Fear Wants Failure
The Union Path Podcast
Fear Wants Failure
[0:00:20] John Coleman: We all live with fear. On some level, in some way, fear is present in our lives. Perhaps not constantly, perhaps not even often. But fear is a core feature of the human experience. It's a core feeling, it's a core emotion, it's a core part of walking through life as a human being. Fear is unavoidable. Fear is inescapable. So when we know this, when we know that there's really no getting rid of fear, there's really no removal of fear, at least completely in our life, that's actually possible, what do we do with this information? How do we survive? How do we cope? How do we thrive if we know that on some level fear is going to be a recurrent companion, a recurring character in her life? Like a lot of things, the best way to live and thrive, even when fear is present is to really understand it is to really get to know it, get to understand what it does, get to understand why it does what it does, feel what it's like, feel what it feels like. Notice the times when it comes up. Notice the times when it seems to be the strongest. Notice the times when it seems to be affecting and influencing our thoughts and behaviors the most.
[0:02:01] John Coleman: It can be a little extreme to say that we need to befriend fear because it doesn't feel like a very good friend. It doesn't feel like a quality that we really want to spend a lot of time with. But fear is important. Fear is necessary in a lot of ways. Fear is crucial because as a messenger it's telling us something needed. It's providing some sort of vital information that we ignore at our own peril, we overlook at our own detriment. And there is most definitely a way to live a great life, fear and all. To feel clear, to feel liberated, to feel free with our fear. When we really start to understand fear, we really start to understand the ways in which it affects their life. The times at which it's most present, it's most palpable, it's most profound. We can really learn a lot about ourselves. We can really learn a lot about what's unconscious. We can learn a lot about things we really believe things we really think habits that we've formed in order to deal with and often soothe our own fear. But if we really want to grow and change, if we really want to be creative in our own life, at some point we'd have to learn how to deal with fear, how to work with fear, how to find a partnership and a cooperation with fear. Because again, it's not going anywhere.
[0:03:57] John Coleman: We can't make it go away. We might as well confront it. We might as well get to know it. We might as well find ways to include it in as healthy and productive ways as we possibly can. Because the more unconscious we are with our own fear, the more likely fear is to influence us into lives we don't actually want to live, that we don't actually enjoy. The more easily fear can become a captor, fear can build walls around what we do, what we try. The more fear can have a say and really dictate the path that we follow, the path of our life experience on a daily basis. And if we found fear present in our lives quite a bit, if we've given fear, even unconsciously, a little bit too much influence, a little bit too much of a say in what we do and what we don't do, I think one of the fairly consistent things we can realize is that at its core, seemingly, anyway, fear wants failure. Fear wants stagnation, fear wants less. Fear wants sameness. Because ultimately what we do a lot of times to assuage our own fear is to choose whatever path feels the safest. We try to eliminate risk, especially risk for pain in our life down to as close to zero as we possibly can. But we do these things when we're in service of fear. When we're working for our fear, we can find a really useful transition, a really liberating change by instead of working for our fear, of working with our fear, we can renegotiate and reestablish our relationship with fear. Instead of being a superior to being a peer, we don't have to elevate fear over everything else.
[0:06:18] John Coleman: And of course fear can carry very strong emotions. Fear can be very uncomfortable. We can feel fear in very potent and penetrating ways. But we don't have to let these feelings dictate the prevalence and priority of fear in our own life. It's like a lot of aspects of the human experience, especially the more difficult ones, in order to find our way to our best life, to our fullest life, to our most complete life is we're going to have to find a way to work with fear. We're going to have to find a way to include it. We're going to have to find ways to make this part of ourselves, part of our lives. For the full life. We have to integrate and express all of ourselves. But we need to do so in balance. We need to do so consciously. We need to do so in a way of where no part of ourselves is greater or more elevated than any other part. It can be really easy to put fear upon a very high pedestal primarily because it is so uncomfortable, it is so triggering, especially if we've experienced any sort of calamity or big failure or gutting experience or despair or trauma. These fear responses can really be strengthened, can really be magnified because they're bringing up old pain, they're reminding us of how bad we felt once and signaling to us, you're going to feel that way again. You need to stop, you need to change.
