Surviving Is Not Thriving

Photo of Laird Hamilton, taken by Tim McKenna

If you wait until all of the fear is gone, you’ll be dead in a box. ~Terry DeMeo

What scares you?  Are you afraid of: not being good enough, not having enough, not being able to accomplish a goal, being ridiculed, getting rejected or being lonely? Maybe you’re afraid of death. That makes sense, since the sole purpose of fear is protection and self-preservation.  All the other little worries like being afraid you won’t find the right job, have enough money or hook up with the right mate are all streams flowing into the big river Fear of Death. If your sole purpose on this planet was just to survive, I’d say you’re doing a fine job, survive away.  However, I believe you know that you are here to do way more than just take up oxygen. You came here to fill a void that only you can fill, you came here to develop and deliver your gifts and talents–you came here to thrive.  The problem is you may be stuck in survival mode anxiously wondering what if? and stressing yourself out with I shoulds all day long, it’s an easy trap to fall into—but you need to climb out of it, because it really sucks in there.

Here’s a sobering fact that may help put things into perspective: you will not make it out of this life alive. None of us will.  Take that in for a moment.  All this trying to avoid danger and all things scary won’t buy you your life–in fact, it will end up robbing you of it.  I don’t completely reject fear as something useful.  It’s super handy if when you’re crossing the street, you notice a semi-truck careening out of control and heading right toward you.  You will appreciate the rush of adrenaline and your impulse to get out of the way in a hurry.  In this scenario, fear bought you some more time on this planet.  Well done.  Most of the time, however, we don’t find ourselves in many truly life-threatening situations, but we constantly psyche ourselves out with worry and a preoccupation to not look dumb.   When we operate from fear, not only are we exhausted from the stress and anxiety caused by living on high alert,  but we also cut ourselves off from our abilities to create, innovate, solve and even celebrate. Thriving takes all kinds of resources we can’t afford to use because, according to Fear, we are in mortal danger and we must abandon all non-protective activity so we can save ourselves from the super scary consequences that may result from, say, a less than stellar public speaking attempt.

So don’t bother asking that hottie out for a date, or starting your own business or pursuing your dream of being a rock star.  You may get rejected, you may fail and people may ridicule you. Oh no, anything but that! Just go back to surviving.  Until you die. Or, you could take risks (as calculated as you like), stop listening to everyone around you (believe me, they don’t have a clue on how to live your life) and start listening to and obeying your urge to thrive.  Let your white-hot passions and dreams (your authentic wishes, informed by your gut) and your insatiable desire to express them be your guide to living. You come fully equipped with all the information and instructions on how to live a fully fabulous life, but you have to get out of survival mode to follow through with it. You cannot be in survival mode and thriving mode at the same time:  you have to choose to occupy one place or the other.

Are you content with surviving or do you want to blow it out, do it big and go out knowing you accomplished what you came here to do?  Just for fun, do something today that you’ve always wanted to do, but scares you a little (or a lot).  Who would you be without the fear?

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