Why Are We Afraid?
We have constructed a society where popularity is foundational and there is a strong focus on social status, reputation and being liked by as many people as possible.
Being socially conditioned to success at all costs is part of the rat race, which we inherited and continue to feed with our choices to win at everything. Infused in it is a social fear of what people think of us: do we drive the right car? do we make enough money? do we have the best job? did we make it big and are socially important?
These are the pursuits and questions that are programmed into many of us as we learn to be afraid. All of this is always accompanied by a need of maintaining the success with an underlying constant fear of losing it. Who wants to be a loser? Losers don’t have influence or significance in our current world; no one is proud of the losers.
And being afraid and fearful has trained us to play “what if” scenarios that keep us stuck. Most of what we worry about rarely happens but we can get so caught up in the race and the pursuit that it’s hard to focus on anything else.
But in the current reality, this definition of success is starting to fall apart for people who are choosing to have a healthy relationship with fear. When we choose not to fear losing a job, for example, we no longer see a need to claw our way to the top.
For some women, there is no longer a desire to break a glass ceiling at organizations that don’t support us. And we are witnessing many women living fulfilling lives running their own business or creating a healthier work environment.
My favorite childhood author Judy Blume writes,”Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
No Longer Afraid
Each of us is different as are our situations. We have an opportunity to decide for ourselves and that itself is scary for many people who need to know what we should do.
Owning the source of our fear is a skill we can build to navigate these times of transition. When feeling anxious or fearful, can you go to the root and source of when it was seeded? For me, I was brought up with constant planning and needing to having things to look forward to. Everything was always planned and predictability was valued.
A few years ago, I unraveled this conditioning and saw where the fear of being spontaneous or not knowing what’s next came from so I could address it. And today, I have no idea where I will be this May and yet, I know there is nothing to fear.
This May will be a year since I started my new journey and it will continue to be a daring adventure of exploration. If I learned one life changing lesson, it’s that there is no reason to be afraid of the unknown.
Is this the time to think about what you want and to go for it? If something is holding you back, can you get to the source? One of my favorite philosophers, Plato, reminds us that “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
The process of becoming increasingly aware of the fact that there is another way to life—that you don’t need to stay trapped—causes immense shifts. Our thoughts of fear or joy impact the way our body and mind function. Releasing the weight of negative thinking and emotion helps us become lighter and more open to creation, but it takes practice and work.