Surely this works. My mother had a massive heart attack when I was 19 years old. Fear with a capital-F. For years after this, while my mom courageously changed her lifestyle, I became more and more fearful of death. I was 19. Healthy. Fearful of death. Did this motivate me? Yes, my goodness yes. I found new types of exercise I enjoyed, changed the way I ate, discovered clean eating and a love of cooking healthy food. I started reading on health and heart disease, and getting check-ups annually. I un-discovered muffins and my essay-writing staple of tortilla chips and diet cola. Fear motivated me to get healthy. Reminded myself daily that if I ate that muffin, I might have a heart attack. FEAR.
I entered graduate school and my stress increased. Money became a major stress for me for the first time in my life. Looking for a job, moving to Ottawa, looking for an apartment - more stress and more fear of messing it all up. Buying a house, breaking up with a boyfriend.....But this time, fear didn't make me better or stronger or smarter or motivated to do something - fear was Ex.Haust.Ing. Fear of not succeeding, of failure, of looking bad to my parents, of disappointing people and myself. This time, fear did not motivate. I found myself sometimes unable to get out of bed. And when I did, and when I'd see others succeeding where I was fearful of taking action, I became sad and angry at myself. I started trying to scare myself into action.
My biggest fear became the one thing I should have been motivated to see succeed - myself! My own inner self scared me into a pattern of ducking and hiding. Avoiding people for fear of showing them the 'real' me, the fearful me. The one who would say things to my own self, to motivate my own self through fear and threat. "Oh, Jen, you made a mistake at work. How embarassing," I'd tell myself repeatedly, "You are going to fail and everyone will laugh at you and you'll never get a career and you'll be alone forever because you are a failure and people will see that." Fearing your own voice in your own head.
Ever fear yourself? Not a great motivator - or should I say, it's a great de-motivator. Was I motivated to succeed? No way. Was I motivated to get up and go for a jog? Not a chance. I was fearful. But there was no pay-off. Nothing to aim for - just fear.
I'm talking about that inside fear that you use to make yourself NOT do something. To de-motivate yourself. That voice that says "I'm afraid of being a failure at lifting weights, so I won't go to the gym. I'm afraid of sounding stupid so I won't ask the nutritionist or my family doctor for advice on weight loss/headaches/insomnia. I'm afraid of asking my boss for a day off because she'll be disappointed in me. I'm afraid to wear that pink dress that I love because people will look at me and that scares me." That inner fear that makes you not want to make a change, not want to address an issue and how you feel in that issue. The fear that makes you want to duck and hide.
When do we stop being fearful? Only when we face head-on the fear, the self that is feeding that fear. And we just decide to stop it.
Fear is a funny thing. It's said that fear motivates. It also allows us to duck and hide from our lives, from our beliefs, our families, our favourite pink dresses and favourite silly ties.
Not sure about you, I think I'm going to stop scaring myself and just let myself to be. Knowing how great things are when I stop allowing myself to be fearful, I'm motivated to do all kinds of awesome.
You are too.