Have you ever:
• Stopped yourself from saying what you wanted to say because of the way you imagined the other person would respond?
• Stayed in an unhealthy marriage to avoid being alone?
• Given in to your child’s temper tantrum to avoid a bigger tantrum?
• Silenced to sexual harassment because of the possible repercussions?
Fear is one of the greatest influencers on decision making. How many times has fear stopped you from setting a limit, sharing your different opinion or having a hard conversation? Chances are you have made many decisions out of fear, because most of us have and continue to do so. Unfortunately, making decisions out of fear often leads to poor decisions.
When it comes to relationships, the truth is that great relationships cannot happen if fear is running the show. If you’re too afraid to set a limit with your partner because you know s/he will get angry, then you’ll train yourself to take whatever they give you. When you allow the anger of a child to scare you into placating, you will raise an entitled child. Every time you choose an action based on how others will respond rather than what is the healthiest action to take, you put your wellbeing in the back seat and you also train others to put your welfare in the back seat. While fear is an important barometer for danger, it is not a great barometer for running your life.
Stepping out of your comfort zone will almost always be scary. Not doing so because it’s scary, though, will deprive you of great things. Having a hard conversation may leave someone upset, however not having a hard conversation can leave a problem entrenched. Choosing to leave a bad relationship may require you to be on your own, however staying in a bad relationship will cause you to lose yourself. Just because something is scary does not mean it is bad. Just because you fear that something will happen, does not mean it will happen. And just because others may get angry with you for making a choice they disagree with, doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice.
The funny thing about fear is that it’s only a feeling—not a foregone conclusion. Another way to look at fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real (F.E.A.R.). You will be afraid of a lot of things in life—many of which will never happen to you. You will also be certain about some things in life—many of which will never happen. The reality is that you cannot predict the future—for good or bad. Fear is our body’s warning system, so it is negatively skewed to seek out the slightest threat to us. You have to be aware of this negative skew. Rather than running your life by basing it on fear, begin to hone your skills at deciphering what is a true threat versus an imagined one. Don’t ever alter your life or your choices based on an imagined fear of what might happen if . . .
Challenge: When fear comes up, check it. Is this “bad” thing definitely going to happen or am I worried it will happen? If it’s not actually happening now, then it’s a worry. If it’s a worry, then ask yourself what decision/action would you take if you had no fear. Then take that action.