Fear - Barrier or Motivator?
Not so long ago through a series of shared posts and conversations I was reminded of the way fear can really stop us doing something.
At simple, primitive level, fear is there to protect us and caution us against doing something that could be dangerous. Too often though in our modern lives, fear also crops up at times when we’re not about to be eaten by a sabre tooth tiger or a bear in the woods.
It was only a few nights ago that I was talking with my son about why he feels afraid of the dark and doesn’t like walking around the house downstairs in the evening by himself. We talked about that primeval preservation instinct that served to keep us alive as we ran around the world in little more than an animal skin with a tree branch to protect ourselves.
He knows there is no predatory animal hiding behind the kitchen bench waiting to devour him the moment he walks past without paying attention. He knows there’s no 12 foot python lurking in the shoe rack that’ll strike and wrap him like a pig in a blanket should he not turn on the light going up the stairs.
But knowing all of that doesn’t stop him feeling afraid when parts of the house are dark and he’s by himself.
It got me thinking again of the things that I ‘knew’ and what fears I have (let’s face it, they’re still there!) that threaten to hold me back and slow me down in what I want to do.
I’m afraid of failure - at times so much that it does feel safer to not try so as to avoid that possibility. I fear the poor opinions and thoughts of others. I fear that I overestimate my own ability and that others will think me a fraud.
But then there are other fears that I have. I fear the world that my boys are growing up in. I fear that they might not be able to surround themselves with people who understand, appreciate and care for them (outside of family of course!). I fear they may struggle with their schooling and education and ultimately their ability to secure and maintain a level of stable employment.
It is these fears for their future that are the motivators for many of the things that I do. The work that I do with their school, supporting them in their extracurricular activities to help them become as well rounded and confident young men as they can be. It also these fears that drive me to tackle things that I fear myself personally.
What does it matter if others have a particular opinion of me, or if I do fail at the things I try. I would far rather face those fears and push forward with what really matters rather than let my boys down.
So perhaps it is the fear of failure that is the motivator, the fear of failing my boys and supporting them into their own futures.
So then the question is, what fears are holding you back? Are those fears centered on you or someone else? Are you more afraid of what you won’t achieve or what you could achieve?
If there is something that you really want to achieve, and I mean really want to achieve, what truly is stopping you from getting started?
Perhaps another way to consider it is, what regrets could you live with more? The regret of not having tried at all and not making a change at all or to have tried, shot for your goal and perhaps not quite achieved it or even failed?
We'll never be all things to all people, we'll never be able to please or impress everyone we meet. But should that stop us from being the person we want to be? Do you have a fear that's holding you back? Is it rational or are you more concerned with the opinion of people who don't matter?
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