There are few reasons why we do not achieve our dreams.
Yes, there are “acts of God.” Philosophically, one might even accept fate or destiny as insurmountable barriers. Yet, aside from those, the immense majority of people living lives of quiet desperation reside there because of what’s going on in their minds more than on our planet. With credit to Walt Kelly, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We — not others — are more times than not, our worst adversaries.
I mean this not in a condescending, judgmental manner, as one might hear from no-nonsense hyper-achievers, “Just pull yourself up from the bootstraps, suck it in, and get it done. Don’t be such a wimp!” One cannot change years of brain wave patterns in the same manner in which he switches on or off a light. Negative thoughts today — click — positive henceforth. My objective today is also not designed to illustrate how messed up we are. I don’t think that’s true; we’re all doing the best we know how to do.
With appropriate disclaimers admitted, if we accept that we are standing in our own way, it begs the question, “Why would we do that?” Why do we not reach further, dream larger and believe better?
The primary answer is fear — fear of success, and its dastardly sibling, fear of failure.
These concepts are tossed about often than a well-worn basketball in a high school gym, yet rarely do we take the time to understand the difference between the two. For in doing so, we might be able to get past them.
Usually, fear of success is an apprehension that achieving one’s goals could generate future events unforeseen or out of one’s control and we won’t know what to do with them. For example, if I lose weight, members of the opposite sex might look at me differently. I might need to deal with flirting, or even sexual tensions, that — until now — have been kept at bay by the extra layers in which I can (literally and figuratively) hide. Another illustration could be that I worry friends who currently socialize with me around food (such as going out to lunch) might no longer feel comfortable doing so. What will we do then? Will I lose friendships? Will I become lonely?
Fear of success’s baseline concern is I might not like the way things are right now, but at least I know how to handle them. Change them and it could be worse.
Fear of failure, far more common, is being scared that my goals are really just empty pipe dreams. The regret in attempting it — and failing — would be so much more devastating than the conditions in which I now find myself, that I’d rather just stay put. In other words, “If I don’t do anything, I can’t fail and therefore, I won’t be disappointed. As it stands currently, at least I have my fantasy to comfort me. I am unwilling to risk those.”
Fear is a normal, sometimes even healthy, emotion. Its purpose is to protect us from harm, like a fortress. Yet, also like said fortress, it can keep out what might harm us — or, as a cage, it can prevent us from getting what we want.
Scott “Q” Marcus is a speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds 23 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentation. He also coaches individuals and consults with companies on how to implement and handle change. He can be reached at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com.