Truth Bomb Tuesday: Are we hard-wired to fear the things we love?
Humans are pretty strange creatures.
We are a mess of contradictions and competing drives. How we get anything done amazes me.
And the more I work with people (and I mean really work with people – getting past spreadsheets and feasibility studies into questions about what you really want out of life) the more messy we all seem.
And one of the most peculiar things is this phenomenon that we seem to love the things we fear most.
I’m not talking about a pathological fear of tiramisu or anything like that. I’m talking about the way the directions we most want to open into in life, are also the ones that scare us most.
Think about ‘change’ for example.
If you’re one of my students, imagine you’re five years down the track. You’ve got a solid performance portfolio behind you, and enough passive income to take the rest of life off.
What do you see yourself doing?
You’d be surprised at how many people see themselves doing a glorified nothing.
“I’m going to drink daiquiris by the beach in the Bahamas, Dymphna, until they have to scrape my cane-toad leathered corpse off the deck chair with a pool cleaner. I’m not going to answer another email, take another phone call. I’m going to do nothing at all.”
And I get that.
Life has got us running so ragged, that when most people allow themselves to dream, they dream of doing nothing. Of resting. Of curling up in bed and taking June off.
But take it from a woman who has given doing nothing a red hot go – after a while you get bored.
It’s one of the quirks of the human condition. We like change. We like novelty. No matter how nice things are, we like to mix it up every now and then.
(You also start looking for meaning – you know, helping people through wealth training and that sort of thing.)
So imagine your six years down the track. You’ve just given yourself a year off and recharged the batteries. Now what?
Most people go looking for adventure. They want to travel, learn a musical instrument, spend a whole winter skiing. They see themselves doing something fabulous and new every three months.
A life full of change is an exciting life.
Even right now, today, the improvements you want to make in your life, by definition, involve change. Change has the power to make things better.
But change is also scary. In fact, it’s one of the most scary things out there.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had like this:
“I enrolled in your course Dymphna because if I have to spend another day pushing pens around an office I’m going to go postal.”
“Well, if you feel that strongly about it, you should quit your job.”
“Oh no, there’s bills to pay, and I’m coming up for long-service leave, and I get as many pens as I want…”
Change is scary. I get that too. I often wondered where I would have ended up if life didn’t just grab me and force me down this road.
I’d probably just have a comfortable accounting practice somewhere. The fear of change creates a lot of inertia, even for me. But fortunately change was in my cards.
So change makes life awesome and change is scary.
It’s a paradox.
We often fear the things we love. Maybe it’s the fear that makes it so exciting and alluring:
Seems pretty much everything worth having in life comes with a dose of fear.
So if you’re not sure what you want to do in life, and the question “What do I love doing?” hasn’t yielded any results, why not try the question “What do I fear most?” instead.
You might be surprised where it might lead you.