What’s funny is that I never knew I was living in constant fear until just recently.
I’ve spent a LOT of time, money, and energy on my own personal development, spiritual growth, healing, and more. It seems that this would have come up earlier, but as I start to uncover what fear REALLY is, I realize that so many of my days have been spent in a space of fear.
Fear is a concept that is talked about pretty regularly in all the realms that I mentioned before, but I am not sure I really, fully connected the dots.
By definition, fear is “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger”. We often think of danger as something that could actually kill us or threaten our lives. Which thankfully, I don’t experience all that often. And funny enough, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie – the actual danger of losing my life isn’t all that scary to me!
Fear is an emotion that is designed to signal to our brain that we are in trouble or that we MIGHT be in trouble. It’s like an alarm that goes off in our brain to signal to our bodies to be aware. It’s a helpful signal that we need to be aware of for sure! If we didn’t have fear, we would likely die a lot younger. So, we can be thankful for that aspect.
While the physical danger doesn’t really freak me out that much anymore, what has been terrifying to me for all these years is the other side of fear that I wasn’t aware I was really experiencing.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been a bit of a “people-pleaser”. At a few points throughout my life, it’s gotten quite unhealthy, to the point of pushing moral and ethical boundaries.
“All out of the fear that someone might get mad at me, leave me, reject me, judge me. You name it, I avoided that side of things like the plague.”
Growing up, I went to a great elementary school. I had a lot of great friends from great families and it was mostly a pleasant experience. My family always lived in another neighborhood than all of my friends, and when it was time for me to go to middle school, I was separated to another school. I went from being top of the chain to bottom of the barrel.
I had no real friends anymore and just about zero self esteem (as most middle schoolers do). But “fitting in” was my number one priority. I couldn’t afford to not have friends! So anyone that remotely wanted to interact with me, I was all ears. During that phase of my life, by default, I got really good at reading people and learning what drove them. What made them feel good and what being a good friend to THEM might look like. Then I would create that through my own actions to essentially give them what they would want and my reward was “friendship”. Or at least what looked like friendship, so that I wouldn’t look like such a loser.
While that gift really served me in middle school, it carried with me for many years to come. Through high school, college, and into my early working years. Little did I know, I became a MASTER of reading what others wanted from me and delivering. I figured out how to “fit in” and be one with the pack. Even if it went against my own ethical code. That was more important to me than anything.
So, you might be asking… “What in the world does this have to do with fear, Jordan?”
A very genuine and real fear of ours is not being accepted or approved. It’s a true and psychological NEED that we have that dates back to our primitive days. In the days of the cave man up to even just earlier civilizations, if you didn’t have a tribe or group to live with, you would die. And even today, we need connection and human contact, just as much as we need food, water, and shelter.
That was always one of my main drivers and motivators. So, while it may not have seemed like it from the outside, my whole life was built off of social fear!
Don’t get me wrong, this conditioned behavior has served me throughout my life. It’s brought a lot of great things to my life! I am a fantastic salesperson, I make friends easily, I’ve got a great reputation in my community.
Where it gets dangerous and uncomfortable is all of the negative side effects that it began producing in my life. Stress, anxiety, and worry to name a few. I’ll dive deeper into each of these topics later on, but these are the silent killers that fear produces. They create so many negative emotions in the mind and the body, which ripple out into every aspect of our lives.
When fear rules your life, there is not much room for any other feelings – good or bad. To this day, I still catch myself living in fear. Particularly social fear. Fearing what others will think of me, how they will judge me, what they will say about me, etc.
The reason that this is so dangerous, is that when we are constantly so worried about what OTHERS are thinking, doing, feeling, etc. we leave little room for what YOU are actually thinking, doing, and feeling. It completely takes you out of the present and into another realm that is not even real.
When you are in fear, you are not your real self.
I got to the point in my mid-20’s that I was so numb because fear was so strong. It controlled my every action and I lost compassion and empathy. Everything became about being liked and having all of the things that were socially accepted. A successful career, money, the car, the nice apartment, a great body. Just to name a few. It was out of control and nothing was ever enough. Fear was driving the boat and the real Jordan was slowly dying. Numb and lifeless – that’s all I was anymore.
Here’s the thing..
“where there is fear, there cannot be love, acceptance, or joy.”
They do not and CANNOT exist at the same time. Fear will keep us trapped in a box that isn’t ours.Fear will try to stop us from going after what it is that we really want. But you were born to be unique. You were born to stand out. And you were born to experience all that life has to offer! On the other side of understanding our fears and working with them is everything we’ve been working so hard for. So keep leaning into the discomfort that fear presents.
I promise it’s so worth it!