When Fear Takes Over ….. What’s Stopping You?

By Rowena Hardy

Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve really, really wanted to do something and yet you’ve held back, delayed or not done it all?  I believe many women can relate to that and there are likely to be some underlying reasons or, just maybe, some excuses and I can certainly relate to that!

What are yours?

Whether it’s new hobby or adventure or activity, we seem to be able to come up with all sorts of obstacles that may convince us not to even bother taking the first step.

It may be that whatever you want to do isn’t offered locally or there are too many things on offer and you don’t know which to choose or where to start.

Sometimes money is tight and or we don’t find the time it takes to do the research and then, if we get that far, don’t actually do the thing we want to.

Or is it that you want or need someone to go with you and you’re not sure who to ask or your BFF just isn’t interested in the same thing?

 Rowena on her own adventure in the Pyrenees on the border of Spain and France in 2015.

Rowena on her own adventure in the Pyrenees on the border of Spain and France in 2015.


I know that for me at times I’ve been impatient and if I’ve tried something and haven’t mastered it within a couple of sessions then I can be easily put off, or maybe it’s a low boredom threshold, I definitely have one of those!

Depending on the activity, there may be other considerations such as that we are not as fit and healthy as we might be or perhaps to need to be to take part in an activity or are concerned about our image, have nothing to wear or don’t have the equipment.

Generally speaking, whatever excuse we are finding to stop us or deter us it can be a sign of resistance and sometimes the resistance indicates that we are feeling threatened in some way.  Feeling threatened is an indication that there is an underlying fear;

Does that sound familiar?

Common fears that might prevent us from doing certain things can be hurting others or ourselves; experiencing judgment or ridicule about our appearance or lack of expertise; competition; phobia-type fears such as water, snakes, flying, heights etc.  All of these may be quite valid but are often based on past experience which our brain refers to and assumes that the same thing will happen again in this instance. So if something’s gone horribly wrong in the past we assume it will again and vice versa but is either actually true?  Most likely not, every day and every situation is different and we are different each time and the past is not an accurate predictor for the future.

And then there’s change … a big threat for some, whether it’s change of job, house, town or routine, it can throw us as any change often means we are having to move out of our comfort zone into uncharted territory.  Eeeek!  So it can be much easier to stay put, take no risks, pretend we’re ok with everything as it is but actually carry on yearning for the opportunity to do that thing we really want to.

I’ve heard of several examples of people who have had life-changing events, near-death experiences or been left physically less able than before who have gone on to create a ‘bucket list’ of all the things they really want to and go and do them. 

But why does it take something dramatic for us to do things differently?

I want to share a couple of things that have helped be to bold and step out of my comfort zone in the past.  One was reading ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers who writes about the fears that can stop us – change, staying stuck, success, failure, living, dying and and offers insights and tools to help move beyond whatever it is for you.

The other was a counsellor I saw, many years ago now while still in London, about a decision I was struggling with who asked “What’s stopping you?”.  When I was honest with myself there were no external barriers but many internal ones that I needed to work my way through.

I feel it’s great question and one you may like to explore for yourself.  What’s standing in the way of you doing what you’d love to?  If it’s something that you really, really want to do then maybe it’s time to do it … none of us knows what tomorrow brings so is now too soon?


Rowena Hardy is the cofounder of Minds Aligned, a local consultancy offering facilitation of cultural change and strategic direction, leadership development, team alignment and personal and professional performance coaching.  She  works with organisations, groups and individuals combines aspects of neuroscience, psychology and self-awareness to establish a stable foundation of understanding, encourage fresh thinking and open up new possibilities. Find out more about Rowena and her work at www.mindsaligned.com.au.