There’s a lot of talk about fear these days.
You might be tired of hearing so much talk about how our fears are holding us back or hearing something similar to “get over your fears” as the response to a question that doesn’t seem to have very much to do with fear. I know my patience with the focus on fear wears thin pretty quickly.
But take one of the challenges you have and pretend it’s an onion. You don’t have to go too many layers deep before you hit some type of fear that’s keeping you from moving forward. Maybe it’s the fear of failing. Or being rejected. Or being successful. Or wasting your time. Or it being the wrong thing.
Under that layer of fear are all sorts of ways in which our histories, personalities, values, and quirks diverge. Above that layer of fear are all of the disparate ways in which we’ve tangled ourselves up in knots.
That’s why I say fear is the highest common denominator. We have lower common denominators, but we have to dive deep into the levels of communication to be able to share them.
You probably won’t be able to unite a random group of people based upon their positive aspirations and values, but you can quickly unite them by their fears. Demagogues, mob leaders, and tyrants know this and exploit it. Marketers exploit fear, too, which is why many people shy away from marketing.
We can use the connective power of fear for good, though. Much of Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability shows how being transparent about our fears enriches the relationships we have and enables us to dare greatly. Leaders can address the fears in the room so that they can help their teams fire through the tears.
And by being brave enough to NOT pretend that we aren’t afraid, you and I can connect with each other that much more deeply, rather than fighting our own private little demons in our own private little worlds in front of each other. We can also shine a light on the boogeyman under the bed of our work and thus drain its strength when we accept that the fear is there but it’s not a sign that anything’s wrong. It’s just a sign that we’re human.
Fear is the highest common denominator. How will you use it to connect with someone or fuel your work today?
Fear can be beaten with the help of frankness communication. I think one can’t feel easy if fear is always in his mind. No doubt the first step of any work is difficult but kick fears away to finish it like an expert. Sounds good to find problem and then solution of fear problem 😉
Linda Maye Adams says
One of the other challenges is that fear might not look like fear. I worked with a cowriter years ago, and it really went sour right at the time we had a book out to agents. I didn’t realize it at the time — it’s taken years actually — but he had a huge fear of sending it out. I don’t think even he was aware of it because all he talked about was having the best seller. He tried sabotaging it by saying the story wasn’t perfect, that maybe this word wasn’t marketable, that “something” was wrong with the first chapter, and then by attacking me.
I’ve run into again with another writer, who stated to me he was not afraid of anything; yet, he is actually continually sabotaging himself. And he cannot see the fear.
I think we imagine fear as like experiencing a horror movie, not as quietly sabotaging ourselves, getting stuck, or not progressing.
Charlie Gilkey says
This is a wonderful comment, Linda. I’m not sure if it’s that it doesn’t look like fear or whether we just don’t acknowledge it as such, but the work is the same.
In many ways, that’s why I’m doing the Month of No Hiding — I recognized how guerrilla the fear had gone and masked itself as “legitimate” concerns. It didn’t show up like a horror movie because it knew I’d confront; instead, it hijacked the Strategist and the Wanderer within me to do its work for it.
Great article, and I completely agree with you. I firmly believe that the thing that holds us back from reaching our highest potential is fear. It stems from so many things too. Unless we are willing to journey through self-discovery and dig deep into who we are, we will not be able to overcome the fear within us. You can’t fix what you don’t understand, and even when we understand something from a purely logical sense, we still have to feel it and specifically how it applies to our psyche. Plus, I think the closer we get to loving our-self, flaws and all, the closer we get to losing the fears that bind us.
I would like your input on something. I am such a procrastinator. I am able to make specific goals, both large and small, but when it comes to accomplishing them (making plans to commit to day by day) I get stuck. I also have bipolar disorder, so when a depressive episode hits, it feels like I’m trying to walk through sludge in my mind straining to focus on tasks most days. Motivation goes right out the door. Any advice for pushing through? I’m not sure if you’ve ever dealt with this type of question before. I refuse to let my disorder take away my dreams. While I do take medication to help, I need to find other ways to use as a pick me up on the days I need it. I try reading motivational/inspirational quotes (which I love) or my Bible to help already. Any advice is truly appreciated. Thank you. Blessings!
Charlie Gilkey says
Hi Mandy! Thanks for leaving a comment.
Procrastination is a symptom, not a cause. So I’d ask you to look under the tasks and see what fear, discomfort, confusion, or resistance is there. Once you know that, you can work at that level and figure out what the positive pull of the project is. As I often say, we don’t need a productivity system or trick to eat ice cream or pie. I imagine this is harder when a depressive episode hits, though, because of how pervasive and consuming depression can be. Here are a few resources to check out:
I hope these help. 🙂