How Do You Think of Fear? Fear as Motivation, or Obstacle?

Fear. It’s everywhere. We are intimately aware of it as it is part of our everyday lives. For some people, fear immobilizes them. They stay home, hesitate, avoid or pull back from risks, opportunities, or relationships due to this fear. This was me for a long time, especially when I was in my worst anxiety episodes. But I notice that it is still me sometimes. In smaller ways. I procrastinate, and talk myself out of things that are “hard” all the time. (Even when they are not really hard, just tedious, or slightly uncomfortable, or just new). That brain wanting to conserve calories thing is REAL.

But I noticed that this just makes me stay small and more insecure. It is in the way of me.

On the other hand, some people use fear as motivation. They feel it, yet it propels them to act, change, shift in a way to prevent, or fix what they fear. Like a parent shifting into gear when their child gets cut and they have to stop the bleeding and get to the urgent care for stitches. They don’t have the luxury to be frozen in fear, they HAVE to move.

Feeling empowered by this response and the results from the action eliminates the feeling of fear and builds confidence. Using fear as motivation makes us feel better. This is actually how fear is supposed to work.

What is fear?

There are so many ways to think about the word fear. Let me share how I think of it. I define fear as a stimulus. It has been created to bring our awareness to a situation for the sole purpose of consciously deciding what to do about it. Fear calls our attention quickly. This is the thing, my loves, once it does that, fear is not necessary anymore. No more purpose. Not biologically. Not psychologically. Nor spiritually.

Once fear brings a situation into our consciousness, now our prefrontal cortex takes over. It has control to assess it and decide what to do. The prefrontal cortex can say, “This is too overwhelming and dangerous – I just need to crawl up in fetal position under my covers.” It can say, “Dangerous animal, run back to the village, now!” Or “What can I do to prevent more damage?” And, “This is actually not that bad, as long as we…” Or “I don’t know what to do, I can’t handle this. Oh no!”

When you trust yourself, which of these do you think you would say?

Watch my TEDxWilmington talk about how to build trust in yourself.

Fear as Motivation

The world can certainly seem like a scary place, can’t it? Everywhere we turn there is bad news waiting. It’s hard to feel safe and secure. We may feel judged, fragile, overwhelmed or vulnerable and that induces fear.

There’s a meme out there that goes something like this…

Fear can have two meanings.

Forget Everything And Run.

OR

Face Everything And Rise.

The choice is yours.

The question is: does fear stop you or propel you?

And the answer is, it depends on you. How you think of it, what action you take or don’t take. And this is a cornerstone to my teachings with clients and audience members around the world: you have way more power than you think. When you change your thinking around an issue, your entire perspective can shift. So, instead of seeing it as an obstacle, you can see fear as motivation to do better, work harder, go further, be more loving. It doesn’t have to be the thing that keeps us stuck. Rather, it can be the thing that propels us forward.

Maybe you’re afraid that your child is getting down on themselves about a low math grade so you commit to taking more time to help her with her homework. The fear of your child’s discomfort motivates you to connect more with your child in a way that benefits you both! Or perhaps you’re concerned you’re getting out of shape so you decide to start walking for thirty minutes every day. In this case, the fear of poor health motivates you to take better care of yourself. A total win!

(P.S. There is this whole online debate on how to tell the difference between rational fear and irrational fear. I protest this unhelpful debate in this podcast interview with Lucas Mack. Fear is fear- it doesn’t matter what kind of fear it is but what you do with it!)

Watch the video below as I share how the switch to seeing fear as motivation can truly benefit your life.

Changing How We Think About Fear

How to Change the Way We Think About FearClick To Tweet

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

It’s totally natural to feel scared at times. Change is hard. Relationships can be challenging. And then, life throws us curveballs. But remember that you can flip it all around and make the most of it. You are the captain of your own life, steering the ship through calm and/or choppy waters. You have made it through less and you will make it through more. Feel the fear, decide to move past it, remember what matters most and commit to supporting that!

Again, you are so much more powerful than you think.

What keeps you motivated to move past fear? Share with me.

3 thoughts on “How Do You Think of Fear? Fear as Motivation, or Obstacle?”

  1. What about if you get a physical response from your body? Such as, cold sweats in your hands, and feet. Which is caused by anxiety, essentially fear of something that is going to happen.

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