[0:08:12] John Coleman: Don't go there, leave that door closed, don't walk through it. Lock it if you can. Even though these feelings are valid, these feelings are real. Doesn't mean they have to be the authority. It doesn't mean they have to be overvalued and overproritized. We don't need to let fear rule and run our lives. We don't need to subjugate and subordinate ourselves to our own fear. There is a way to work with it. There is a way to live a full life through it if we have the courage and the wherewithal and the clarity to do so. One of the ways fear can really impact our life is in convincing us that small is always better. One of the ways fear can really coach us in to specific courses of action is through its demanding that everything must be predictable, that risk must be managed as close to none as we possibly can. This can cause our plans. This can cause our vision. This has caused our ideas about our own lives to get really complicated, to feel really far out, to feel really involved, which in and of itself can introduce a sense of helplessness, hopelessness, or at the very least, make our dreams and aspirations and desires feel much harder, much further away, much more distant, much more unlikely that we'll ever actually get there. In order to create anything, in order to create any sort of real change at some point we're going to have to learn to deal with our own fear.
[0:10:18] John Coleman: We have to learn to work with our own fear. We have to learn to feel our own fear and we can. We can feel it, we can't listen to it. We can really try to sense and comprehend what it's trying to tell us and we can take that information and balance it against what we actually know. Because it could be, it might even be likely that fear is telling a story that isn't actually true. At the very least, fear is telling a very exaggerated story, a very unrealistic story that if we look at it and we compare it with what we actually know, what we actually know through our own awareness, through our own self awareness, we can apply a little bit of fact checking. We can see the areas where fear may be telling a story that isn't true or at very least isn't entirely true, isn't the whole story. We can use our fear to understand that pain is real, loss is real, suffering is real. And we can also understand that there's no way to live a full life, a complete life without these things present at least some of the time. Because ultimately, if we really want to carry this out, if we really want to manage our fear down to zero, then what that would require is never actually changing, never actually growing. We'd have to halt all progress in our life. We'd have to reduce our life down to being so small, so routine, so predictable. And if we were able to actually do that. I think we'd actually fairly quickly find that's not actually life. Life is growth and change.
[0:12:30] John Coleman: Life is risk. Life is trying new things. Life is trying again. Life is success and life is failure. Life is pleasure and life is pain. Life is joy and life is sadness. Life is expansion and life is grief. There's no way out of this conundrum at some level want to live a full life. We have to accept the fact that growth and change and expansion and risk and loss is part of it. Pain can never be avoided because if we can completely avoid our pain then we'll completely avoid our pleasure as well. If we shrink life down to only what is absolutely positively safe and secure and can never cause us any pain, then we shrink our lives down to a level that I don't think if we're honest, any one of us actually want to live. Things can get pretty dull, things can get pretty bleak, things can get pretty grim when there's no change happening, when there's no growth happening, when there's no expansion happening, often when there's no expression happening we can even see. Fear have a really funny effect on our ideas about what we want, especially if you want to create some sort of big change in our life. We want something in our life experience to pretty radically change. If we have a lot of fear it can not only feel like there's a million things that have to happen in order for that change to happen but it can feel like it's going to take a million years to actually get there.
[0:14:25] John Coleman: But that's fear talking. That's the bias of smallness that fear is trying to advocate. If we want big change often that means developing a comfort with big changes happening, with big things happening. If we've decided that this big change that we want is going to require hundreds if not thousands of small changes we can very easily lose our grip, lose our feeling sense of what we want to have happen, of where we want to go because it just gets so complicated and feels like such a long term project. But it doesn't have to be this way. If we want a big change in our life we can get comfortable with the idea of big things happening to us. We can learn to envision them, we can learn to invite them, we can learn to want them because the fear is overly active. That can create a natural repulsion to whatever we're afraid of. And if we're afraid of the very things that we want then we set ourselves up at the very least for stagnation. We're creating a counter force towards the desire that's trying to call us forward. We're pushing and pulling at the same time we're trying to do and we're trying not to do the same thing at the same time. And these counteracting forces can really cancel each other out, can really make us stuck and really create a sense of, if not an experience of stagnation. But we don't have to take our fear literally. We don't have to be a fear fundamentalist. Fear is a feeling, and we can attach whatever meaning to that feeling that we want.
