3 Types of Fear That May Be Keeping You from Getting Fit (and How to Overcome Them)

Transform Fear Into ActionThis is a guest post from Tracy Barksdale co-founder of True Nature Training and presenter at the inaugural PrimalCon Austin.

We face fear daily. Maybe you’re afraid to ask your boss for that pay raise, or maybe you’re making a big life decision. But a not so obvious way fear may be creeping into your life to sabotage your efforts for a healthier lifestyle is in your movement. Whether you’re wanting to begin a new fitness routine or are a seasoned mover, it’s worth your time to evaluate how fear could be preventing you from reaching your full potential. Confronting that fear can help you reach your goals and bring you to the next level of your training. Let’s look at some common fears that could be preventing you from getting and staying active.

Fear of Failure

Remember when you were a kid, and you felt invincible? You would try almost anything, and if you failed, you would bounce back up without blinking twice. Somewhere along the way, most of us lost a great deal of that resilience and have become scared to move!

What if we fail at something we thought we would be able to do? Failure has a bad reputation. Everyone fails, yet we are all afraid of it.

Does this inner dialogue sound familiar to anyone?

“I should really be able to do a push up…I know I used to do lots of push ups, but now I don’t think I can do any. I don’t want to fail, so I don’t want to try. I’d rather do something else.”

This is a thought process called self-handicapping. I have to admit, this one gets me. I practice Parkour and natural movement which both contain some scary skills. When I am placed in a situation where I am surrounded by practitioners who are much more experienced than I am, my first reaction is to go into self-preservation mode, so I can avoid revealing that I may not be able to do something. Since becoming aware of this behavior pattern, I can more easily recognize when I am doing it, confront it, drop the ego, and try! It is amazing how much you can accomplish when you get out of your own way.

Take Action: The key here is letting go of the ego, and developing a playful and positive attitude. Robert Allen reminds us that “There is no failure. Only feedback.” So feedback, then, will always be a part of everyone’s life in some way. You have to choose to accept this feedback as a part of the human condition. You have to start somewhere. Wherever you are, it’s okay. Take charge of your path of improvement. When you do this, you will surprise yourself with how much room for success you create.

Fear of Judgement

Let’s be honest. To some of the general population, some of the primal movements can seem strange and even child-like. (Little do they know, kids have had it right the whole time!) Climbing a tree, or rolling in the grass can be viewed as activities for kids, and adults should act like adults, not kids. I suppose that means contained in their cubicles, and not free in trees. But what is more natural than crawling in some grass, lifting logs and jumping on rocks?

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all seek acceptance from our communities. It’s common to fear rejection from your peers if you are doing something outside of the box, and outside of the general population’s scope of what working out should look like.

Take Action: A remedy for this fear is working out/playing with a group of people. Starting a MeetUp group is an excellent way to find others interested in joining in on some primal playouts. Schedule group hikes, bring in local primal fitness experts, or get together a game of Ultimate Frisbee with your group. You might draw more attention with a larger group, but now you have the validation of an entire group of people with you. You also develop a stronger community, which in turn helps spread the word of living a Primal lifestyle. People may judge, but in the grand scope of things, you are working towards lifelong health and that trumps any judgment others may have.

Fear of Injury

Sometimes a movement can literally just be scary. The fear of going for that tall box jump, balancing high off the ground, or going for that huge lift can be a scary experience. No one wants injury, and when going into unknown territory, well…the outcome is unknown. To quote Daniel Ilabaca: “If you’re afraid to fall, you fall because you’re afraid.” If you approach a task with fear, you are preparing to fall instead of preparing to succeed. Expectations are extremely powerful. Predicting that you are going to drop the weight makes you much more likely to make that come true.

Avoid creating self-fulfilling prophecies by becoming mindful. Meditate regularly, and when you are preparing to try something new, take some deep breaths, imagine yourself succeeding, and stay focused. This mindfulness can greatly help you avoid injury.

Take Action: Progress skills properly. For example, precision jumps can be scary, yet when progressed correctly, are a great skill to practice. Begin by grabbing a couple of 2x4s and set them parallel to each other with only a foot or two distance. Practice jumping between the two and landing on the balls of your feet and absorbing through your legs to make a quiet landing. As you get comfortable with the distance, you can increase the distance between the 2×4’s. As the distance to your landing increases, the more important it is to have a parabolic jump. This means your jump’s path through the air should be rainbow shaped versus too horizontal. Not having this parabolic motion can cause an unstable landing surface to slip beneath your feet.

Precision Jump Technique

Another way to prevent injury is to have an exit strategy. What happens if mid-jump you discover you aren’t going to make it? How are you going to land? How far will you fall? How will you stop your momentum safely? Try your exit strategy before going for the actual skill. Then when you really go for it, you know how to bail out of it if you aren’t quite there yet. Practicing this exit strategy will take away some of that fear of injury.

The Take-Away

The good news is that the more often you face your fears, the better you will become at recognizing when fear is present, and knowing how to breeze past it. Starting is always the hardest part, and seeking help from those in your community is an excellent way to start. If you are looking for a place to start, you can look towards MeetUp groups, or even come join us for PrimalCon Austin this June to meet a group of welcoming and trusting people to kick start your Primal lifestyle efforts again! You will meet so many interesting presenters and attendees you will leave feeling energized and motivated to face your fears and find freedom of movement again. I will be there, and hope to see you there!

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