’ll go broke. I’ll face financial ruin.” And I’m always like, “You know what, no one ever hits financial ruin.”

They really don’t. There is no financial ruin you can’t come back from, because every person can make a new dollar. And that new dollar is that’s one peg up, and another dollar, another new dollar. And I speak to this, not flippantly to you. I went bankrupt in my life, really. I mean, full on bankruptcy in the early part of my life. When I first started my first business, and I was trying to do teaching, and training, and online training, and workshops. I didn’t know what I was doing. Totally went bankrupt, and I never thought “this is forever, oh my God.”

I was like, “This sucks. Not what I want.” So what’s the next right action of integrity? Why is it important that I still show up and deliver with excellence? What will I do today? If there is tomorrow, there is no ruin. If there is tomorrow, there is no ruin. So what do you do?

As soon as you start feeling yourself catastrophizing, remember to ask yourself better questions, and say, “Okay, not what I wanted, so what should I do today? Not what I wanted. What am I going to do with tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon, tomorrow evening, to start moving it forward, to making that next dollar, or that next right action of integrity, to make that next call, that next email?”

That there’s always a next, right? Always a next. It’s one of the great four letter words of all time. So ruin shouldn’t be stopping you. Fear of ruin, you just have to know where that is, because what you’re doing is you’re catastrophizing, and this is really important. If you don’t feel like you made big leaps this year, you were scared. You were like, “I’m going to jump off this cliff, and take this action, and I’m going to fall to my death, ruin, death, destruction.” Instead of saying, “I’m going to jump off this cliff and I’m going to fly, baby. I don’t know how, and I might fall for a little bit, but I’m going to flap those wings, and at some point I’m going to catch that wind, and here we go.”

Your expectancy was in the gutter versus in the air. You were looking down versus looking up. You were feeling down versus animating yourself so you felt better, and that moved you further. So my friends, be wary of the ruinous thoughts, those global, catastrophizing, dead, negative, forever things that you have. As soon as you hear it, you have to flip it. As soon as you hear it, you have to flip it.

3. Fear of Regret

Third big idea in overcoming our fears is that fear of regret. Fear of regret is like a stake in the ground that you’re tied to. When you just want to go beyond a boundary, but this fear of regret stops you because you don’t want to regret taking an action, because if you took an action and you were rejected, and you were ruinous, and then you felt like, “I knew I shouldn’t have done that.”

Doesn’t this make everything else worse? If you fear these things and they happen, now you regret the action is 10x worse, but that’s what we keep doing. We 10x our fears by going, “Well, if I do it, I’ll regret it.” And so we have to just like other things, we have to flip this a little bit, and we have to go, “Well, what if I do positive things so that I don’t have negative regrets” versus saying, “Well, I don’t want to do that, because I would experience negative regret.”

Does that make sense? So what positive things can you do so you don’t have regret, versus fearing something and stopping, so you don’t have regret? Meaning, most people use regret the wrong way. They use regret as a reason to not do something. “I don’t want to do that ’cause I’ll regret it versus I’m going to do those things so I don’t have regret.” Many of you guys know my story from my car accident as a 19 year old kid. Part of the reason I live so courageously and boldly, and I put myself out there so much all the time, is because I don’t want to get to the end of my life and say, “I served half as well because I was scared.”

I don’t get to the end of my life and regret going through so many days not present. Going through so many days just going through the motions. Going through so many days not engaged with my passions, my enthusiasms, my loves, my people. I don’t want to be that guy who’s rocking on the rocking chair saying, “I wish I would’ve, should have, could have,” at the end of my life, so I take positive daily actions to avoid that type of experience. Does that make sense?

And then I would also say, same thing with regret, and ruin, they’re really connected so closely in that we think, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life, wish I would have, should have, could have,” and act like there’s still not a tomorrow. The ideal of hope for a better tomorrow is one of the great deconstructors of fear, because most of our fear is tied to—there’s a block there. Fear introduces like this black wall in front of us, and we forget on the other side, there’s all this open field of freedom, and we just keep thinking, our fear narrows our view so tightly, that we forget that there’s tomorrow.

