A Message of Love from Fear

When I realized that I could direct fear like when using the right tool for the right job, I found myself in the Aha Zone. What now? How might I use fear to motivate me when love is what I want to feel all the time? I wonder, could fear be a message of love?

What If Fear Has a Message of Love?

An intention may seem the most difficult to achieve when fear is involved. Yet, what if the fear moves my intention towards completion?

My internal dialog about fear tends to act as a justifier of my perception of danger. When I accept this message as a stronger influence than reason or love, I become my greatest deterrent to success.

What might happen when I ask, “Where is this inner dialog taking me?” This would question my dialog in relation to the motivation. And strengthen my need to fulfill my intention. Until I understand fear as an emotion and motivator, I’ll have a misunderstanding that justifies my inner dialog about it.

I might ask myself, “who am I as a result of this inner dialog?” Now that is useful information!

I tend to feel fear when I perceive that I or someone I care about is in danger. One must care to feel fear. That’s a message of love!

Far from seeking to escape or avoid it, what if I embrace my fear as the symbol of love that it is? Fear helps me focus on what’s important, motivating me to act in order to express love.

What and How Questions Elicit Awareness of Love

The way you go about getting a need filled may be inspired by fear. Yet, feelings and the actions taken to satisfy those feelings are separate processes. That would include thoughts of what you need and how to get it.

When I ask myself a “What…?” question, I’m eliciting a response from an aspect of me that comprehends in symbols. Symbols bridge the relationship between material objects and abstract thought. This is how physical appearance connects to nonphysical meaning.

Unconscious use of fear includes justifying having to obey fear as a master. Using fear consciously includes questioning a need and its fulfillment in order to elicit awareness of its expression of love.

Overcoming Fear vs Embracing Fear

Let’s say you need something, yet, you’re afraid to go after it – like a raise at work. You feel fear along with the frustration of not getting a need met. You know fear will continue until you have achieved your goal. You choose to go for it anyway when the need for the goal exceeds the need to remain safe. Once the need has been fulfilled, you feel successful.

You’ve used the motivation derived from your fear as a tool to overcome the fear. At least that’s how it appears. And, as we’ve often seen in the Aha Zone, appearances can be deceiving. Instead of overcoming your fear, maybe you’ve acknowledged it as a tool to boost your ability to reach that goal. And in embracing your fear, maybe expressed your love for self and others.

“Why Am I Afraid?”

Because I care! And that is an expression of love!

Fear as Motivation for Consciously Directed Purpose

In my bubble of limited awareness, I’ve defined fear as an unfulfillable need to resist change. That because I add my interpretation of what I think fear should mean. Which is, a negative or unpleasant emotion I associate with what I don’t want. Fear is a feeling that motivates me to act on it. How I act on that feeling is what I interpret as fear – two separate things. Motivation is NOT the action in a consciously directed purpose.

Beyond that limited awareness I can interpret fear as one of many emotions that motivate me towards fulfillment. Since emotions drive my thoughts into action, I can choose to use them productively. Thus, a simple shift in my perspective of fear and can move towards change in powerful and meaningful ways.

When I think of fear as an emotion I can then choose to use it to serve my purposes. I can more easily meet change with confidence. As I let go of my need to resist change, I bring clarity to its benefits. I see change and fear as one and consider its uses as a conscious tool.

Motivation in Conscious Purpose

The body program associates fear from an instinctual perspective of fight, flight, or freeze – each an action. Even when I’m frozen in fear, there’s a strong sense of, “I’ve got to get out of here!” This results in a rush of chemicals I interpret as a feeling of exhilaration – a need for movement. That’s the chemistry of motivation. The question becomes, what do I do with this motivation?

The motivation to flee, fight, or freeze is an expression of feedback to my mind about my perceptions. That’s useful information towards an understanding of self. One such understanding is that of emotion as motivator.

As an emotion, fear bridges thought to action – motivation. What are some ways I can utilize this bridging characteristic of fear to apply conscious purpose to my intentions? Consider:

  • What if that bridge could motivate me to consider other ways to act?
  • Could fear be an agent of change I need for growth towards understanding?
  • Might fear be useful in accomplishing intentions?

I get to choose what to do with the energy of fear. I might go with the default – fight, flight, or freeze. Or, I may choose to direct that energy towards my conscious intentions – purpose!

Who’s Driving this Bus Anyway?

All emotion can be understood as motivation towards action. Key to this understanding is recognition that it’s NOT emotions that drive the directing aspect of thought.

Although fear may be the loudest voice at the table, it is not the only voice. Imagine a board of directors meeting in which the CEO presides. Mr. Fear says, “OMG! We’re going under fast! We have to do something drastic NOW to save the company!” Meanwhile, the other members of the board cannot compete with Mr. Fear’s passion, intensity, and volume level. If the CEO listens only to the loudest voice, what do you think will happen to the company?

The authority we give to fear is our belief that is is powerful enough to make us do what it wants, rather than what we want. However, passion, intensity, and volume are not direction! They are the fuel of motivation.

Fear provides motivation for change, and although it appears to be dictating my actions and thoughts, it does not. In reality, I do the directing. Like my car, the fuel does not provide the direction for the vehicle – the driver does.

Motivation, Considering Fear as a Tool

Fear may have gotten a bad rap in my limited awareness bubble. Consider how I’ve blamed fear for most experiences I’ve deemed negative. Perhaps perception of fear says more about what it represents about me than what it actually is.

