Switching From Fear to Joy as the Energy Source in Your Life
Sep 22, 2020
What role does fear play in your life? This may not be a question that you ask yourself very often. But it’s especially worth asking if you’re someone with a calling to make the world a better place.
Is fear an energy source for you in ways you may not even realize?
If you are using your fight or flight mechanism to power your actions on a daily basis, you are using fear as an energy source. And there’s no surprise in that, or shame. It’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s the way we are all wired thanks to tens of thousands of years of evolutionary biology. But fear as an energy source has a lots of drawbacks.
This video and the accompanying worksheet walks you through some of the ways that fear can show up for you as a source of energy for taking action. How many of these do you recognize in yourself?
- Striving to win others approval
- Seeking refuge in achievement, competence and mastery
- Locking down in a rigid routine—the fragile thread that holds it all together
- Imposter syndrome—pushing forward out of fear that if I ever stop running I’ll be exposed
- Outworking everyone else to make up for all that I lack
- Staying distant from others because deeper relationships are a time suck I can’t afford
- Needing to compete, take action, dominate before someone else beats me to the prize
- Driving myself harder when I feel the twinge of jealousy at others’ success
- Pervasive nervous energy, feeling uneasy or anxious whenever I deliberately try to slow down
- Harsh self talk that reinforces all of the above
Maybe you get the idea by now, but using fear as your power source is also exhausting. There is a flip side to many of these fear based motivators to action that can also discourage you from action, can also lead you into depression. And so when you use fear as your energy source you are also likely deeply invested in avoidance, in comforting yourself, in escaping from the sense of pressure that fear based action induces. This is why you can feel so exhausted when you get to the end of the day.
So what are comforting mechanisms that you use to keep yourself going when you are using fear to power your daily actions? How many of these, or other coping strategies do you recognize in yourself?
- Can’t wait to veg out with TV or videos at night
- Jonesing for that glass or two or three to unwind at day’s end
- Eating for aimlessly, or for comfort & feeling bad about it after
- Staying up way too late reading myself to sleep
- Having messy spaces and places in my life that I keep feeling like I should clean up, but somehow I never get around to it
- Sleepless nights with my mind running endless loops
- Anger and irritability with my family or my team
- Struggling to be fully present with my loved ones
- Aversion to planning and getting real about closing the gap between my vision and where I actually am right now
- Always feeling like I’m a day late and a dollar short across the key areas of my life, personally and professionally
- Struggling to name much of anything in my life that truly brings me joy
The good news is that there is a better way to get the energy you need to deliver on your calling to make the world a better place--and that is to switch from fear to joy your energy source.
So how do you do this? The path forward is not to ask yourself to give up fear, or all the coping behaviors it produces. Instead, simply add a small behavior that gives you positive reinforcement and commit to try it out every day for a week. If you miss a day, don’t get down on yourself, just start your streak again the next day. The idea is that over time, through experimentation, kindness and patience with yourself, you gradually build up a suite of mutually reinforcing beneficial behaviors across the six dimensions of joyful impact:
- Positive Presence
- Persistence & Courage
It is this foundation of daily, weekly and monthly routines that fuels your powerplant with joy, rather than fear.
For more on how to build up your daily routines as a source of sustainable, joyful energy, check out Chapter Six of my book in progress--available here as a download.