[0:16:30] John Coleman: We can attach whatever clarity and knowing to that feeling that we want. We're the ones who ultimately decide the significance and the meaning of every feeling that we have. And that doesn't mean feelings can't be trusted. Oftentimes feelings are the most accurate guidance we have. But it doesn't mean interpretation is vital too. It's not just feelings, and it's not just thinking and meaning and discernment. It's both. It's both feeling the feelings and getting down to the truth of what they really mean, getting down to the real message that they're trying to convey. And again, any act of creation, any act of creating something new will require a dance with fear. And the bigger that change is, especially the more important that change is, oftentimes the magnitude of that fear will rise right along with it. In some ways, we can actually use the things that we're the most scared of to help us know what's actually the most important to us, especially when it comes to fear of failure. That's a really important truth right there because the more we're afraid of failing at something, the more important that thing is to us. That's really useful information, that's really helpful guidance, that's really important clarity. And we all have our own path, we all have our own way that we learn to deal with fear. We can all learn to listen and include our fear without letting it take us over.
[0:18:24] John Coleman: We can let it be helpful. We can let it fill in something that maybe we weren't aware of. We can let it give us some ideas that maybe we haven't thought about yet. We can use it to round out and complete our thinking and knowing of whatever we're afraid of. And we can juxtapose that with the truth that we know about ourselves, with the truth that we know about what we really want, what we really want to be, what calling we feel in our life, what attraction or pull that we feel in our life. And the more completely we can feel our fear, the more we can really listen to it and really understand it, the more it can help us, the more it can help shape whatever it is we're trying to do. Fear isn't a villain. Fear isn't a boogeyman. Fear isn't bad. Fear is communication. Fear is expressing some vital truth that we actually need to know. And again, we choose how we apply this truth, we choose how we perceive this truth. We choose our own knowing and our own integration of whatever fear we feel. But if we're overly captured by fear, if we're overly taken over by fear, if we're overly in service of fear, that can really affect our behavior, can really affect our decisions because we're going to be choosing solely what the fear wants. Solely what the fear needs.
[0:20:14] John Coleman: And again, oftentimes what that fear wants is failure. What that fear wants is for us to not actually do whatever we're afraid of. That fear wants us to not actually experience what we're afraid of. But we don't have to give it the final say. We don't have to take our fears literally. It's important and incumbent on us to feel our fear and interpret it, to get to whatever knowing is vital for us to have. That's our work. It's our work to build and maintain a close relationship with our own fear, to really know it and use that knowing to help us know ourselves a little bit better. Use that knowing to inform our own self awareness. As a simple little example, let's say we want to have some big shift, some big change in our life. We want our life to get much bigger, much fuller, much more rich, much more meaningful, much more fulfilling, much more sustaining. We look at our current circumstances, we just don't have the resources to do that. We can feel really easily stuck, let's say, in our own income situation. If we have a grand division of our life that would require some multiple of the income that we currently make. When fear gets involved, that can not only make that outcome feel far less likely, but we can look at that change as requiring a multitude of steps.
[0:22:07] John Coleman: It's being really complicated. It's having to make dozens, if not hundreds of changes in order to actually get there. But that doesn't actually have to happen. It doesn't actually have to take all those steps. It doesn't actually have to take all that time because we can entertain an opposite thought experiment of what would happen if we achieved and possessed this multiple of our income today, tomorrow. Wouldn't that one change change everything? This isn't to say we shouldn't be practical. This isn't to say that we shouldn't craft plans and strategies for ourselves that are at least reasonable. Again, I'm not advocating for delusion. But what I am advocating for is being able to spot fear, being able to spot where fear gets involved and making things way more complicated than they need to be, making things feel way further away than they have to be. In our income example, if this one change, if nothing else in our life had to change, but this one change would pretty much change everything, then that really isn't that complicated. That doesn't have to be that far out. This is a thought experiment or where we can realize that the change we want can actually happen to us at any time. It doesn't mean it will. We're not fortunetelling.
