Fear has such a negative connotation.
Self-help and productivity gurus tell you that you need to get rid of your fear and eliminate it from your thinking in order to achieve “the life of your dreams.” They claim that because of your fears, you’re not growing, you’re stifled, and you’re faced with insurmountable obstacles.
“Overcome your fear,” they like to say.
What sounds self-empowering is actually quite harmful to your psyche because you can’t simply “overcome” all of your fears with a list of soothing words or positive affirmations that aren’t even true.
Fear will always exist within you, whether you like it or not. It’s part of being alive and living in a world full of uncertainties. With uncertainty, comes fear.
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t listen to your fears, especially your fears of the future.
Newsflash: Your fears are good at predicting the future. Far more than you think.
If you think you’re going to be laid off and fired at some point, you’re probably right. If you think you’re going to run out of money, you’re probably right. If you think you’re unable to find a stable footing in life, you’re probably right. If you think your big dream will go up in flames, you’re probably right.
That’s because fear is realistic. It’s pragmatic. Fear of the worst likely outcome is there to protect you from inevitable disappointment. It’s there to shatter your illusions of easily attainable prosperity and delusions of grandeur. Fear is good at predicting what you will happen if you do not do anything to change yourself today or make any effort to step out of your comfort zone. You’re going to experience the worst possible outcome if you do not keep up with the shifting uncertainties of the world. That’s what fear is trying to tell you.
Fear is the most accurate in predicting the future. People who suppress their fears or worse, pretend that they don’t even exist, are most likely to be disappointed down the road. And end up failing because they haven’t mentally prepared themselves to deal with unpredictable circumstances.
When you’re afraid, it means you really care about your next steps. It means you’re interested in the outcome and you want things to go well, in spite of how much fear is making you believe that all things will end up in abysmal failure. While you are more likely to fail than succeed in this hyper-competitive world, ignoring your fears will do more harm than good.
Ignoring your fears is not the same as conquering them.
What you really need to do is acknowledge that your fears are right, but you have the power to change and adapt based on what you predict is most likely to happen. If your fear is telling you that you’re going to get laid off, you’ll feel so much discomfort that you’re compelled to change and find new opportunities elsewhere. If your fear is telling you that your passion project is going to fail, you’ll be compelled to change your direction and pursue something else that you’re more likely to succeed in.
Even when you’re afraid, it’s not good to ignore your fears. Acknowledge that they exist and do something about them. They are trying to warn you about an inevitably doomed future if you do not start acting now. If you’re experiencing constant fear in your life, it’s because there’s something in your life that you haven’t resolved yet and you’re not doing enough to improve your situation.
Although fears can predict the future, albeit a bleak one, being fully aware of their presence is better than brushing them aside with platitudes that don’t mean anything. The best way to create a future you love in spite of your fears is to embrace the uncertainty ahead, know what you have to offer, be more observant of the world around you, and adapt accordingly.
Your fears may be best at predicting the future, but only if you do nothing about their existence.