Afterward I got asked, 'Isn't fear is a 'good thing'? Don't we need fear to motivate ourselves?
Kirstey Ally's fear of being seen in a bikini in public didn't keep her on a diet, (she announced on Oprah she'd lose weight and then come back in her bikini the next show). I don't dispute that if enough fear is applied to us we can be forced to do things that we don't want to do. We can be forced at gunpoint to rob a bank, for example. But, what kind of life would that add up to, and by the same token, have you noticed that the effects wear off really quickly? (yeah, Kirsty did too). A sense of total and present danger can't possibly be what keeps us going for 10, 20 or 30 years? And if it does, wow. Knowing what we know about fear and stress... the health impact alone is mind-boggling, not to mention the potential for increased addiction and just living in the misery of scaring ourselves to death in this way.
The fact is, when we want to do something we don't need fear as a tool to be able to do it. Really.
You don't need fear of how people will see you, to get healthy and want to look good.
You don't need to use your fear of losing everything to get up and go to work each day.
Which coach makes you want to play a better game - the one who makes you love the game no matter how you play, or the one who tortures you by telling you that you will never win if you don't practice?
Of course, the truly sad part is I don't need society or my sports coach to make me afraid because apparently I'm willing to scare myself - all based on the idea that fear motivates. How is it we haven't noticed yet that it doesn't? I notice that no matter how much punishment is applied, people still commit crimes. The 3 strikes rules and the death penalty, don't make people behave.
We 'behave' well and live up to our own expectations when we are feeling well in ourselves. Not when we are afraid. Using fear to become something we hope to be is like powering down the mainframe and hoping all the programs will still run properly.
The internal compass of a healthily functioning individual doesn't need constant punitive threat to hold its own direction. According to George Pransky in Rennaissaince of Psychology, "People who do not know of the existence, reliability and accessibility of the conscience built into healthy physchological functioning try to substitute memorized values and ethics. These values and ethics, because they are imposed from the outside, need to be reinforced by punishments and rewards."
So basically, we might need to use fear of punishment to motivate ourselves, the more we are living life for someone's approval other than our own. Pransky goes on to assert that our natural conscience is the built-in guidance system meant to direct our lives and it works very well indeed. When I think of conscience as a guidance system and not an adopted set of morals that are based on punishment and reward, I just heave a sigh of relief for us all. And I want to add to this, if we lived by this conscience, and followed that inner compass more often, the world might seem more of a habitat of brothers.
When you think you are alone and surviving by the approval of others, maybe you do need fear just to rule your own behaviors.
When you are satisfied with you, and your life, you need little more than the still small voice inside in order to do the best thing possible for the rest of the whole planet: be genuinely you.
The world needs more people like you.