We often make important decisions to prepare for worst-case scenarios or avoid the things we do not want. While considering all sides of the decisions we make is vital to critical thinking, does preparing for the worst prepare us for success or hold us back? Are we letting our worries talk us out of the things that we really want? Do we find that we know more about what we want to avoid than what we want to gain? We can start to make our decisions based upon love rather than fear.
What is the Purpose of Fear?
Fear is not entirely useless, nor does fear always need to be disregarded. Fear helps us survive and prepare for emergencies in the future. Many of us make daily decisions based on rational fear. For example, safety considerations, like wearing a seatbelt or helmet, reduce our risk of injury if we get into an accident. Being prepared is rational; however, when fear makes us avoid things entirely, fear might be controlling our lives more than we would like.
Fear is a critical aspect of planning goals and making changes. We anticipate “what if?” scenarios and prepare for them. Consider packing for an overnight hiking trip. Most people bring items that they hope they will not need, like an emergency blanket or a tube tent to build a shelter if they get lost.
Those planning the trip are being prepared, not irrational. However, by including these items in a pack, trekkers prepare for reasonable worst-case scenarios that might occur, though they are unlikely. If we imagined these scenarios and then decided not to go on our trip, then we might be letting fear control our decisions rather than using fear to prepare.
What if it Doesn’t Work Out?
Most often, fear presents itself when making decisions that require us to take a chance on something that we want. Perhaps we are applying for a promotion in our company or forming a new relationship. We might stop before taking action and ask, “what if this doesn’t work out?” We start to fear rejection and disappointment, allowing the avoidance of these feelings to drive our decision-making.
Putting ourselves out there is difficult! When we go after what we want, we need to face many vulnerable emotions and believe in ourselves. Our inner doubts kick into high gear, and we assume the worst before taking a chance. We anticipate the negative feelings that might result from things not going the way we would like. We talk ourselves out of seeking happiness before even taking the first step!
Have we ever considered the question phrased another way? Fear of failure and fear of success are two sides of the same coin. Maybe we should consider how we will feel if things do work out?
What if it Does Work Out?
We often prepare for and anticipate the worst-case scenario, but how often do we expect the best-case scenario? Do we think about this often enough? When making decisions based on going toward the things that we want, act as if everything will work out and prepare for the best. Then, we will be making decisions based on what we want to happen rather than what we want to avoid.
Going after the things that we love rather than deciding the lesser of our greatest fears is far more motivating and uplifting. When we follow our hearts, we generally feel better about our decisions. We are moving forward with confidence. Following our hearts takes courage, as we cannot mask our vulnerabilities. We are entirely exposed-—the world will know what we truly want.
Considering Our Legacy
During an episode of the “Which Way” podcast, author Gerry Murphy asks us to think about our legacy when making decisions. During the episode, “And You May Find Yourself: A Guided Practice to Never Fearing Death Again,” Gerry Murphy shares his insight from facing the possibility of death in his life. He encourages listeners to consider their legacy when making decisions. What will the highlights of our obituary say when we pass? Will our loved ones remember us for things that we secretly detested or that made us unhappy?
By making our decisions based on love, we are true to ourselves, and our pursuits will harmonize with our authentic selves.
Failing at What You Love
What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want others to remember you?
Even if things do not work out exactly as planned, isn’t it better to spend time failing at what you love than succeeding at what you hate?
We often make our decisions based on fear. We avoid the potential of the worst-case scenario. Avoiding any feelings of discomfort becomes our primary motivator when making decisions in life. While fear can help prepare us for our goals, rarely does it motivate us to move toward the things we want in our lives. When we frequently ask ourselves, “what if this doesn’t work out?” we might be creating reasons not to do the things we would love to pursue. Instead, start asking yourself, “what if this does work out?” Imagine the best-case scenario when making decisions. Often, the worst-case scenario is never as bad as we believe. But, most often, the best-case scenario is far more rewarding and fulfilling than we can anticipate! If you are alumni of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center, we invite you to share your story with others. You might inspire others to ignite the passions in their hearts! Call us today to reconnect at (303) 443-3343.