So for people, their regrets are held so close. “I don’t want to do that, ’cause I’ll regret that and it’ll be irrecoverable.” Well, when you have a learning mindset, there’s not much regret. I don’t have a lot of disappointment. I also don’t have a lot of regret, ’cause I was like, “Oh, I did that, didn’t work out. Darn it, okay, shouldn’t have done that.” Learn, adjust behavior, right? A lot of people who struggle with concerns—and here’s a tell if you’re a person who, if regret is driving you, if this year you also felt a lot of guilt, guilt is a great tell that you have a psychological propensity for the fear of regret.

They’re like, you know, twins.

People who have lots of fear of regrets also tend to have high psychological concern for guilt.

Like they’re guilty, they feel guilty all the time. “I feel guilty, I feel guilty, I feel guilty, I feel guilty,” and so guess what? “I don’t want to do anything else, ’cause I’ll regret it. ‘Cause I already feel bad about myself, so why take an action? I feel so bad about myself, why take an action?” And so their regret has become something that has stopped them. Their guilt is something that adds on to that, and now they’re immobilized, because of a high fear of regret and psychological guiltiness.

So what I tell people, I say, “Look, if you have a lot of guilt, there’s the simplest way out. The simplest ways out of guilt.

I mean, the path out of guilt starts at the path of forgiveness, for yourself and for other people.

I mean, you have to let it go. You can’t advance with all the baggage of self-hate. You have to let that stuff go. And so what I tell people is as much as we fear that, “I’m going to regret and I have a lot of guilt,” and they don’t let that go, and they think forgiveness is just about themselves and others. I also go, “Forgive yesterday. You weren’t as wise, or intentional, or thoughtful, as you could be today.” And remember, that’s the ideal of hope. I go, “I don’t have to regret yesterday. I don’t have to be guilty about yesterday, ’cause you know what, I’m better today. I learned from that.”

I’m telling you, the learning mindset is the great release of fear, ’cause as soon as you approach it as like, “I’m going to learn through it, and get better,” now the fear doesn’t stop you anymore, because you don’t say, “I’m going to get stuck here, or stuck here, or this will happen forever.” The forever goes away when you finally step into the realization that there is hope, there is a tomorrow. ‘Cause you know what I think one side of regret would be? To have lived your whole life with a bleak outlook, ’cause you’ll get to the end and you go, “Dang it. I didn’t appreciate it. I didn’t appreciate all those days I had. I didn’t appreciate all the second chances I had every time I woke up a new Monday morning, I didn’t appreciate it. I missed the whole ride. You know what, I stood in line for the ride of life the whole time, and never got on the ride. I was just a wait-er. I was just a watcher. I never really engaged.” That’s real regret, and I can share with that because I’ve been there in hospices with people in the last weeks, hours, minutes of their life. And if there is regret, it’s usually a lack of full engagement with life. “I didn’t really show up. I didn’t appreciate what I had.”

So if you have a lot of regrets, you have to learn to forgive the guilt, forgive the bad days, and start appreciating today again. ‘Cause you know what?

When you fall in love with the moment, when you fall in love with this opportunity you have, when you really appreciate the now, then there’s not a lot of room for fear in that.

In that deep feeling of appreciation, it’s hard for fear to edge itself in. So, let go of regret and concerns, my friend. There’s a tomorrow, and it’s going to be amazing.

4. Fear of Responsibility

Last piece, number four, this is what we really fear, responsibility. We fear that we are actually very responsible for our lives. It’s like that great Marianne Williamson quote you’ve ever heard, right. “The thing we fear so much,” she was basically saying. I don’t remember the exact quote, but we’re not so much afraid that we’re inadequate. We’re actually fearful of our full power, because what would that really bring out in us? What would that say if we were fully responsible for the outcomes in our life? What would it say if we had more power than we were actualizing in life?

