Here’s Why You Actually Shouldn’t Do The Things That Scare You

I used to let fear drive me into action. It’s the reason why I jumped off a 10-meter cliff when I was a child or why I insisted on trying to understand emotions or why I got on a roller-coaster when all I did was scream my lungs out.

But is this really the right way to use our fear? To get us to do things we actually do not care to do or necessarily want to do, but because we fear it, we should do it… just to face it? And then once we’ve faced it, what’s next? Do we overcome our fear? I still fear heights, no matter how many times I stand on the edge, no matter how many jumps or leaps I take. The fear is still there.

I think about the times when my enthusiasm has driven me, when trying to achieve some goals has gotten my brain so stimulated that I go into a flow and things just work. This happened when I had a goal of doing a solo trip, and once I put my mind to it, I found solutions to the problems that arose or wanting to learn about energy healing at a time when I was probably at the lowest point in my life. The excitement of learning drove me to focus on what I wanted. I just knew I wanted to do these things because they made me excited, not because I felt this need to face a fear.

Both emotions have the ability to drive us. Fear can be used to push us further, to make us go beyond our self-imposed limits, and to help us understand ourselves on a deeper level. But if fear is all we focus on, it can wrap us in anxiety, stop us from appreciating the present, or even stop us from appreciating whatever it’s made us accomplish because we’re just so happy to have faced the challenge.

Doing something because we’re excited about the idea of the possibilities that may exist or because we are filled to the brim with enthusiasm has a different energy or feeling to it.

When I think about something that I’m doing because I’m facing a fear, I wake up (or stay up) anxious and filled with dread, but I push myself to do it, whatever it is. There’s some internal fire that burns to conquer this challenge. Once accomplished, I collapse in a heap of relief, grateful that it’s over—the fire has died and the fear has been faced. Until next time.

When I think about doing something because I’m excited about it, what a different feel it has. Either there’s no sleep because of the enthusiasm or I wake up ready to go. I’m energized, optimistic, and confident that I’m on the right path to whatever this passion is; once it has happened, I am grateful and filled with a memory that stays warm for a long time. The fire carries on burning, ready for the next challenge. Looking back isn’t filled with dread but satisfaction that something was accomplished. I cannot wait for something similar to happen again.

Having felt the difference between these two drivers and knowing that challenges are what gives us growth, should we not be thinking more about what makes us excited in life as opposed to what fears we hold? When I want to face something now, my question will be: Is this because of fear or a passion I have, and do I want to spend nights anxious or excited?