Is it fear that motivates us?

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” What does it mean to be scared? Fear is often the unpleasant emotion we feel when we are put in a threatening situation. Whether on a large or small scale, fear can often outsmart your brain. However, how can we use this to tackle our biggest challenges? Although fear can have negative effects, it is also a major source of motivation that is capable of pushing us out of our comfort zone.

Now, try not to get confused when I say to use fear as a tool to accomplish something. I do not mean that those who are afraid of fire should jump into a fire. Instead, I am talking about using our fears that often limit us from experiencing something great. There are a lot of things that motivate us, but the most powerful one is probably fear. Our most vivid memories are often those resulting from fear, so imagine how memorable overcoming them would be. Many people experience a variety of fears, but I am going to zoom in on one in particular: the fear of failure.

The fear of failure holds us back. Whether it stems from a lack of confidence or self-esteem, the thought of failing is often something preventing us from trying in the first place.  Many of us set a standard for ourselves. Some are presented with an opportunity and immediately decide whether or not they are capable of achieving it. However, how do you know if you never try? In addition to setting our own standards, society can often set it for us. We may look at the people around us and decide where we stand among the rest. Perfectionism can also come into play. Some of us are only willing to try the things that we know we can be successful in. However, how did you become a master of that task in the first place? You tried something new! We can never know how great we can be unless we push ourselves past what we know we can do.

So, how can we integrate our fears with tackling our biggest challenges? Fear can be a motivating tool. For example, I am one who has a fear of failing. When I went on a retreat with my team, we participated in a ropes course that would push us past our limits. I took one look at the height and the structure and told myself it was not going to happen. However, what pushed me to participate was my fear of failure. I am one of the oldest members of my team, and a lot of the younger kids look towards my actions. I did not want to let them down. Every single team member present completed the obstacle, and I did not want to be the one person who did not. The fear of failing and letting people down pushed me past my comfort zone, and it allowed me to achieve something that I did not think was possible.

Not only do I now know more of what I am capable of, but I also know that it is fine to fail sometimes. However, the greatest skill I pulled from that experience was enhancing my mindset. I encourage you to not set limitations for yourself. There is going to be discomfort all throughout our lives, but it is by allowing our fears to motivate us that we can obtain the vision of our success. Take the fears that are etched into your brain, and use them to your advantage. It is entirely up to you to decide how you will look at a challenge and face it.