Today is Halloween so I decided to write about FEAR, inspired by one anonymous writer who commented on my blog last week:
“The paranoid establishment and those who sidle up to it to secure their own status at the expense of reason is not uncommon. Trying to control and influence these forces is full of danger. When you consider the human race as a whole, we are not nice people. The kill or be killed mindset is very difficult to get rid of. It’s amazing that anything actually gets done. So if you can influence the tribe for the better, then it is a noble goal, but taking on a paranoid, self serving establishment without a clear vision of a positive outcome is totally dangerous.”
The writer pointed out several truths worth noting:
- It’s human nature to be fearful and resistant to change.
- It’s “natural” for us to protect ourselves from certain types of change; sometimes even at the expense or detriment of others.
- History demonstrates that it’s not unusual for people to submit to an authority figure when they believe they can personally profit from it; regardless of whether that authority figure is self-serving, dictatorial or worse…down-right evil.
- If anyone dares to champion a cause for change, it’s necessary to have a clear vision to do so.
Fear is a powerful motivator to those possessing strong survival instincts, and my tribal community is full of survivors. Many have lived through traumatic experiences involving neglect, betrayal, rejection, abuse, violence, poverty or grief.
Survivors instinctively do whatever we can to control our lives and avoid experiencing those traumas again. We battle the fear of losing control, fear of rejection, fear of pain, of retaliation, humiliation and shame. We fear that those who have wounded or offended us will never be held accountable. We fear that we won’t be understood, that our story will never be heard, or that our contributions and accomplishments will be long forgotten. We fear that we will be thought of or remembered as worthless and insignificant.
There is no question that my tribe is in the midst of significant changes organizationally, socially, economically and politically. People naturally fear change. And when change is eminent, we become anxious. As a result, we often do what we can to avoid facing our fear. We hate the way fear makes us feel, so we sometimes attempt to control our environment and everyone in it, regardless of how our need to control affects others. Or sometimes we self-medicate with alcohol, anti-anxiety medication or other substances and behaviors that mask our emotional reaction to fear, and delay or ignore the need to address the root cause of our fears.
It is because of fear that we often resist challenging whatever stands in the way of progress, whether that progress results in personal growth, the restoration of relationships, emotional healing or even adopting self-discipline that would yield a positive result in our lives. In his book The Difference Maker, leadership expert John Maxwell demonstrates how fear is the enemy of progress. Fear paralyzes us, weakens us, wastes our energy and keeps us from reaching our full potential.
Fear makes us afraid of doing something that might be beneficial for us. Taking action will require us to move into the unknown, which can be scary. But if we give in to our fear, we don’t move forward. We don’t receive the benefit of what we avoided, nor do we gain the valuable experience that would make us better informed. As a result, we remain ignorant about that area of life, and ignorance almost always breeds more fear, making it that much harder to push ahead and get things done. (p. 128)
So if it really is within our nature to submit to fear, avoid change and be self-preserving; how, then, can we resist fear?
How do we lay down our own self-interest in order to make better decisions, or influence others for the greater good of an entire family or community?
Can one person really make a difference?
Over the next few weeks, I will post messages that address fear and change specific to my tribe, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation:
- What fear is;
- How to recognize the impact of fear and understand the “paralysis of analysis”;
- What it is about change that we are afraid of;
- How we can move forward, overcome fear, and embrace change for the better;
- What it means to need a “vision” for change.
In the meantime, I’ll close with these thoughts:
Each of us leaves a legacy: a lesson of example for others who knew us. Our legacy can be positive: encouraging growth, learning, fulfillment, healing and restoration. Or our legacy can be negative, if our individual lives and what we collectively represent serves as a dire warning to others.
What kind of legacy will you leave behind? Do you have the courage to face fear? Are you willing to allow change to begin within you?
Watch this video and be inspired.