Photo by Ian Dooley

Think about something you want from your life. Have you wanted it for a long time? Does it feel slightly out of reach? Desire is delicious, but it isn’t enough on its own to create a new reality.

Action is required, of course, but moving from A to B begins with a clear sense of your internal beliefs — and how they might be holding you back.

Got a great idea for a business? If you believe you’re don’t deserve success, you’ll sabotage your vision. Long for a loving relationship? If you think you’re not lovable, you’ll struggle to find one, and may even seek out unhealthy partnerships.

Fears run deep, forming during our early years, usually in response to unpleasant experiences we experience or messages we received from our parents, teachers, or other voices of authority.

For me, it was a message that I wasn’t good enough unless I worked very hard. As a result, I learned to equate my self-worth with external achievement. This go-getting attitude, while useful, proved a double-edged sword. When I worked as a journalist, I set my sights on having my byline in top magazines around the globe. When I achieved those successes, however, I rarely felt the pleasure of my hard work, but would instead move quickly to the next tick-box in an ever-lengthening list of goals. This work ethic followed me throughout my life and eventually led to repeated burnout and, ultimately, a deep reevaluation of my inner worth.

Today, in my work as a coach and psychotherapist, I see this fear of not being good enough repeated in many of my clients. Other widespread worries? Fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of success. Practically, these concerns show up as painful, sticky habits like procrastination, inertia, and self-sabotage. (Sound familiar?)

Thankfully, fear doesn’t have to be forever. Recognising it is the first step toward dismantling it.

Cast your mind back to that thing you want from your life. Say it aloud. Ask yourself what you’re afraid of and notice (really notice!) what comes up. Feel the response in your body. Then ask the question again. And again. And again.

When you feel a little bit nauseous, a bit dizzy, or feel a rush of shame or embarrassment around the answer, you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Uncovering our fears isn’t comfortable, but doing so allows us to welcome them more widely and dance with them until they start to loosen and shift. And that’s when exciting things begin to happen.


  • Jennifer Pirtle

    Coach. Psychotherapist. Writer. Thinker. Straight-talking change champion.

    Jennifer Pirtle is a coach + psychotherapist who helps women make the life+work shifts that matter most. She's also an accomplished journalist, editor, and successful entrepreneur. American-born, she has lived in Los Angeles, New York City, and now calls London home.