[0:23:45] John Coleman: We're understanding that especially when fear is involved, we can make things way more complicated and we can separate ourselves from what we actually want way too much. And when we find that fear has been overly present in our life, when we find that fear has been advocating for failure, advocating for the things that we actually want to not actually work because that's just too scary, that's just too much risk that we can identify something very useful for us to work on. Because in order to remove that counteracting force between us and our desires, us and our dreams, on some level, we need to not be scared of them. We need to not be scared of what we actually want. We need to actually want what we want. Instead of splitting us into where part of us wants what we want and the other part doesn't want what we want, we need to find a sense of wholeness. All parts of us need to be integrated and moving in the same direction. We can't split ourselves in, pull in opposite directions and expect to actually get anywhere. If what we want is what we want, we need to learn to actually try to go there. We need to learn to not be scared of going there. Or at the very least, learn to feel fear and do it anyway. Because a lot of times this is the only way to learn to not be afraid is to actually experience something different. We can try to think differently, we can try to change our belief system. But especially for beliefs that are deeply held, it can be really difficult to truly change those, to truly affect those without experiencing something different. Especially if those deep held thoughts and beliefs are based on past experience, that in order to really know something, really integrate it deep into our consciousness, deep into our knowing of ourselves, we have to actually experience it.
[0:26:15] John Coleman: It needs to not just be possible, just be theoretical, just be academic. It needs to be real. And there's nothing more real than experience. And so if we know this, if we've known that we've tried before and if we've failed, we've gotten hurt, we've gotten injured, we've gotten damaged, but that desire is still there, is still deep within us calling us towards it. We need to find a path towards it. We need to try to achieve it, try to actually get there. Try to get there while working with our own fear, while not letting fear build an impenetrable barrier between us and our desires, us and our dreams, us and what we really want. And this is a process especially for really important desires and dreams, we can't just snap our fingers and make the fear go away. Fear has to be worked with. Fear has to be worked on and we can fear is a feeling and no matter how overwhelming that feeling is, it doesn't have to stop us. It's not actually a physical barrier. It's not actually a barrier to thinking. It's not actually a barrier to envisioning, to dreaming, to wanting. Fear only stops us if we let it. Fear has no power to control us other than the power that we give it.
[0:27:58] John Coleman: We can learn to revoke that power. It doesn't have to be all at once. It can be slowly. This is a process, this is a practice, this is work. We can find a way to have our desires and our dreams and have our fear and move forward anyway, grow anyway, change anyway, try anyway. We don't have to let fear coach us into failure, coach us into giving up. Coach us into letting go. What we actually want, coach us into abandoning our dreams, our desires. What we actually feel deep on the inside, deep in our knowing, would be the best for us is what we really, truly in our heart and soul want. We don't have to let fear make us stop. We don't have to let fear make us change. We don't have to let fear alter what we know about ourselves. We don't have to let fear alter the vision we have for our life. We don't have to let fear dictate what we do and what we don't. We can hold our fear and our aspirations and our dreams and our desires at the same time.
[0:29:26] John Coleman: We can move forward with all of us completely. We can let fear teach us. We can let fear have a say. But we don't have to give fear veto power. We don't have to let fear have the whole say because again, fear doesn't have the whole story. As strong as these feelings are, fear is not actually that knowing. Even though fear may feel very magnanimous and very confident of its own position, of its own ideas, we can balance that with our own knowing. We can trust ourselves. We've really done the work to become fully self aware, fully self actualized, fully self known. We don't have to let this fear fracture us. We don't have to let this fear override this knowing just because it's such a powerful and potent feeling. We can live a great life with our fear intact. And as we try, as we grow, as we express, as we experience new things, this fear can't help but be lessened, can't help but be lessened because it's better informed. Especially if our fear is based on something that happened to us once and the opposite happens to us, well then that's more experience, that's more truth, that's more knowing that because something happened to us once, it doesn't mean it's going to happen to us every time. We can trust our awareness.