That’s scary. People are scared of responsibility, and in very tactical ways, like if I said to you, “Hey, I’m going to make you responsible for 50 more employees, and all of their mortgages.” A lot of people, “oh my God,” right? Total terror to be responsible for other people’s lives, or other people’s mortgages, or other people’s whatevers. And so responsibility is scary to people.

Look at any great personal development teacher. At the base of everything they teach is personal responsibility, or what used to be called self-reliance. That sense of personal power that says, “I am in command of my life.” Doesn’t mean you’re in command of everything that happens to you in life, but you are in command of your responses. And what we are scared of is that we won’t show up as our best self to deal with those demands. We’re scared of taking full responsibility for everything, because what would that say about our lives?

But I take full responsibility for everything in my life. It doesn’t mean I believe I caused everything. Does that make sense? So the law of attraction, people calm down. One second, take a breather. I’m not saying you attracted cancer. I’m not saying you attracted that mean person. I’m not saying you attracted the bankruptcy. A lot of that bad teaching early on in the days of the, you know, the new law of attraction was just misguided, because there’s lots of things that happen to us that are cosmic, chaotic, weird things that we can’t explain, or we’ll never be able to understand, is things that we didn’t attract.

We didn’t want them to happen. They happened, and it wasn’t because you had bad character, or you’re a negative person, or you’ve done something bad. Look, bad things happen to good people. If you haven’t read it, it’s a great book. “How Good People Deal With Bad Things,” but I would also share with you that ultimately, we are responsible for what our response is. We are responsible for the people who we become. Maybe you didn’t ask for that cancer. You are responsible for how you are going to deal with that. And for those who go, “That’s too flippant to say,” I just remind you, go back and read some Viktor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” He said it the best. He said, “The last of the human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s own attitude.” They can take away everything else, but they can’t take away how you respond in mind. And when you know that, that gives you great power and responsibility in life.

So, when you feel like a victim, this is one of your great fears. You might not call it that. You might not recognize it, but you’re scared of responsibility. I say this to people all the time who say, “But I have a big dream.” I go, “Have you told your family, your friends, the people around you about what your big dream is?”


I say, “Well, you’re dealing with this, and you’re dealing with this. You’re scared that by putting it out there, you won’t be able to handle the pressure. You won’t be able to handle the demands. That’s fear of responsibility. I’m fearful that I won’t be able to be responsible enough to deal with the stuff,” and I’m just like, “there’s a tomorrow. You can learn.”

I have extreme personal power ’cause I have hope. I have extreme personal power because I have optimism for tomorrow. I have extreme personal power because I look at the areas of my life on a weekly basis, and I say, “Where have I been stuck? Where am I fearful? What can I do this next week as the next right action of integrity?”

Everything we’ve talked about because here you flip all of these. Watch what happens in your life. You flip rejection to doing the things that will bring greater connection in your life. Watch the quality of your life go up. You stop worrying about what will be ruined, and you start remembering that there’s always a tomorrow, and you have hope and optimism and you just always ask, “Okay, there’s not ruin. What’s my next right action of integrity?” And you keep moving forward, even through the disasters of life, watch the courage that enters your heart there.

Watch the confidence that comes in when you keep moving through the storm. Guess what happens when regret is free? You let that go. You’re not worried about the regret of, “if I do this, maybe things will turn out bad.” And you said, “Okay, what would I need to do, so I don’t experience regret at the end of my life? What positive actions could I take, to live a life of my own, so I don’t have regret, so I’m proud of my life?” ‘Cause pride on the other side of regret feels good. Then responsibility. Instead of saying, “What if I can’t handle it, or what if I’m not responsible?” You said, “I’m totally responsible for this. I am able to shape this, guide this, change this, make it better.” Now you’re really stepping in your personal power, and when you move through these things on just a very tactical, weekly basis, you’re aware of these fears, and you start flipping them, you start flipping them, you start flipping them, you start flipping them, you get in this rhythm, and all of a sudden you say, “Wow, I feel really courageous in my life.” And that’s when you start making your greatest contributions.