Acting Out of Fear Often Means Not Acting at All

Do you find yourself acting act out of fear? Often, this isn’t even a conscious decision. It's usually due to limitations you impose on yourself that probably stemmed from your childhood.
Acting Out of Fear Often Means Not Acting at All

Last update: 25 July, 2021

Acting out of fear means that fear determines the decisions you make. It also tends to dictate your lifestyle. However, people have a tendency not to notice or, if they do, they try to cover it up.

Sometimes, excessive caution, seriousness, or over-conscientiousness are ways of acting out of fear. You may find that you cope better if you view this kind of behavior as a virtue. Therefore, you ignore the limitations it places on your life.

In fact, acting out of fear is a way of not acting at all. Fear often prevents you from doing things. Furthermore, it’s frequently based on imaginary risks and dangers. Therefore, you either end up completely depriving yourself of doing something, or you place so many limits on doing it, that you lessen the experience.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

-Dale Carnegie-

A man looking into the distance.

Signs that you’re ruled by fear

As we mentioned above, you often don’t realize that you’re being ruled by fear. This is because it isn’t a conscious process. In fact, it’s the result of an education or a series of experiences that took away your confidence in your abilities. It concerns unresolved trauma, painful experiences, and misrepresentation of danger.

If you want to know if you’re being ruled by fear, look out for these warning signs:

  • You hate change. You tend to act in the same way, no matter the situation. If there’s even a hint of change, you feel threatened and upset. In fact, you just want everything to stay the same.
  • You’re extremely indecisive. Even when you have a clear option in front of you, you hesitate. Furthermore, if there’s a change or a risk involved, you hesitate for even longer. In fact, you tend to give so much thought to everything that you end up doing nothing.
  • Your head is filled with projects you’ve never carried out. For example, perhaps you would’ve liked to go on a safari but never had the time or money, or you have some other excuse for not doing it. Also, there are times when you want to speak out but choose not to, as you want to avoid any problems. These are just two examples.
  • You criticize people who take risks. For some reason, you’re uncomfortable with people who are very determined or who face change or risk head-on. However, your annoyance stems from the fact that you really want to be like them but you can’t.
  • You’re great at imagining the worst. You can conjure up all kinds of disasters and dangers in your head, such as fires, earthquakes, and robberies. In fact, you have a tendency to think of such things whenever you need to make a decision.
A woman holding a flower.

Is it possible to stop acting out of fear?

It’s always possible to change. Not because others tell you to, but because you’ll benefit from changing. Stay calm. Overthrow that dictatorship of fear. However, you first need to recognize that your cautiousness isn’t simply a character trait. In fact, you lack confidence.

Fear of acting often has extremely deep roots. It might’ve started in your early life and increased over the years. As a matter of fact, to stop acting out of fear, you need to challenge what your parents taught you. For instance, perhaps they taught you that the world was a perilous place with hidden dangers lurking around every corner.

Despite your years of experience, you still may feel unable to escape your parents’ convictions. You might even feel guilty for disobeying them. Because you feel that, if you love them, you should still always do what they said you should. Nevertheless, if you want to stop acting out of fear, you have to cross those boundaries. In fact, they no longer make any sense anyway.

Sometimes, you also have fixed experiences in your mind. Once upon a time, they violated you and you live with the constant fear they may do so again. It takes a great deal of courage to leave behind those painful ghosts. However, it helps if you see them as just that, ghosts, as they disappear when you look them in the face.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Hurtado, F. A. (2015). Antropología del miedo. Methaodos. Revista de ciencias sociales, 3(2), 262-275.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.