In the quest many people have for designing their ideal life, I have observed that what usually holds them in place are three main areas of fear. Of course, nothing in our decision making is all one or the other, sometimes there are combinations of fears. In any case, people are generally fearful of: Failure, Success or of Life itself.
Let’s talk about these for a little while today.
Fear of Failure
It is so easy to be afraid. Failure is all around those who expect to fail. They remember tales of friends and family members who have failed; they see stories of failure on television or online stories; they hear about major companies going bankrupt or even their favorite athletes getting cut from a team.
These people are afraid to take a step in any direction. They get stuck in their own “comfort zone,” except the zone is never fully comfortable. They are afraid to make a change and they almost become brittle in their thinking.
The fear of failure is often instilled in us from a very early age. The relative who fails, will tell us that we will fail too. In fact, when we watch someone failing on a television show or read about a failure, we will sometimes cheer for them when they fail!
The problem is that those who try and fail will usually get up and try again because they refuse to stay in place.
Fear of Success
Fear of success isn’t necessarily the “other side of the coin” of the fear of failure. Fear of success may also be instilled in us, but in a different way. Think of a child or young adult who loves to perform or loves to learn. One day the child gets up in front of family members and tries to sing a song, or read a book report.
As soon as she starts, someone tells her to sit down and be quiet (or worse). This repeats itself over and over in the household or schooling. Over time, the child will believe that no matter what she says, it is never good enough; never valid enough or never important enough.
Perhaps he is allowed to get up, starts to read his poem or report, and he is either ignored or told that in comparison to other reports or other students he is not very good. He is asked as to why he can’t be like that other child who is perceived as being more successful. Therefore, no matter how wonderful the child might be, nothing he or she does is ever seen to be successful. The motivation to succeed is “beaten” out of him or her.
Remember that in the life of a standup comic, even the greatest ones there were times when he or she got up to perform and people in the audience were practically throwing rotten eggs at them! They had the courage to keep getting up no matter what anyone said and they succeeded.
Fear of Life
Sometimes people come to me who are so afraid of failing (they’re “brittle”) or so afraid of succeeding (they’re “beaten”), that they are afraid of life itself. This was often helped along in an upbringing where everyone around them was totally wrapped up in themselves, their worries and their sense of self-importance.
Those growing up in such a household could never be seen or heard or appreciated – as though they were invisible or that they were terribly flawed. It is a terribly sad thing.
The Good News
All three fears can be overcome. I won’t pretend it will be easy however, I will say this: You have the right to design your ideal life. You are not locked into sitting on your couch for the rest of your life; you should not stop yourself from shining, and you should understand that there are many people in the world who will appreciate you and encourage you – starting with me!