Fear is a great motivator.
No, really, just hear me out. Fear motivates us to do and not do things every day.
Unfortunately, it tends to motivate us to do the things that steal our joy and not do exactly the things that would create the life of our dreams.
As I look back over my life, I have allowed fear to call the shots much of the time. As a result, I have been left feeling empty and desperate even when achieving what appeared to be outward success in relationships, career and finances. The problem was that the goals were often set from a place of fear rather than a place of love. I was desperately reaching for achievements to feel good about myself rather than setting goals from a place of love in the confidence in who I already was.
So when I got the girl, received an award, or achieved a financial goal, I didn’t feel fulfilled because I didn’t feel deserving.
When fear drives us in this way, we sabotage the situation and in my case I ended up losing the girl, losing the job and wasting the money as a result of the very thing that pushed me there in the first place.
Now, I don’t prescribe to the myth that we need to strive to be fearless. Though it makes for a catchy song title, it just isn’t realistic. Fear is a real and sometimes even a necessary part of life, not something to run from. Much like pain, fear lets us know that we need to take action. From the very basic, fight or flight instinct it arouses in us, we understand that fear wants to protect us from potential harm. The thing we need to stay focused on is whether the fear is protecting us from real danger or is it trying to protect us from danger that we have conjured up in our mind.
Once I stopped running from my fears, I was able to determine the origin and could love and forgive myself for the misunderstandings I had about the fear and harsh judgments I made about myself. Now I even talk to the fear.
Rather than running or mentally checking out, when I feel fear, I will ask it, “What are you trying to teach me?” or “What are you trying to protect me from?”
This very act creates a new relationship with fear so that rather than judging ourselves as weak or lacking courage because we are fearful, we can understand the lesson that life is trying to teach us through it. When we are willing to be vulnerable and go through this process, fear will begin to serve us and not destroy our dreams or make them feel undeserved when we achieve them.
Without the self-judgment, we can determine what we need to do to muster up the courage to face and move beyond it. At this point, we simply need to find something that is more important than the fear on which to focus. We can picture the outcome if we move past the fear and allow ourselves to feel the emotion that would result from taking positive action toward a worthy goal. In this way, the potential outcome grows bigger than the fear, offering great incentive for us to move past it. Once moving past the fear, this picture of a positive outcome and the corresponding excitement built up can now serve as the motivation we need to stay in action.
As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
So since we know that fear is a part of life and that we need to have a new relationship with it, let’s lay down some basic ground rules for our fear.
The 6 Fear Rules:
1. Fear is not allowed to roam free in my life.
2. Fear is not allowed to determine what I do or don’t do.
3. Fear is not allowed to steal my dreams.
4. Fear is not allowed to steal my joy.
5. Fear is not allowed to grow bigger than my faith.
6. Fear is not allowed to grow bigger than the love I have for myself.
Author: Scott Chantos
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Sarah Kate McCarthy at Pixoto