Do you often feel stunted by fear? Does fear of rejection, looking bad, failure, and awkward interactions keep you from accomplishing what you want in life?

If you’re sick of being ruled by fear and would like to learn to let that go, then stick around . . . because today, we’re going to discover what’s really behind that fear so that you can work through it and move toward greater confidence and overall happiness.

All fear in life is steeped in the belief that some sort of threat exists.

So, the first distinction we need to make is the one between actual danger and made-up threats.

Believe it or not, it is possible to be scared when no actual threat exists. This is most evident in the case of extreme phobias. Consider, for example, arachnophobia: a crippling fear of spiders—something that (in most cases) poses absolutely no threat to you. You’re 1000 times its size, you’re smarter than it, and you’re faster than it, but when you see it, you become paralyzed with fear.

So, what is your phobia? Is there something that terrifies you on a daily basis?

Some of us worry that the boss or a client will be upset with us; some of us worry that we’ll have an argument with our spouse; some of us are worried that we’ll fail at something; some of us are scared of simply interacting with people—but what is behind that fear?

In today’s society, it’s not too common to run into a hungry panther or a charging rhino—most of the threats have little to do with our actual survival.

If you look closely, you may find that your fear isn’t based on a threat to your life—it’s based on a threat to your ego.

Let’s look at an example: one of my clients is a very successful bigwig in the banking industry. Even though he’s been very prosperous, he is feeling unfulfilled and would like to start his own business—but something is holding him back. When we started to unpack that hesitation, we found that it was a fear of failure that was keeping him from taking the leap.

Now, this particular gentleman is pretty well off—he’s got enough money saved for several years’ worth of survival, so we know that his fear can’t be based on any life-threatening scenario.

So, what is this fear based on? His ego. After a little prodding, we landed on the fact that he’d been so far ahead of his peers in his advancement up the career ladder that he was terrified at the idea of losing ground. If he let go of his job security and did his own thing, he might slip a couple of rungs on the ladder.

This is how powerful ego-based fear can be: he wasn’t even afraid of actually falling behind his peers—he was just afraid of not being as far ahead!

This breakthrough realization occurred during one of my mastermind sessions, and the second we landed upon it, mental lightbulbs began turning on for everyone involved. It was as though we had each discovered the Sun was the center of the solar system.

Personally, I could relate because of my running. I’m always trying to beat my old times, obsessively training and worried that I won’t hit a specific time on my next race. When I really look at the reason for this fear, though, it’s based on the threat to my ego—if I don’t get the time I’m aiming for, I might have to concede that my time isn’t as good as someone else’s.

Does this sound familiar?

So many of our fears in life are based strictly on threats to our egos.

Think about it: being rejected, getting reamed by the boss, failure, embarrassment—we could basically live life virtually free of stress if our egos didn’t exist.

So, what keeps us clinging to these fears? What if we could simply decide that these threats did not exist because happiness was more important than ego?

–          Someone doesn’t like me? Well, that stinks, but it’s not a real threat.

–          He’s mad at me? Well, I’ll talk to him about it, but it’s not a real threat.

–          I might make this speech and embarrass myself? Oh, well, it’s just words—not a threat.

Whether someone judges you or laughs at you or is disappointed in you or even hates you, the truth is that it’s not actually going to kill you. These are just human emotions, and when you finally start to realize that they pose no real threat to you, the liberation you feel will be amazing. You have the power to take control of your ego-based fears and let go of what is not serving you—so get started down that path today, and reap the benefits in your confidence and beyond!

As always, I invite you to subscribe and share your thoughts in the comments below. What are your crippling fears? If they’re not truly life-threatening, then what is really behind them? How has letting go of your ego-based fears affected your life? The more we know, the more we grow . . . so, share your experiences below so that the entire community can benefit from your wisdom.

Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.