The Top 10 Fears that Seek to Hold You Back

If you want to live spiritually and emotionally healthy, you will have to learn to overcome certain fears that will limit your potential. Too often, we spend our lives catering to fear, avoiding what we should be facing, while obsessing over things we need not pay attention to. This keeps us in cycles of limitation. For most of us, we are often one fear away from a major breakthrough. It’s just a matter of “do we want to face this or not?”

Getting free and breaking through limitations often starts with getting honest about what fears are holding you back. For too many, fear is their best friend. They hate listening to him, but they follow what he says anyway.

Getting Honest About My Fears

This was my life. I lived according to the radar of fear every day. But it took some time for me to realize how much I gave fear my attention.

When I would shut down one voice, fear would find another way to speak. I had to realize that in order to get free, I needed to get honest about the fear factor that was coming against me and take a strong stance of war against its tactics.

With that in mind, there are ten key fears I had to face and overcome that were helpful in my journey. This will also help you get empowered to break off the limitations that are on your life.

1. Fear of Vulnerability

One of the initial fears we have when first interacting is the fear of vulnerability. You wonder, “can I really open up to this person? Can I really be myself with them?”

This kind of fear is enhanced by a rejection mindset. It empowers an inner  battle of fear that people will see our flaws and reject us.

While writing this, I spoke with someone who was growing in ministry and had some amazing opportunities to step into church leadership positions. One of the biggest thoughts that came flooding in was the fear of vulnerability. It said, “if they really know me and my flaws, they may change their mind.” This fear can prevent us from stepping into what God intends for us.

Vulnerability is one of the greatest weapons to influence people and touch their lives in dramatic ways. Yet we run from it all the time.

The strength of vulnerability is that I can live powerfully from my heart. But I am not going to sugar coat this. It can leave me susceptible to being hurt. This is the risk that all overcomers and influencers take. Masses of other people avoid this issue altogether.

Fear magnifies the risk of being vulnerable, while minimizing the potential good, Faith tells us being vulnerable is one of God’s greatest ways to use us. The message of faith says, “if people hurt us, our Father provides a place of healing, so we can get back in the game with even more strength.”

But fear doesn’t want you to realize this. It pushes you to put up walls and keep yourself in a bubble, where people cannot receive the blessing of the real you.

If we don’t deal with this fear, we will spend our lives posing, putting on a facade that is really an imposter. The front carries a nice Instagram life, where we paint a picture of success and everything appearing wonderful.

2. The Fear of Rejection

One of the loudest fears we can carry is the fear of being rejected by someone. Those who have experienced rejection can carry a memory of that pain and can seek to avoid that ever happening again.

For many, encountering rejection even in the smallest form is their worst nightmare. They do not want to undergo anything close to the hurt they previously endured. The wound, created in a person from experiencing rejection, is awful and fear will play on their desire to avoid that pain at all costs.

We can live our entire lives driven by a fear of being rejected. The way we talk to people, our avoidance, how we joke around and the phrasing of our words all can communicate how we simply live to avoid being rejected by people.

This can all tag on fears of what people think and people pleasing patterns. Most of all, we lose out on simply being ourselves.

3. Fear of Abandonment

People who have been abandoned, by a father, mother or key love interest, have a hard time becoming emotionally connected to others. Deeply embedded in them is a work of abandonment, enlarged by fear, that programs them to live in a way that assures they will never be abandoned again.

To prevent being hurt, they don’t allow themselves to get close to anyone. They are trained to believe, “If I do not let them in, they cannot hurt me or abandon me.” The problem is they never get close to anyone and end up traveling through life as an emotional nomad, always at an arm’s length from others. This prevents them from experiencing the healing power of love.

4. Fear of Failure

Failing is one of the greatest teachers in life, but we avoid it all costs. On top of it, the success driven culture that we live in oppresses people into feeling their life is a failure. For many, feeling failure is the end, because failing means you are a failure. This is a classic lie that prevents us from taking risks and being ok with flaws, mistakes and weakness.

What empowered the fear of failure in  my life was an internal belief that mistakes and failures were unacceptable. Everything had to be done right and come out right. So I ended up paralyzed by the fear to do nothing, or I acted under tremendous pressure.

5. Being afraid of God

Those who are afraid of God either look at Him based on how they saw their parents or how their parents taught them to see God. Being afraid of God makes us wonder if He is mad at us or in a bad mood. We can think He has something against us and feel that we are never good enough.

If we are afraid of God, we will approach Him sheepishly, wondering if He will truly embrace us and accept us. Without a love understanding of God, we will not approach Him boldly. He wants us to run to Him with confidence, as a son or daughter running into the arms of a Father.

For years, this stronghold was wrapped around my thinking like a constricting snake, choking the life out of my walk with God. The rejection in my heart kept me at a distance from Him.

Any time I would pray, and I mean any time, I would feel that I needed to go through 100 hoops of repentance and asking of forgiveness to feel His presence. I would feel that after I did a list of religious duties and prayed long enough, I could maybe enter into some peace. Yet I only found myself neck deep into feeling separated again.

The Confusion of Feeling Separated

In the deep trenches of feeling separated from God, I also believed that my desires were all evil and God would oppose any request I brought to Him. When I would have a desire in my heart and attempted to pray about it or for something, I would immediately think that God wanted the opposite. I felt so defeated. What a self-abusing spiritual walk! Much of this came through a fear of God that I carried and that needed to be removed.

I needed to be made more secure in knowing the love of the Father, which involves Him accepting me in His deep love, which was shown through Christ. I needed a revelation that God is for me, not against me, and that many of the desires in my heart were actually desires He put there. He wanted me to know His love and confidently go after all that He had for me.

