Don't Make Decisions Based on Fear and Doubt

You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.” ― Michelle Obama

When I was listening to Michelle Obama's audio book Becoming a few months after it came out, there were so many AHA moments where she dropped bits of wisdom. This was one that spoke to me, and I suspect it will resonate with most of humanity.  Yes there are some crazily confident people out there, but most of us have fears and doubts hiding under the surface. 

Fear is definitely a learned response.  We might not have grown up in a safe environment emotionally, or physically, as children.  Life experiences might have created trauma responses that are deeply rooted. Sometimes the life lesson we are taught by our family, community and the media can create a fear response in us. It’s not always easy to identify the cause.

A learned fear response can be hard to vanquish, but it's way easier to identify.  Abuse, rape, attacks - these are overt and socially acceptable reasons to be fearful.  When it is in response to sub-conscious training and societal messages, it's not as overt and concrete. It's also often not recognized as valid.  It can creep up on us subtly and bury itself deep within, an influence running in the background like an unknown computer virus. We experience fear responses without understanding why. 

Growing up there are some common beginnings to our fear response. We are expected to fit in, have friends, be happy, get good grades, be the top of our class, participate successfully in sports, win awards, offer a version of beauty accepted by the public, go to university, be a certain body weight, have six pack abs, get a good job, have money in the bank, take fancy vacations, own a condo or home, get mani-pedis, have a big circle of friends and the biggest - be liked.  We are taught if we are really good, successful people, we will be liked.  The unspoken side note is - by everyone. 

Oh boy. That list is intimidating just to read. While I didn't feel the pressure to succeed at all of them, the number I did feel I had to accomplish was high.  Add in I was of the generation told as a woman I was also responsible for everyone around me. If I was doing it right, everyone would be happy and I would be loved. Life would be good. Talk about pressure. 

There is no
way to make decisions without fear if you are worried about failure. There is no way to make decisions without fear if you're not feeling good enough about your abilities or think you are incapable of getting it right. The beginning of change comes with starting a list.  Write down every lesson you were taught, or are still being taught, about what success means. What expectations have been loaded onto your shoulders by others?  What burdens do you carry when it comes to keeping others happy and supportive? This exercise can be eye opening.

Then there are the what-if's that paralyze us. What-if's keep us frozen in an unending loop of indecision, unable to move forward or back.  Making a choice can't happen if you are totally focused on anything and everything that MIGHT go wrong. Guess what? If you focus 100 percent on the things that can go wrong you will probably draw them to you.  Start to develop trust. Allow yourself to know that if your heart urges you to move forward, whether it works out of not, it's guided. Trusting your instincts may not always be fun or lead to magic, but following it will lead you to where you are meant to arrive.

Next comes letting go.  Life is a journey with ups and downs, starts and stops, failures and successes.  Times where things don't work are teaching moments that help us grow. They ARE NOT failures. They are normal. In a way they are successes as they are lessons we learned.  Every time one direction doesn't work, you know it's time to head another. You haven't hit a roadblock, you've found another sign showing you which way to go.

There will
be moments where we just plain screw up. Guess what? EVERYONE does. Discover the lessons the experience holds, offer a sincere apology if need be, and then move on. The time for shame and playing the blame game is over. They are useless pursuits and only hold you back from your dreams. Give negative emotions a moment to be experienced, then find a way to wash them right out of your system - a walk, a hot bath, meditation, crying, yelling, talking with a friend - and refocus your energy on all the open doors waiting for you to walk through them.

Try not to allow fear, the worry of failure, and the what if's, to hold court in your life. It may not be possible to totally eradicate them from your being, but it is possible to have a system in place to deal with them when they arise. How we chose to deal with our struggles is something we have total control over.  Choose well.