By Nancy Anderson


“Two common obstacle that stands to the fulfillment of our potentials are the fear of poverty and the fear of criticism. Don’t let them stand in your way.”


Does fear stand between you and the job, business or creative project of your dreams? Two common obstacles to the fulfillment of our potential are the fear of poverty, and the fear of criticism. To overcome these fears you need to bring them out of the subconscious so that you can examine them in the light of understanding. Then you can take the action you need to take.

The Fear of Poverty:

The chief symptom of the fear of poverty is constantly worrying about not having enough money, even when you have the money you need. The minute you think about changing or leaving a job, up comes the fear that you will run out of money. Is it any wonder you cling to the safe paycheck, even though you are miserable? And since there’s no proof the new job will be better, you don’t take the first step to success: get accurate information, such as talking with people who are doing what you want to do and doing it well.

You can bring the fear of poverty down to size by asking what-if questions: “what if I find the work I really want to do?” And, “what if I make all the money I need (need, not want)?” Or most importantly, “what if I like my work so much I never want to retire?” Imagining positive outcomes is the carrot that will motivate you to take action.

  • Admit that you are not happy.
  • Put away some savings.
  • Get the education or training you need to excel at what you want to do.
  • Associate with people who take risks in spite of their fears.
  • Persevere through self-doubt until you get where you want to go.
  • Celebrate when you reach your destination!

The Fear of Criticism:

The second fear that keeps you stuck in a rut is the fear of criticism. This fear is rampant in a culture that values status and money, not how much you enjoy what you do for a living.

The symptoms of the fear of criticism are shyness, procrastination, inability to accept correction without defending, lack of perseverance, ambivalence about starting and completing projects, seeing mistakes as unforgivable failures, and the need for approval. Many original ideas have died at birth because of the fear of looking wrong or stupid in the eyes of others, including those who are close to you. Regrettably, the fear of criticism can cause you to miss golden opportunities for growth.

If you grew up in a highly critical family, you may have internalized a voice that scolds you mercilessly when you make a mistake. Even when you have done nothing wrong, you castigate yourself. It does not occur to you that critics could be wrong, or that the flaws they see in you belong to them.

The antidotes to the fear of criticism are compassion, preparation, and humor.

COMPASSION means that you have sympathy for the human condition. You accept that none of us is supposed to be perfect, that we are all here to learn. Ironically, tolerance for error makes it easier to acknowledge and correct mistakes. You are also more open to constructive criticism, which attracts critics who help you to improve.

PREPARATION is a good pair of hiking boots that take you through the roughest terrain. No matter the criticism you hear, you know you didn’t take shortcuts so you handle what is said or written about you with objectivity.

HUMOR gives you perspective, which defuses hostility. Even the harshest critics can’t harm you when you can laugh at your mistakes. If you are too self-critical, talk with friends who remind you not to take yourself so seriously.

The fear of poverty and criticism is no match for the certainly that comes after you take the risk that scares you. So don’t expect absence of these fears; just concentrate on how good life will be when you are paid to do what you love.

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