Are You Kept In a Box by Your Fears?

This is a guest post by Justin Mazza of the award winning personal growth blog

Fear is a reaction to something that you believe to be true. You don’t have a feeling about anything unless you have a belief or a definition about the situation or experience that you are having.

It’s the reaction to your definition or belief that you “bought into” that causes your fears in the first place.

In the beginning

You are born. You learn to crawl, stand up, walk and eventually speak all on your own. Slowly you are indoctrinated into the customs of your society. You are told to sit still, to be quiet, to say please and thank you and to apologize when you are wrong.

You are placed in school, given a label and ultimately put in a box — limitations set for you. You didn’t like being in the box as most children don’t, but when you tried to get out, a friend, teacher, coach or parent gently — and sometimes not so gently —coaxed you back in.

They wanted you to stay in the box like them because if you became courageous enough and broke out of the box, it would force them to look at themselves, to acknowledge their own lack of courage and limiting beliefs.

And so you committed to living a dull, predictable and utterly boring existence.

This is what living a life of fear is like. You live in a box and become too afraid to break free of its constraints. The sad truth is that this is how the majority of people live their lives everyday. I say “sad” because they do not get to experience this World in a way that would be fun and exciting for them.

Caution vs. Fear

Living a fearless life does not mean living a life in which caution is never exercised. I want to make that clear before you read any more of this post.

Just remember that caution and fear are not the same thing. I seldom feel intense fear anymore but I am cautious. Just because I live a life that isn’t fear based does not mean that I don’t use caution when crossing the street or driving down an unfamiliar road for example.

Caution is not fear. It is simply the announcement of a clear choice to avoid outcomes which do not please you, and which do not represent who you are and who you choose to be.

Fear comes in various magnitudes. Deep fear — the kind that we can feel in the pit of our stomach, the kind that leaves our chest cold, the kind that stops our heart and generates huge amounts of energy. On the other hand, what I call “shallow” fear — the little fears of day-to-day life that really don’t run very deep (“Oh, I’ll never find a parking space”) rarely have any important or lasting effect and, indeed, often prove unfounded.

Letting Fear Stop You

I knew that fear was a key part in my life that kept me from taking action.

My fear was based upon insecurity and doubt. There were many things that I wanted to experience in life such as traveling out of the country or learning how to scuba dive, ( which I eventually learned how to do at the Cayman Islands).

I even had a fear of love at one time. Yes, I was afraid of being in love with another. It took me many years to learn to let go of this fear of love and to get to the root cause of it. Fear of abandonment.

I always believed that life is about growing and expanding yourself. But I often times would experience hesitation (fear) when trying something new.

I soon realized that this was my mind/ego’ attempt to keep me safe. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with my inability to move forward. It was my unexamined subconscious beliefs that were holding me back from creating a different reality. Beliefs that I could die, get hurt, embarrass myself or my family and so on.

If you want to start enjoying your life instead of fearing it, you have to take some risks and get outside of your comfort zone (your box).

Life begins outside your comfort zone.

Take Away

We all have a conscious mind and a subconscious mind. The Conscious mind is the “you” that is aware of what is going on around you. The subconscious mind is what causes your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe in oxygen and your basic daily habits.

If you truly want to get beyond your limiting beliefs about life and what you are capable of then you have to change your subconscious blueprint. The best way to do this is to tap into your subconscious mind and make the changes from there. If you try to make changes using only your conscious mind it won’t last because as soon as you are distracted your old conditioned habits will take over.

Justin Mazza is the owner and author of the award winning personal growth blog He invites you to have a look at his latest eBook and audio program: Overcoming Fear: Sticking it to What’s Holding You Back.

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  • David Hamilton

    The battle with fear is a huge issue as always, whether people are aware of it or not. 

    Really interesting what you’ve said about the fear of love, and fear of abandonment.  I completely relate to those, and for me would throw in fear of intimacy/vulnerability, which are all closely related.

    Once I learned that it wasn’t the fear itself, but my relationship to fear, how I interacted with it (i.e. run away, fight,freeze, etc vs go towards it, into it, expand around it) everything changed dramatically for me.  The practice of mindfulness is what transformed it for me, and then it doesn’t matter if fear shows up or not, because it will at some point.  Being comfortable with the fear and acting anyways in alignment with what you desire to do or be, is one of the most powerful things I can think of.