Consider that fear is an emotion, and like other emotions, motivates thoughts into action. Fear doesn’t tell me specifically what and how to do things. Rather, the direction thought “chooses” to follow may be strictly determined by set programs. Fear simply serves to move the process along. Could I be using that motivation to validate my interpretations?

Like fire, when fear is recognized as a tool rather than a controller, its use could reveal a significant benefit. At some point in humanity’s distant past somebody realized they could control fire and, so turn a threat into a benefit. At that moment, my ancestors made a significant change to their fear equations regarding fire. They may have changed their entire world when they added fire to their tool set.

Fear as Motivation

Fear can drive personal change. Somebody moved fire from the realm of unconscious fear response to conscious respect for its power. On that day, humans realized they could turn their fear into a tool for conscious use.

Fear can be exhilarating. It can be funny, sublime, even entertaining. We use fear to moderate behavior for social purposes. Common fear can drive action towards solving vexing social problems like racism and political corruption.

Fear has its role in survival – perhaps the primary experience in life’s drama. Yet, fear doesn’t dictate how I should live, my interpretation does. Quality of life is up to the interpretations of the one living it.

Fear as Tool

When used as a conscious tool, fear can energize intention through emotion and interpretations of intention with powerful focus. That can then push me to overcome seemingly impossible odds.

“While fear can lead to less than ideal or optimal results in performance, it can also help propel athletes into some of their best performances.” (Cristerna 2014)

As desire represents an “attractive” force, fear represents a “repulsive” force of motivation. One might increase the probability of success by using both forces together to achieve a goal.

Maybe fear is another expression of love that can be used like other emotions as a tool to achieve an intended goal.
Perhaps fear, like fire, makes a dangerous, though useful, servant and a dreadful master.

Resources:
How Fear Can Help You Win, Learn to use Fear to your Advantage in Taekwondo, by Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHT, (Special Submission to USA Taekwondo).

Fear and the Choice-Defense Algorithm

Consider how fear validates lack at the physical level by motivating the fulfillment of physical needs. That physical sense of fear influences choice-making by effectively removing options. Fewer options means more time available for fulfilling needs. That’s critical in life-or-death choices where use of time makes that choice.

From an instinctual perspective, choice may be entirely based on compliance to symbolic representations and pattern recognition. Thus, my choices defend my certainty of the reality of my symbolic representations.

Fear is the driving force of compliance – an intense, unquestionable obedience that motivates all need fulfillment.

If the instinctive world had a motto, it would be, “Do what you know!” Perhaps conscious choice threatens that knowing by questioning the certainty of the motto.

Because of the primal nature of instinct, questioning the motto will initiate defense. Fear represents preemptive defense of the motto, preventing me from even asking by returning my consciousness to the instinctive state.

Questioning is only half the equation – consideration is the other.

The Choice-Defense Algorithm

The choice-defense algorithm is a filtering process. Perception of an option’s value and immediacy affects the algorithm. For example, a high-stakes option will eliminate all lower-stakes options from the competition. My investment in fear artificially elevates an option’s value to higher-stakes. Repeated use of a certain fear in choice-making results in a bias in its favor. Thus, raising the stakes on certain options as they appear.

When I feel I have time to consider many options, I’ll filter them through a value-based mental/emotional consideration sieve. This filtering process is steeped in instinct. I already have a bias and preconception of the outcome of the process. In other words, it’s not a choice, it’s a defense algorithm!

The algorithm takes into account each option’s relative characteristics – based on a knowing. Like choosing between chocolate or vanilla ice cream – I’ll select the option I already believe is best – a bias. This because we select through symbolism. For example, I compare vanilla to chocolate in symbols I perceive as color, taste, temperature, etc. I then defend my “choice” with an explanation or reason for why it is better or best.

It’s an unfair comparison process because I’ve added biased value to MY selection compared to others. Competition and defense – the cardinal characteristics of my bubble of limited awareness.

Fear adds preemptive defense value to the already biased choice-defense algorithm, returning choices to the realm of instinct.

The Doubt-Certitude Paradox

In my bubble of limited awareness, life’s ambiguities raise doubts about the certainty of my choices. Those doubts tend to increase as my awareness of ambiguity grows. Doubt can be a benefit and a threat – depending on the context.

Choosing based on fear validates fear as a certainty. In order to feel safe I must believe I’ve made the right choice. This, in turn, solidifies my devotion to my certainty.

Fear resolves a paradox by feeling certitude in doubt, rather than doubt in my certitude. The paradox arises when I must be certain and yet I must have doubt. For example, in life, certitude convinces me the experience is real. Meanwhile, doubt makes life appear to change in unexpected ways. I doubt and I’m certain.

Doubt and Certitude

Doubt offers me the kind of options that challenge my comfort zone choices intended to result in safe outcomes. My instinctive choices would probably have caused me to seek escape from threat, which could’ve been disastrous! Instinct isn’t always reliable for safety.

Where life most threatens my comfort zone, paradox is there to confront my safety defense. However, the slower and straighter the ride, the more boring it feels in contrast. I need enough contrast between doubt and certitude to perceive change.

The greater the contrast, the greater the opportunity for awareness of the paradox. In my perceptual world, I’m more likely to choose from well-established options, those I rely on. That certitude creates a comfort zone of trusted options I don’t doubt.

Thus, I deliberately limit options to those that validate my comfort zone. And resist those that might throw doubt on my comfort zone.

The paradox remains until a choice appears to resolve it. Once I settle on the results of a choice, I resolve the paradox by defending it. Thus, by making a choice, I confirm the paradox by defending it.

That is a paradox!