[0:31:12] John Coleman: We can trust our discernment. We can trust that we can try and work towards whatever we want to, work towards making whatever modifications we need to make along the way. We don't have to let fear stop us. We don't have to let fear be an unpassable barrier. We can look at fear as both a valued teacher and an obstacle. We can learn to get better at feeling and learning from and integrating our own fear to make us more whole, make us more complete, make us more wise, make us more knowing. Because pain isn't meant to be experienced forever. Loss and grief are not meant to be experienced forever. These are very uncomfortable emotions, these are very uncomfortable experiences. But we don't need to allow them to persist and take up resonance in our life longer than they need to. We can choose to move and feel with our fear, which ultimately is what's going to allow us to move beyond our fear is really going to allow us to experience and achieve and inhabit the life we actually want. And then the funny thing is there'll be more growth and expansion beyond that. And maybe fear will come back again because now things have gotten bigger. Now we've grown and the things that we want have grown along with it. Because a lot of times growth can be the last thing fear wants.
[0:33:03] John Coleman: That fear can return, it can ratchet itself back up again. Because now what we're going after was bigger than before, seems riskier than before. There's more unknown, the stakes are higher. But again, we don't need to fully listen. We can feel our fear without giving it ultimate authority. We can get past our fear by not latching onto it so tightly. We can move beyond our fear by learning to listen, take in everything it's trying to tell us, everything it has to show us, and then letting it go. This choice is always up to us. We don't have to choose small, we don't have to choose stagnation, we don't have to choose slowness, we don't have to choose failure because our fear wants us to. We can endeavor after what we actually want in its fullness. In fact, the truth is that's actually the best way to achieve anything is by first wanting it fully. Not talking ourselves out of what we actually want, not diminishing things down to whatever seems the most likely or accessible or possible, because that's eluding our own dreams, that's diminishing our own passions and desires and wants down to something we may not actually even want. At the very least, something we actually want far less. The power of our desire is going to be the energy that propels us towards whatever we're going after. And the stronger that desire is, the more energy we'll have to carry us through.
[0:34:59] John Coleman: And we don't have to let fear rob us of our essential energy. Fear is a very dirty fuel to run on and we can choose to run clean, we can choose to run clear by pursuing and endeavoring after what we actually want in its fullness, not negotiating with ourselves down to something smaller, easier, quicker, more accessible. Our fullest life is lived by the fullest connection to the fullest version of our dreams and we find our way to this fullness by being honest with ourselves about what we actually want, what a full, rich, complete, meaningful life actually really means to us. Connecting with the fullest version of our dreams, our desires, our meaning, our vision, our calling in our life. We get to fullness by connecting with fullness. And we connect to fullness by connecting with our whole selves, abiding our fear, abiding the full version of our dreams and moving forward fully, taking full steps towards what we actually want. The first step in getting everything we want is really understanding and really accepting everything we want. Going into life with a fullness of our desires and our dreams and our passions. Letting these attractions, letting this pull, letting this calling not only guide us, but pull us forward, letting the full energy of what we want pull us forward into the experience and the expression of it. We sabotage ourselves by pursuing things we don't actually want. We can delay ourselves by going after only partial measures of what we actually want. It's important for us to know what we really want in its fullness, in its completeness, in its most energized and concentrated form. Because that's the energy of life, that vision is what's going to provide the energy that leads to that manifestation. And we get to choose. We get to choose how fully and completely we connect with what we want.
[0:37:54] John Coleman: We get to choose how fully and completely we express ourselves. We get to choose how fully and completely we endeavor after what we actually want. But the more clear, the more full our connection is with what we actually want, the more we'll see that fullness and that connection and that energy expressed in our life.
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