  • Jeff Nickles

    I love that you distinguish between fear and caution.  Fear keeps you trapped in the box.  It paralyzes you.  Caution is wise.  It doesn’t ruin an entire life chasing after a pipe dream.

    Also, I think we all need to realize that we have fears.  I don’t think anyone is completely fearless.  We all have things that scare us and hold us back.  The key is to recognize and admit your fear.  Then you can work on it.

  • Justin Mazza

     Thanks Jeff. So true, I don’t want people to believe that fear is wrong or unnatural either. The problem is when fear paralyzes people and they can’t even move on. I’ve read stories where someone was so stuck in a fear state that they couldn’t even sign their name on a piece of paper in front of someone else.

    I am still very cautious when I try something new. Once I get more comfortable with something then I take my foot off the brake a little and ease into.

    take care…

  • Justin Mazza

     Hi David, love your perspective here. For someone like me it only takes one painful experience to make me fear the same thing happening again. Learning to trust that the fear is trying to protect me from further pain has helped me to embrace fear instead of running away from it.

    take care…

  • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind


    Thanks so much for this wonderful post and being a part of SOTG! So many people, including myself, are driven by conditioning we are unaware of. Learning to push past this is what personal growth is all about. I also like that you mention the difference between caution and fear. There is a major difference between taking careless risks and taking personal risks that move us beyond our self-imposed limits! Such great stuff! 

  • David Stevens

    Beware of the ‘excuses’…they are more often the culprit…and excuses can be dealt with
    be good to yourselves Justin & Joe

  • Jodi Chapman

    Great post, Justin! It’s so true that life begins outside our comfort zone. Over the past year, I’ve been more cognizant about pushing through my fears. It can be scary, for sure, but I don’t want to look back at my life and know that I wasn’t truly alive. Love this!

  • Justin Mazza

     Thanks David. The excuses, yes you are right about them. They often perpetuate the fear in the first place.

  • Justin Mazza

     Thank you my friend. I am humbled by the opportunity to guest post on SOTG. I have been a long time reader of your blog and your topics and writings resonate with me very much.

  • Justin Mazza

     Thanks Jodi. So true and that was the main reason for creating the Overcoming Fear Program. Many of us don’t try new things or push our boundaries for fear of being outside our comfort zone.

    Too often I see the same people doing the same thing year after year. We are the most happiest and alive when we move through our boundaries and get out of our self made box.

    take care…

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  • Ken Wert

    Hey Justin, I used to plagued by fears growing up and riddled by insecurities. Then I started challenging them and forcing myself to think through the logic behind them. Once I started doing that, I started to realize most of my fears had no steady foundation. They were all built on sand. S pushing them over became a relatively easy prospect. I can relate to your fear of intimacy too. It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I started opening up this part of my life. Until then, my fear was that I wasn’t good enough to be loved. So never looking, never trying, never asking anyone out was my self-defense against the pain of rejection.

    This is a great post on what’s perhaps the greatest killer of futures and dreams and potential.

  • Justin Mazza

     Hey Ken,
    So true for many of us my friend. That’s awesome that you had the awareness and the guts to challenge your own fears and were able to dissolve them as a result.

    The World is denied the creative contribution of literally Billions of people around the World because they are kept prisoner by their own fears and limiting beliefs about themselves and what they can really contribute.

    Both of us faced our fears when we decided to become bloggers and share with the World our experiences, beliefs, inspiration and more. We both know that the biggest challenge was to just take that first step forward and “just do it.”

    take care…

  • Rob

    Indeed Justin. I believe that a lifetime of hearing “NO” accumulates into our present day fears A person overly sensitized to NO, will avoid trying anything new because he fears the pain of reprimand that comes with failing. This is the ‘fear of criticism’, a crippling fear that stirs up memories of an unpleasant past, which distracts the mind from imagining a successful future.

    A mind deluded by NO is a fearful, hampered mind. It has forgotten its power; it must be reminded.If you poisoned your body, you would take any measure to rid your body of the poison. We must let it be the same with our mind.

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