For many men, fear is either a great motivator or unhealthy reaction to life. Being able to discern which way to go can make a difference.
If you have a pulse, then you know what fear feels like. It can take the form of a dark night where rescue and freedom have no space. Fear grabs a person by the throat and will not let go. It’s an invisible force which causes headaches, heartaches and pain for a man.
Whether it is fear of failing, succeeding, losing someone or something important, getting out of bed, getting into bed, driving, working, creating … you name it, men can develop definite avoidance behaviors around fear.
The “ideal” situation, as many men have told other men for thousands of years in different ways, is to just “suck it up.” Yet if a man doesn’t know how to process his fears and look at them as separate from his own identity, then how will “suck it up” actually work? It doesn’t for most people. Some men might get the message and do that. Most, though, are still wandering out in the fog of life.
Fear. That sucker will kick men in the ass all day long, yet there are ways to counteract it.
Every man has friends. Now the number may be a few to a lot as it all depends on whether a man is an introvert or extrovert. That might be too narrow of a window. But these friends are trusted confidants, ones that a man can frankly and openly speak to about any subject.
Yet today, men’s lives are filled with so much busyness—whether it is real or self-made—that developing a healthy escape from fear-based situations with friends can bring on calamity. One train of thought is that if those friends actually heard a man put voice to his own fears, then they would laugh at him, call him a fool or loser, and look to distance themselves either overtly or covertly.
It can actually be an emotional space that ends up looking like a black hole. There is no end to that fear monster, so it’s going to eat a man up and keep him from living.
This is where fear definitely turns into an unhealthy response to life, from home to the workplace and beyond. A man is waiting for the next shoe to drop and has no safety net upon which to fall.
One popular acronym for fear is “Fuck Everything And Run.” I’ve let that mantra run wild inside myself too many times. Even when times are good and peaceful, that sucker can start playing drums that bring no sanity to life at all.
Turning fear on its head, though, can let it become a powerful motivator. Let’s say that a man was going into a new place of business for the first time. He’s filled with new workplace jitters and uncompromising fears. Somehow, that man has learned the nuance of making fear his friend.
Fear as a friend? That’s impossible, most men say. No, not really. What fear can do is lead someone to taking a hard look at their life, see what is and is not working, and deliberately choose a different path. The fear of failing, instead of being a crippling angst, now turns into jet fuel and provides that extra oomph to change his life.
Getting motivation from fear can be a hell of a great deal. When a man can tap into his own fears, then he’s got a shot at reviving the lost art of self-kindness. Fears don’t necessary dissipate once a man reaches his 20s or 30s. There might be an incredible level of success and prosperity, which are outflows from using fear as motivation. Those old-time fears might take new forms and sound like “I don’t deserve all of this success.” It turns into a Catch-22 situation and the only person left holding the fear bag is that man whose whole being is afraid.
Can a man outgrow his fears? Can he look at them from a healthy perspective and not let them eat him alive? It is definitely possible.
A few months ago, I started working out at a no-frills gym. When I first walked in there, the energy was great and I saw men and women seriously focused on getting a healthy body. Yet that other side kicked in, too, which sounded like “I’m not like these people” or “God, they are bigger than me and I’ll never match up to them.” It was intimidating as hell. Yet I found some courage in me to speak with one of those very fit people. That led to other conversations and, eventually, all of my head space around feeling intimidated evaporated. It pops up here and there because I am human.
But I also learned that these men and women, whose dedication to their muscularity and fitness astound me, are human, too. Listening to their stories of how they got where they are from where they were is inspirational.
My point in relating that story to fear is pretty simple. If a man is willing to stretch out of his comfort zone and face fear in the face, then there’s a good chance his life will improve. Mind you, I did not say perfect or joyous all the time. It holds the promise of getting better day by day.
Every man is capable of outgrowing his fears, even if new ones crop up. The question becomes what does a man do with the fears? Hold on to them or give them up? Holding on will leave no room for happiness and joy. Surrendering gives a man an opportunity to discover a balanced life, filled with more of the good things than nagging worries. Worry is a close cousin to fear, too. It doesn’t help much at all, plus it takes up way too much energy.
Men need clear heads and hearts to live fully each day. With this new perspective, overcoming fears—with a little help from others—becomes easier. Give it a try.
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