My girlfriend fears snakes and I find it amusing. I tried to provide her the comfort but everything backfired.

Fear is something that has affected all of us at some point in life, and for many it continues to play a big role. We fear many different things, from things and ideas to even people that we encounter day to day. If you allow it, fear can take over your life, not just mentally but also physically. However, many people choose to live in fear of certain things and people nevertheless, as if they’re unaware of the significance fear holds regarding personal growth.

Here are four things we often overlook when addressing fear.

1. Fear doesn’t have to be permanent

It may seem as if the things and/or people we fear are just small things that are okay as long as they remain “out of sight, out of mind”, but we shouldn’t make a habit of just allowing our fears to keep a permanent residency in our lives. Settling for the thought that fears will always exist is self defeating.

Understand that you don’t have to remain afraid of things just because. That fear is remaining a permanent resident simply because you haven’t decided that you’re ready to serve an eviction. The beautiful thing about fear is that it doesn’t have to be permanent unless you allow it to be.

2. Fear often works as a disease

Like diseases in your body, fear has the potential to cripple your personal growth and keep you from being your best self. You wouldn’t ignore a disease that is taking over your body, and it’s important to avoid ignoring fears that are hindering your progress in life. Both have the potential to spiral out of control, limiting us in many ways.

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The best way to deal with fear is to first admit the fear exists, as we would have to come to terms with a diagnosis of a disease, in order to even begin seeking treatment or change. Addressing the fears you may have is the only way to overcome them.

3. Fear is often disguised as disinterest

Some of the very things we always claim we simply don’t want to engage in are really things we actually fear. It’s easy to decline anything that makes us uncomfortable, justifying it with simple disinterest. The truth is that often the disinterest often stems from thoughts of not being good enough, being ridiculed, or being afraid to get hurt. If you refrain from anything due to those types of feelings, you are acting out of fear of that very thing.

That’s not to say that it’s always a bad thing. There are some healthy fears we have that actually work to keep us as safe as possible and making smart decisions. However it’s important to not allow yourself to continue to disguise fears that hinder your growth as lack of interest.

4. Fear is a comfort zone

The things and people we fear might be things we constantly try to avoid, but it doesn’t change the truth. That truth is that fear is usually a comfort zone and mindset we have created for ourselves in order to avoid stepping out of our safety nets and confronting that which may make us feel uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t make the things we fear any less scary. It doesn’t make your reasoning for being afraid of these things or people any less justifiable. This truth is just stating that the mindset created out of the fear often serves as a comfort zone we are not willing to step out of.

Being your best self is impossible when you continue to live in comfort zones, because progress simply does not live there. No amount of substantial growth in your life can happen without you agreeing to take steps towards overcoming things that have instilled fear in your heart and mind.

It’s important to understand the role your fears play in your life, and how they affect you both directly and indirectly. Once you understand this, you can begin to understand how these same fears may be hindering you from your ultimate potential.  It’s time to stop overlooking the details in your life that are crippling you from achieving your best life.

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Nikhil Chandwani is the Founder and Editor in Chief of NYK DAILY. He is an author of 13 books which are translated in six languages, a TED speaker and Chairman of Writers' Rescue Centre. He is also a Visiting Professor with leading B-Schools.

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