Ever since writing “The Power of Now” last Monday, the concept of being fully present and in the moment has been at the forefront of my mind. Thinking about living in the “now”, about the power of this very moment, led me to realize something big…something really big; something I wasn’t prepared for…
I realized how many decisions I make out of fear. Fear? Yes, fear! Now I’m not talking about everyday fears…I’m talking about fear in disguise. Fear that doesn’t really look like fear on the outside. Fear that on the surface looks like apathy, procrastination, restlessness…or motivation, organization and goal-setting.
How can this be? How can fear look like something positive (motivation, organization, goal-setting) yet still be negative? Let me explain…
The action of motivation, organization or goal-setting is not in itself negative. However, it can become negative if the intent behind the action is driven by fear. If we are motivated to take action because we don’t want to suffer a negative consequence, or because we’re concerned about what someone else will think about us or because we want to influence another person’s actions, the intent behind the action is based on fear. Here’s an example of the difference between positive and negative intent behind an action:
I pay my taxes because I don’t want to get into trouble or be charged with a late fee.
The first sentence shows the intent behind the action is positive, i.e., the way I want to live my life. The second sentence, however, demonstrates that the intent behind the same action is driven by fear, i.e., wanting to avoid a negative consequence.
While this may seem like semantics to some, and utterly simplistic and obvious to another, it’s neither of those things to those of us whose unconscious minds are ingrained with fear! There are so many ways that fear can seep into our minds and affect both our conscious and unconscious decisions.
I’m actually quite amused at the fact that I thought I was pretty aware of fear and it’s power, especially since I’ve been researching and writing my next book, “Creating Without Fear” for the past year! I have definitely learned about the benefits of fear…it is a necessary emotion in our lives which deters us from danger and serves as an internal warning signa. And it can be a huge source of energy as well as a strong and powerful motivating force. However, when fear is a constant, unconscious companion in our lives, it can not only shape the intent behind our actions, it can also prevent us from truly living our lives.
When this occurs, we usually suffer in one way or another, i.e., addiction, phobias, etc. which in turn prevents us from living our best lives. How ironic that the emotion which can prevent us from suffering (i.e., warn us of danger) can also cause us to suffer!!!
What I personally found really interesting was when I made a list of things that I would consider to be positive and negative traits about myself. While I could clearly see the fear factor behind my negative traits, I was utterly surprised and amazed to realize that many of my positive qualities have also been developed and fine-tuned by fear!!! Here are my two lists:
On the positive side, I have always been the type of person who:
…is really good in an emergency
…loves to problem-solve
…works best on deadlines
…can juggle many projects at one time
…can think on her feet.
On the other hand, I tend to:
…feel restless and/or bored easily
…get myself overwhelmed
…be a perfectionist
…worry about what others think of me
…not take good care of myself, i.e., eat well, get enough rest, etc.
Talk about a monumental light-bulb moment!!! This simple realization paralyzed me…and I mean utterly paralyzed me for awhile. I saw, for the first time, just how deep fear is embedded in my mind.
I felt a sudden rush of questions…so many questions…BIG questions, like:
If I change the intent behind my actions, will I still be good at those things?
Who would I be if I am not a person driven by fear?
What would I base my decisions on?
Would I still be able to create?
How am I going to change the intent behind my actions when there’s so many actions I take every single day???
Can you imagine how overwhelming this was to digest?
I quickly realized that I had to just sit with all of these questions. And sit with the fact that I did not have, or know, the answers!!! I wondered how in the heck I was going to make such a huge paradigm shift? How would I be able to go from…
Exercising because I want to be as healthy as I can be
Being punctual because I want to live a low-stress life
Coming to terms with all this meant that I had to realize that if I want to change the intent behind my actions/decisions, I will have to redefine myself…redefine who I am and become clear about the reasons I do the things that I do.
After a few thought-provoking hours, I came to the conclusion that like so many other challenges set before me, I would just have to take this journey one step (or one decision!) at a time. Which means that my new mantra will come in quite handy, won’t it?
Yes, I believe that I will truly see the value in “the power of now” while on this journey…