How does fear motivate us

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Fear is not a bad thing

You might think that fear is a bad thing and that it can prevent you from living your normal life but in fact fear can be a great source of motivation.

Emotions in general were not created to bother you but they were created to help you take actions that can improve your life. The number one reason we feel very bad because of emotions is that we don't really act upon them. See also How actions can improve your emotions.

Any powerful emotion is a blessing in disguise for the energy you can get out of an emotion depends on its intensity. If you are feeling very bad right now then you have a great deal of energy that you can use to do great things.

All what you need to do is to put this energy in the right direction. The main reason bad emotions hurt us is that we don't channel them in the right direction but instead we just suppress them.

How does fear motivate us

In the famous scene in the movie the dark night rises a very interesting conversation about fear took place. Let's take a look at it:

Blind Prisoner: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.
Bruce Wayne: Why?
Blind Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible
without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death.
Bruce Wayne: I do fear death. I fear dying in here, while my city burns,
and there's no one there to save it.
Blind Prisoner: Then make the climb.
Bruce Wayne: How?
Blind Prisoner: As the child did. Without the rope. Then fear will find you again.

The whole conversation revolves around a very important point which is that fear can motivate us to do extreme things provided that we channel it in the right direction.

If we directed this fear to the inside then we might develop disorders such as paranoia, fear of darkness, fear of ghosts or generalized anxiety disorder. See This is where the ghosts in your house come from

Many of the disorders that are related to fear are developed when this fear is turned inwards. After all the brain will always try to find a way to get rid of excessive intense emotions. The brain might start projecting those fears on other objects thus leading to different kinds of fear related disorders. See Why lack of courage causes most psychological disorders.

How to let negative emotions motivate you

So just as you saw negative emotions can either break you or motivate you to do great things and the choice is yours. Here is how to turn those negative emotions into a powerful motivating force:

  • 1) Understand the nature of emotions: Don't get emotions wrong. They aren't there to ruin your life but they are here to help you find the right track. Once you get emotions correctly you will be able to do the right thing. See Where do emotions come from?
  • 2) Don't distract yourself: Most people try to distract themselves from negative emotions by keeping themselves busy and doing many other practices that have the objective of letting them forget about their bad emotions. When people do so they lose the chance to grow and they just turn their fears inwards. See Why keeping yourself busy when facing a problem never works
  • 3) Channel your emotion in the right direction: What you need to do as soon as you feel really bad is to understand that you have great energy at your disposal. Put it in the right place and you can do miracles. See The ultimate solution to all of your problems

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