Freedom from the Pressure

Overcoming my fear of Him actually set me free to make mistakes, knowing that He is not going to kill me and cast me aside. His mercy is new every morning for me and His gracious love is fresh for my heart everyday. How can God bring transformation in my life if I do not feel I can freely approach Him?

Some people do not understand the difference between the fear of the Lord and what the Bible describes as a spirit of fear. The fear of the Lord is an intense awe, respect and reverence for who God is in all of His glory, holiness and power. When God manifests Himself in glorious ways, there is a sober respect and absolute amazement that comes over us, to honor and bow before the greatness of who He is.

The difference is also that a fear of the Lord is bred out of a deep love relationship with God. Being afraid of God is bred out of not understanding His love and being trained in a religious legalism.

God’s glory brings a holy fear of the Lord, but it is not a tormenting fear that leaves you bound. A spirit of fear is tormenting, chasing you down and repeating its impulses constantly; keeping you obsessing and lacking peace. The fear of the Lord carries a passionate love with an invitation for us as God’s children to draw nearer, not just run away and hide.

6. Financial Fears

Modern culture is under a cloud of financial pressures and fears. What man has pursued in development, achievement and success, has not become a grip over people’s hearts. They measure their sense of safety and status based on what the financial portfolio says.

Interestingly enough, even when the bank account, investments and financial outlook say wonderful things, people are still not truly at peace. The fear is still there.

Anyone who desires to be an overcome has to face this fear regarding financial provision at some point in their life, if not many times.

The fear of finances can induce a pressure that drives people to take action, but in a panicked way. We lose sight of our vision and where we are going, because we have been trained to magnify this issue of provision

Provision was satan’s top temptation with Jesus. “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (Matthew 4:3) In other words, “find a way to engage provision on your own. God will not provide.” That’s the lie that comes after us to inflate fear’s attack.

7. Fear Regarding Tomorrow (Worry)

When you wake up and think about your day, is there excitement of what opportunities are available, or do you drown in what could go wrong?

Worry is the fear of tomorrow. It conditions us to project into the future with fear’s voice in it. It produces chronic negativity, pessimism and thinking patterns that keep people stuck.

“I am just a worrier,” many say. The worrying label comes out of those who feel that worry will just always be a part of their life. The fear has become so real and unrelenting, they have accepted that it will just be a way of life for them.

But imagine what would happen if your meditation and projection was turned into faith, hope and love?

8. Distrust  

Distrust is another sign that rejection and fear has taken root. Distrust trains us in pressure-filled self-protection at all costs. Distrust erodes the quality of our relationships and steals our peace. It leads us to become very cynical and skeptical.

Throughout the world, people are becoming more distrusting, because of the wounds they have endured. We place the hurt of our past relationships onto the present one.

In my previous pastoring work, I found that most things that we labeled as “discernment,” was actually mistrust and suspicion. Their hurts were interfering with their ability to discern.

Distrust and Suspicion

Suspicion won’t trust, so the person fails to enter into new relationships or new ventures in God. It can cause people to become paranoid, believing that someone is getting “one-up” on them.

Fear has taught us to question everything: “Don’t trust anyone. Look out for yourself, because no one else will.” They start to have an immediate perception of people and their motives before they even get to know them. They become way too guarded.

Losing our ability to trust steals our ability to walk in faith. We cannot walk in faith without operating in trust. Trust involves being vulnerable and letting your guard down. Trust believes and is willing to take a risk.

If you are in fear of people getting close, you can miss the blessing. The solution is to face our fears and let the walls come down. Let real transparency come forth. God will meet us in that. His power will come to true fruition when we let go, face our fears and trust in Him.

I have found that sometimes it takes years for me to get an opportunity to minister to someone, simply because they do not trust. I have no problem with earning a person’s trust, but we all have to make a decision at some point to be willing to trust again. We have to once and for all let our guard down or else we will never experience the jewel of being loved on by others.

9. The Fear of Confrontation

How often do we have a major problem with someone, but we have never taken the time to actually talk to them about it? We share it with a score of other people, but never actually go to the person.

In the majority of cases I have worked with of people being hurt by someone, they rarely ever had a face to face conversation about the issue. The church has become conditioned to avoid confrontation, for fear of what may happen if things don’t go well.

God inserted conflict resolution in Matthew 18 not only because He wants us to have healthy relationships, but also so we could be courageous with one another. Healthy conflict resolution can only happen when the person has the courage to talk to the other person in love.

I have had confrontations go really well. It made my relationships so much better. In fact, Melissa and I share a great marriage because we have learned to confront each other with compassion.

I have also had confrontations go really bad . . . really bad! But in each situation, facing confrontation was always better for my growth and potential. I have learned so much, even in the situations where confrontation did not go well.

10. Fear of Man (Intimidation)

We will never truly defeat fear or a rejection mindset without facing the fear of man. Every person will have to confront this, because it is a snare drenched in the swamp of “What do others think? What do they think of me?”

The fear of man is intimidation that keeps us from being confident and bold. It trains you to back down and lose your power. A fear of man will teach us to make our decisions based on what everyone around us is thinking.

We cannot compromise truth to have favor with people, as this is classic fear of man behavior.

Personally, I have had at least three major encounters with getting free of the fear of man. I was controlled by this spirit, because I lived by what people thought, or even what I perceived they thought, and I would alter my behavior to please them.

Every time I confronted that stronghold, a roaring shout would rise out of me. It was like a roaring lion was screaming through me, saying, “Enough is enough! My actions will not be dictated by this anymore!

Question: What fear are you taking a stand against today?

Recommended Resources: