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  • Syed Ahmed

5 fears that stop us from succeeding in life


In my quest to train and improve people and their performances in the Corporate World, I came across thousands of people, young and not so young. Every time I stood in front of a class to train them on management or leadership one question always crossed my mind, “what stops these intelligent and hardworking people from achieving the extraordinary?” “What is it that’s holding them back from the ultimate success?”

Sometimes I felt that they are mere chess pieces in the hands of destiny but when I looked closer I found out that it was not destiny that was holding them back or stopping them, it was the fears that these people live with everyday that’s holding them back.

There are seven fears that prevent us from achieving growth and ultimate success in our lives, they are:

1. Fear of criticism- Enissophobia

Sometimes just a passing thought of guilt or criticism can set off a panic attack.

Do you get the shakes when you think about guilt or criticism? Do you feel nauseous, or light-headed? Does your mouth go dry, does your head spin, or does your face go red or sweaty? Do you feel sick or out of control?

The actual feelings of Enissophobia are extremely common. Far more so than you might think: while the exact ‘trigger’ for everyone’s fear is different, over 13% of all adults experience the symptoms regularly, rising to over 60% under specific circumstances.

And yet this is a problem you can quickly and permanently conquer – just as long as you are really committed to doing so. Conquering the fear means saying goodbye once and for all to that nasty feeling and discovering the steps to switch on the calm, centred, confident you.

No. There’s Nothing Wrong with You

The first thing to understand is that there’s nothing wrong with you. Nothing at all. Creating positive and negative emotional associations is a perfectly normal (and crucially important) function of your brain. We will simply show you how to take control of those associations – how to turn them to your benefit.

2. Fear of punishment: Mastigophobia

The Fear of Punishment, Abuse or Being Beaten. Punishment has been used as a tool for controlling humans and animals since the beginning of time. We have been threatened all our lives to make us fall in line. The Religion warns us of a hell as punishment, constitution threatens us with prison or death sentence, society threatens us with banishment.

Let’s understand the long term effect of the constant threats of punishment on us. A child is threatened to fallow orders, like sit quietly, write within the lines on the text book, sit, stand speak, run only when allowed to, if the child does not follow it he gets the punishment.

After a while the child stops thinking, dreaming and even living the way she wants.

The risk taking capability of the child is crushed and the child grows to become a very good follower of orders and the world calls her a normal child. The children who break these rules become abnormal and are usually sent for therapy.

So the normal child grows up to become a normal grown up and lives entire life trapped within the walls of normal behaviour and scared of punishments.

3. Fear of failure: Atychiphobia

Atychiphobia is the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure. As with many phobias, atychiphobia often leads to a constricted lifestyle, and is particularly devastating for its effects on a person’s willingness to attempt certain activities.

A person afflicted with atychiphobia considers the possibility of failure so intense that they choose not to take the risk. Often this person will subconsciously undermine their own efforts so that they no longer have to continue to try. Because effort is proportionate to the achievement of personal goals and fulfilment, this unwillingness to try that arises from the perceived inequality between the possibilities of success and failure holds the atychiphobic back from a life of meaning and the realization of potential.

4. Fear of imperfection: Atelophobia

Atelophobia is the fear of not doing something right or the fear of not being good enough. Quite simply put it’s a fear of imperfection. Persons suffering from this psychological disorder may be often depressed when their perceived expectations do not match reality.

An atelophobic has the fear that whatever he is doing is wrong in some way. Even making a call, writing something, eating or even talking in front of others is difficult for them as they are afraid they are making some kind of error in their task.

We live in a society that defines perfection and then demands that this standard of perfection is met. If not society is quick to malign the outcast who do not meet its expectation. These artificially created standards of perfection often act as a definitive marker for success within society and of course those who do not meet these standards are quickly branded as failures. Failure is the Atelophobic’s biggest fear.

They fear being ostracized, not living up to expectations and most of all criticism.

People who are atelophobic often have an inability to relax as their mind is constantly being bombarded with thoughts of possible failure.

They often suffer from insomnia which leaves them unable to sleep at night. This disorder of the mind is also often found in persons who are suffering from anorexia or bulimia. They are so obsessed with meeting society’s expectations of beauty that they literally starve themselves. This is one instance where atelophobia can be physically harmful to your health.

5. Fear of taking decisions: Decidophobia

The word decidophobia was first mentioned by Princeton University philosopher Walter Kaufmann in his 1973 book “without guilt and justice”, in which he writes about the phobia in length.

Life is full of options and choices, each changing the way we decide to live our lives. Making these decisions requires an internal thought process that weighs out the positive and negative aspects of each choice. For some, this process can be absolutely terrifying and the fear of making the wrong choice will ultimately cause them to avoid making any choice at all. This fear of decision-making is called Decidophobia and could ultimately lead to an unhealthy dependence on others or unpractical methods of guidance and, subsequently, a total lack of control over the direction that their life will take.

While symptoms of decidophobia are not extensively threatening to a person’s health, they can gradually worsen without treatment.

Eventually, a person may become unable to make any personal decisions, regardless of their severity, and become completely dependent on another person. This can lead to unhealthy relationships or a total dependency on other people. A person suffering from this disorder may also see their life changing in unintended ways, losing their personal control over the directions that their life takes. This lack of control can lead to depression, which is a severe and common symptom associated with long-term decidophobia.

All these fears are irrational to some extent, these are the steps to set yourself free from these fears:

1. Check your thoughts: A thought is a product of a word, check the words that you use to talk to yourself. We either use negative or positive words to talk to ourselves, always check the negative words. There are two type of thoughts that rule our minds, Self-Hypnotic positive thoughts and Self-hypnotic negative thoughts. When we use these words repeatedly they end up hypnotising our mind positively or negatively. Next time a negative thought comes to your mind accept it and then distract your mind by thinking of a totally different positive thought.

2. Question the fear: Ask yourself, why are you scared? What are the realistic implications of this situation? A fear paralyses us when we over exaggerate the consequences of acting against it. Most of these thoughts are the worst case scenarios. We have to constantly tell ourselves that we are stronger than the fear and can control it.

3. Focus on the benefits: Think about the good things that you are missing out because of the fear that you have, imagine yourself enjoying the benefits of overcoming your fear. Live that moment of enjoyment in your imagination. Sometimes our mind cannot differentiate between imagination and reality.

4. Challenge your comfort zone: Start taking small steps to conquer your fears, remember Rome was not build in a day, whatever fear you have, start moving towards it one step at a time. The key here is acknowledging and accepting that you are scared and then start challenging the boundaries which your mind has created.

5. Seek support: Rome was also not built by one person, ask people around you at work and home to help you overcome these fears. There will be times when you will be too scared to take that small step this where supporting people around you will help you. If the fear is uncontrollable even with the help of people around you seek professional help immediately.


Always remember being cured is better than suffering.

Live free – Live well

S.A. Hussaini

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