Fear: Best Friend or Worst Enemy?

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Fear is a funny thing — it protects us from potential dangers, but also keeps us from seeking things that might actually be good for us. It causes us to avoid things that could be harmful, but also keeps us from the very things that could make us happy. And ironically, as much as a life spent avoiding fearful situations is “safer”, it’s also “emptier” — lacking in excitement, purpose, and meaning.

The truth is that most of us are confused about what we’re actually afraid of. We fear loneliness, but we also fear love. We fear limitations, but we also fear possibility. We fear monotony, but we also fear adventure. We fear predictability, but we also fear uncertainty. We fear being unnoticed, but we also fear being noticed. We fear restrictions, but we also fear freedom. We fear losing oneself, but we also fear being oneself. We fear hopelessness, but we also fear being hopeful for something that might not come.

This is why we keep doing things we don’t want to do. Not because we’re crazy, but because we “want” what’s not always “safe.” We want to trust others, but it’s not always ‘safer’ to. We want to try, but it’s ‘safer’ not to if we aren’t guaranteed results. We want to believe that we are capable, but it’s ‘safer’ to convince ourselves that we aren’t. We want to make things happen, but it’s ‘safer’ to make excuses for why it can’t.

In a strange way, we’re afraid of what we want.

WE MUST MAKE A DECISION.

When this happens, we must must choose which route to take: the less fulfilling route that guarantees safety, or the one that involves risk yet also the possibility of having what we want. Both options come with their own set of costs and benefits — it’s up to us to decide which one is worth more of the risk.

One thing I’ve learned is that PURPOSE is crucial for conquering fears. If we have no purpose or sense of direction in our lives, fear starts to become our main motivator; that is to say, we make decisions based on which option involves less risk. Our movements are not directed towards getting anywhere, but are based on avoiding our fears.

It’s the difference between someone playing tag and someone running a marathon. Both people are technically “moving”, but one is simply fleeing rather than getting anywhere in particular, while the other’s movements are directed towards reaching the finish line.

In the same way, when we have purpose or direction, we are more likely to face our fears because we realize that the benefits are worth more than the costs. Purpose gives an incentive TO face our fears, because we realize they are just challenges lying on the path to our ultimate destination.

So there it is. Find your purpose. It might just be the very thing that enables you to conquer your fears rather than be enslaved by them.

1 John 4:18 

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