Please Don’t Feed The Fears

“Dougie, I need a name for a project I want to pursue”

I’d just gotten into the house and I stopped for a moment, very confused and wondering at what point my mother had started entrusting me with important life decisions of her own. It was a slight sense of pride, but more of confusion. No matter how old one gets, being the last born child invalidates your opinions in the presence of older siblings. I knew it would be a matter of minutes before my brother walked in, so I had to take advantage of the moment.

“How’s ‘Imarika’ for a name?”

She immediately beamed; “Hold on I check if it’s available”

One phone call later she confirmed that it had been taken, which was cool because I had a couple back up names. I submitted them to her and went about my business, as she decided to follow up on them the next day.

Upon settling down, I was conflicted; I wanted to be proud at my ability to think quickly on my feet, but at the same time I couldn’t help but realize how indecisive I was. I’d been beating myself up at the fact that I couldn’t find a name for a personal project that I’d been working on, but here I was thinking quickly on my feet when the decisions weren’t mine? “Makes no sense”, I thought.

Except, it did make sense. It made perfect sense.

How many times have fear and agonizing self-doubt impacted our ability to make decisions?

Well, personally I’d ask myself how many times my decision making has been unaffected by fear; that is way easier to count.

Napoleon Hill emphasized the fact that fear and faith cannot co-exist within our minds. It all sounds like motivational talk that you have probably heard of before, and it is true; this was indeed an attempt at motivation on Napoleon’s part, but only as his secondary purpose. The primary goal of that statement was for us to seek understanding of our minds, and also to serve as a precaution. A precaution that if fear is in your mind, then it will affect your ability to achieve goals right from the onset; from the moment you want to write a plan down and from the moment you want to start executing your plan. It might even be inaccurate to state that it will affect your ability to achieve your goals, because sometimes setting goals becomes a long shot.

This is the reason we settle for less than we should. I understand that building a career is not easy and so we should be grateful for wherever our careers take us as long as it enables us to meet our obligations, but I strongly believe that fear plays a major part in us being underutilized in our working spaces, and in other spaces in our professional and social lives. The fear of failure disables us from applying for our desired jobs because we won’t stop comparing ourselves to other seemingly more able people. The fear of criticism makes it hard for us to grow in our work spaces, because for some reason there are people in our office who will find a way to make fun of your ambition. The fear of the unknown enables our procrastination habit. The fear of heartbreak sometimes makes us convince ourselves and our friends that we love being single, that we’re only into ‘no strings attached’ arrangements or that we’re going through a hoe phase; while in reality we would rather be curled up in a couch with our significant others watching ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ for the third time that weekend.

To be in the above spaces in our lives is completely okay; it is not the desired places we would want to be, but it does not make us any worse than people who seemingly have it all together. We are where we are right now because of what has happened to us in our lives, not because we are of lesser ability. Our fear of failure may come from an undesirable experience we experienced earlier in our lives that made us fear it. Our fear of criticism comes from all the authority figures that cared more about stamping their emotionally abusive authority on us than on our self-development.  The fear of heartbreak may be a result of that one person whom earlier in our lives made us believe that if and when we find love, the people in our lives can easily walk away, leaving us to deal with all the hurt.

It would be a long shot to immediately turn our beliefs around and immediately stop being fearful, but how about we cut ourselves some slack and stop feeding the fears? Work on changing our belief systems and refuse to let anyone get to us whenever they taunt our ambition. Assure ourselves that nothing bad can come out of applying for and placing ourselves in the same field as seemingly more qualified people than us. Tackle our fear of heartbreak one day at a time and test ourselves by getting into such spaces, to see how we deal with it. I’m not discouraging the hoe phase, on the contrary it is sometimes a beautiful thing and a great space to be in (More on that in my next post); but if you’re in such a space because you fear heartbreak and would want something more intimate, then take baby steps 🙂 all I’m saying is, let’s decide better for ourselves. Once we decide then we can and will be better placed to take control.

While I’ve been doing a terrible job at not feeding my fears, I’ve placed them on a low carb diet. Now all I’ve got are fears that are less concerned with attacking my belief system and more obsessed with their BMI; fears that are healthier; fears that believe they are more photogenic; fears that…I dragged that one longer than I should have, huh? I’ll be on my way out now.

Point is: like my sense of humor, the management of my fears is a work in progress. Therefore, all the above is all therapy. I hope you figure it out faster than I do, if not as fast. 🙂

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