How to recognize fear in your life | Mindset tips for photographers & creative entrepreneurs

If there’s one thing that holds photographers and creative entrepreneurs back from stepping into the dream they have for their business, it’s fear. From worry all the way to anxiety, Fear has a pretty big spectrum…but a pretty similar end result-inaction. Safety. And dreams remaining dreams. Isn’t that kinda sad to think about?

So, dreamer. Are you reader to become a doer? The first step is to learn to spot fear in your life. Here are 6 of the most common manifestations of fear-do any stand out to you?

How to recognize fear in YOUR life and business

I’m listing the 6 most common forms of fear below. Oddly enough-they come in pairs-either because one escalates into another (i.e.-worry/anxiety; avoidance/self-sabotage) OR because they are complimentary fears (safety mechanisms/defense mechanisms)

Worry

Fear of the unknown takes a toll on your physical body. Letting your mind run wild in the realm of the unknown is not what your beautiful brain was meant for! And it’s gonna show in your physical body.

From tooth grinding and headaches, to ulcers and acid reflux, your body wasn’t meant to live in a chronic state of worry. While you can technically live with these symptoms IF they stay at this level…chances are they will progress into:

Anxiety

Worry manifesting itself in our physical bodies with symptoms that delve into panic reactions. When you struggle with anxiety, your body is literally pumping the breaks to keep you out of the situations that cause you this anxiety.

Our bodies move into the fight or flight stage in anxiety and amp up physical symptoms to breathing issues, muscle tightening, erratic behavior, and more. These are symptoms you can no longer live with. Something needs to change immediately when you’re experiencing anxiety symptoms.

Sound’s fun, right? Let’s talk about a different side of fear:


Avoidance

Quite simply, avoidance is that person who, when they hear anything that stresses them out, plugs their ears and sings “lalalalalalala!” until it stops. You know you’ve seen a grown adult do this! This is fear. Avoiding stressors comes from a belief that what you fear must be avoided. Bad things happen when you feel fear, so avoid it, sometimes at all costs.

This person is likely the one changing the subject abruptly at the dinner table, likes to please people and can’t afford to have someone upset with them.

Self-sabotage/self-destructive behaviors

Paired with avoidance is self-sabotage and self-destructive behaviors. It’s a “walk the plank” mentality when you realize you have to face something stressful or fearful. Since you believe you can’t handle the stress, when you realize you have no choice but to face it, you take the approach that you’re about to go down in flames. You often find yourself doing the very things you know you shouldn’t, wondering “whyyyyyyy am I doing/saying this??”

Have you seen a small child walk over to a hot stove, touch it and cry? My immediate thought is “oof, that’s a tough way to learn a lesson!” But how do you feel if the child, still crying, goes and touches the stove again? I’m thinking in my head “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, YOU KNOW IT’S GOING TO HURT YOU!” That’s how self-sabotage looks from the outside in.

From messing up a business deal, triggering an argument when you were happy with your spouse, coworker, or business partner, to forgetting equipment for a job, etc. the “I’ll probably just mess it up” mindset is basically predicting that you WILL.


Coping mechanisms

Just like a child sucking his thumb or reach for his favorite stuffed animal to help him fall asleep, we as adults can develop soothing behaviors to help us feel safe again when we’re scared. They’re not entirely bad-in fact, knowing how to take care of yourself when you are feeling scared is a key piece of self care.

Sometimes we get pushed headlong into the scary stuff before we’ve had space to see how we handle it and we grasp and something that soothes a base human need. The danger that often follows coping mechanisms is that when we learn to cope with something stressful or scary, we start to retreat. We lower our tolerance for stress or scary stuff and reach for a coping mechanism faster with each stress trigger.

It’s pretty common to find that coping leads to addictive or highly patterned behaviors. Some common ones include spending money, disordered eating (this is a big one for us women), and sexual issues, to addictive substances or workaholic tendencies.These behaviors make you feel safe when you otherwise felt vulnerable or scared.

Defense mechanisms

While coping mechanisms are the flight side of dealing with fear, defense mechanisms are the fight side. You know you’re can’t run from it. So you prepare for battle.

Defense mechanisms are ways in which you defend or protect yourself from difficult situations-these situations can be as simple as unwanted situations all the way to trauma triggers.

If you’re living in a place of defense mechanisms, you’re probably thinking through worst case scenarios, practicing responses, protecting your work, or even picking a fight so you can lay someone open with harsh words or criticism.

Of all the behaviors, defensive, protective behavior is by far the most painful to others. Like a wounded animal, a defensive person will snap and bite at you if you get too close to their pain. This person needs some pretty significant help and needs you to be extra careful around them lest you get hurt in the process.


*I want to be sensitive to the fact that fear often has a reason for living in you. And sometimes that reason is rooted in real, painful life circumstances. If that’s you, I just want to take a moment to honor you and let you know that you didn’t deserve the trauma you experienced. You are so worthy of healing and you are so worthy of having support. You are beautiful and brave.*

What does fear sound like?

Fear often starts with two little words- “what if?” Those words mean you’re living in a potential reality. And quite frankly, if you don’t learn to let go of these thoughts, it will become your actual reality. Why? Like attracts like. In this case? Worry attracts in more things to worry about.

“what if this fails?” (remember that fixed mindset stuff from some of my early blog posts?”

“what if I can’t?”

“I know what’s going to happen if…”

“I need to protect my self…”

“just in case (X) happens, I’m going to…”

“I’ll probably just mess it up.”

“What if they think…?”

“I’m not cut out for this”

“I can’t”

Conclusion

We all experience fear. And we all deal with it the best we know how-after all, we’re all just doing the best we can.

We may deal with fear in the form of worry or even anxiety, or we might avoid fear, trying to stay in our happy place until we’re forced to face our fears and then we self-sabotage, bringing our fears to life. Maybe you’re not in either of those categories, but instead, you deal with fear through coping mechanisms. You can’t avoid fear, but this helps you remove yourself from it.

Perhaps you’re one of the people who often feels defensive and a little compative when in a scary situation, leaning on defense mechanisms to get you through. If that’s you, you’re not alone. You’re not terrible. And you’re not stuck.

Coming soon, I’ll share some psychology and NLP based ways to deal with fear in a healthy way.

We’re all just doing the best we can!

What did you learn about fear? Did something specific resonate with you? Leave a comment and share. This small, brave move may help you let go of fears in your life!