The five fears that hold you back – being alone

In the final article in our series on fear we look at the fear of being alone, and how you can overcome it to seek out the happiness and opportunities you deserve.

Over the past four weeks, career management coach and corporate trainer Jane Jackson has shared some of the five big fears that hold us back in our careers:

This week she’s looking at the final big fear – the fear of being alone, revealing how it keeps us in relationships and situations we may have outgrown, or that aren’t healthy for us, and why you need to face the fear and just do it!

We all want to fit in

The fear of being alone is a huge one. This is the fear that keeps us in bad relationships and unsatisfactory work environments, and stops us from doing what we really want to do simply because we want to fit in with a group or maintain the status quo.

A ‘group’ can be many things:

  • Friends.
  • Family.
  • Colleagues.
  • A social group.
  • A club or organisation you belong to.
  • An online group.
  • A person you are in a relationship with.

It’s human nature to want or need to be part of a group – as a strategy for survival it’s essential. But at times we can all feel scared that, if we take that first step to make a change, assert our own needs and preferences, or reach for something we really want, we may alienate our group and end up alone.

Friends and family can reinforce your fear

To make matters worse, friends, family or your partner can sometimes reinforce your fear by sabotaging your attempts to make improvements in your life that will give you less time with them, take you away from them, or potentially lead you to outgrow them.

Because they love you and enjoy your company they may encourage you to make decisions that keep you with them, without considering the broader impact on your life.

Other times, people can consciously hold you back, fearing that if you get what you want you may leave or outgrow them – acting on their own fear of being alone, or simple selfishness, control or jealousy.

Fear keeps us in the wrong situations

But while our fear of being alone may have been born from a natural instinct to survive, it can also do the opposite – slowly suffocate us and kill off opportunities for a happier, healthier and more successful life.

Many times people stay in bad and abusive relationships because they are afraid of being on their own. Or hold themselves back from taking qualifications or job opportunities that may move them away from their friends, family or colleagues – either geographically or emotionally.

It feels much more comfortable and safe to stay where we are now (better the devil you know) – even if in reality that situation is not comfortable – than to risk reaching for more and finding ourselves without a group or person to belong to.

Examples of fear holding us back

There so many ways that a fear of being alone can stop us from living the life we want. Here are just a few examples:

  • Hanging out with people you don’t completely connect with because they’re the only friends you have.
  • Staying in your current work environment because you don’t think anyone else will hire you.
  • Remaining in a bad relationship because you don’t want to be single.
  • Not starting your dream business because you worry you won’t have enough time for your family, friends or partner.
  • Clinging onto unhealthy habits because you think your family will mock you if you change your lifestyle.

How can you stop your fear from holding you back?

As with all the fears I’ve discussed over the past five weeks, the key to moving past your fear of being alone is to recognise that it is stopping you.

Then you can honestly assess situations, look for any fears or hesitations and ask yourself why you’re feeling them. Are you doubting an opportunity or decision because you are afraid of being rejected by, or losing the protection of, a group or person?

Ideally, people who love you will want the best for you. And if that means reaching for something that may mean changes in your life, they will support you – even at cost to themselves.

The people who truly love you will support you

And if people don’t do this, you have to ask yourself why. Maybe they are allowing their own fears to stop you? Perhaps their own fears have limited their own lives? And are you prepared now to let them do the same to yours?

By reaching for the opportunities and life that you want, and ensuring that you fulfill all your dreams and potential, you’ll live a more rewarding life – and get the chance to encounter new, more fitting, groups to become a part of.

And the people who genuinely love you will still be there too. Supporting your decisions, growing with you and sharing the rewards of your happiness.

Let go of your fears and LIVE!

Only when you liberate yourself from your fears can you truly be free, and live the life you deserve. Always remember that you owe it to yourself to be the best you can be. 

As I conclude this series on fear, I would like to leave you with this wonderful quote by the spiritual teacher, author and lecturer Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be?”

Now go and make the most of your life – there is so much that you can do!

Want to read more about the psychology of success?

If you’ve enjoyed Jane’s series about the fears that hold us back from success you may also find these articles useful:

Jane Jackson is a career management coach and corporate trainer specialising in building the confidence of executives who have experienced a redundancy or are at a crossroads in their careers. Her 7 Step C.A.R.E.E.R.S. programme, addresses all of these mistakes.