It’s a valid question, since fear does play a part in protecting us, even saving our life sometimes. If you’re a woman walking home alone in the dark, would you walk down a deserted alley that looked spooky and potentially threatening? Would you cross the street with on-coming traffic going fast enough to question whether you’ll make it to the other side in time? Would you let your 8 year old child walk to school alone? Would you head out on the road in a blizzard, just to meet friends for dinner? Answering no to these questions would sound like a good choice, right? At the very least, it’s a safe choice.
There’s nothing wrong with being careful and cautious, with using our fear to inform and influence us. Fear works to support us. So let’s consider the examples above. Even though saying no in these instances are a good choice, the thought process that happens around these choices, clearly arise from fear. For example, you wouldn’t send your 8-year-old to school, because you may be concerned that he or she gets lost or distracted, or worse, ends up in harm’s way. But clearly, it’s the thought process that happens for you that drives the choice. There was a time and place where people felt safe enough to go to sleep without locking their doors and children walking to school alone, was an everyday, normal occurrence. In a world where children are abducted, it’s a good choice to be supervised. So, it’s the thought or belief process that’s important here and whether our choices are made from a healthy fear place.
We’re always going to have thoughts and beliefs about our choices. There will always be the voice inside our heads that argue for or against a choice, and that’s where fear can rule our lives if we’re not aware of how to process what we’re hearing. And, since much of this process is unconscious, we’re not even aware that such a process exists. Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of not getting what we want, fear of losing control, fear of abandonment, fear of not being able to take care of ourselves, fear of what others will think, fear of what we will think, and on and on. These fears are what paralyze us and very often has us making the wrong choices, because the safe choice is not always the right choice. The safe choice keeps us from being all we can be and getting all that we desire if safe means not taking risks that are needed to move ahead in life. And then everyone gets cheated in the end. We do and certainly those that benefit when we’re at our best do too. If you think about it, and track it to the deeper fear, it’s that we don’t matter after all, that love and happiness aren’t out there, that our desires and dreams are only fantasies that could never happen, the same thoughts and beliefs incidentally, that prevent us from taking the risk. How tragic is that?
I had dinner with a friend last night, who said that she’s been waiting a long time to commit to the right man. Meanwhile, she’s dating a man she says she doesn’t love, and admits that she will never love and knows the relationship is going nowhere. She’s dissatisfied with her job and is making attempts to transition her career and move to another city, but was discussing certain options about staying where she is for another couple of years. As I listened to her, I knew that fear was driving her choices and that if not for the fear of ________, she’d be on a plane as soon as possible and leave her booby prize life behind and go for what she really wants. These choices made from fear are always the wrong choices, because they leave you feeling less than and always support your limiting beliefs, therefore keeping them fixed in place. You stay stuck in a predictable, unfulfilling life full of excuses and rationalizations to why you can’t have what you really want. The emptiness never goes away and the only way to rationalize it all in, is to resign to it. In this instance, fear can be very motivating. If you get to the root or the deeper fear, of not getting what you want for example, my friend can make the choice out of fear of staying in a predictable life, to take the risk and go for what she really wants. Part of my job as a coach, is to support my clients in seeing fear in a different way and using it as a positive emotion and one that holds much of their power to get what they do want. Not being in the game out of fear of failure is really automatically failing, because you can never win or lose the game. Would you rather have something you can potentially lose or have nothing at all?
So, the answer is NO. Making choices out of fear is not always the wrong choice, but it’s not the best choice. Fear is a healthy emotion and it’s gotten a bad rap. If we trust and have faith that we’ll get through life even after falling down, then we’re more likely to get up and keep going. If we can distinguish what the fear wants to tell us, then we can process it quickly and do what’s in our best interest. To find the right questions to ask yourself in times of fear and indecision, curl up with a quick read that’s brilliant! “The Right Questions” by Debbie Ford.