Fear: Motivator or Showstopper?


Lisa Alioto

08 January 2020 22 comments

I am a big believer that every emotion has its purpose.   For example, I believe that fear comes to us in moments where we may want to consider taking pause to re-evaluate a situation.   To me though, it doesn’t mean halt!  It may actually serve as motivation for me to proceed ahead, go beyond my comfort zone, and stretch into new areas.

So, lets explore this a bit.  What is the purpose of fear?  Fear is our body’s way of telling us, “hey this is new territory, let’s take a moment and evaluate the situation.”  It’s in these moments that we evaluate if the return is worth the “cost” of the situation.  If the cost is too high in comparison to the reward, the opportunity may be a showstopper.  If the cost is high (or low) but the reward is great, we may actually not only proceed but use that fear as motivation to push ourselves towards the opportunity.

All of us have our own boundaries and comfort zones.  For me, in some ways, I used to really live my life by my fears.  In other words, if I felt that fear emotion coming on, I not only paused, I halted.    And… then I missed out.   I missed out on new opportunities, adrenaline rushes, and shared experiences.

As I got older and the list of what I had missed out on grew, I decided this was not the life for me.  I was going to venture beyond my comfort zone, no matter how uncomfortable it was and just go for it.  I was going to try new adventures (aerial obstacles courses despite my fear of heights!), try new things (learning to bet at the horse races – lesson learned:  you win some and you lose some but learning how to do it is half the fun!), and speak up (advocate for myself!) when I otherwise would have stayed silent.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go hog-wild with my decision to not let fear dictate my life anymore.  While I’ve greatly minimized the number of fears I have in my life that I let stop me in my tracks, I still have a decent number.   Perhaps a more “average” number now though.  After all, fear comes to us for a reason.  Sometimes we experience fear because we are approaching something that we really have reason to take caution from.

For example, I still fear the rollercoasters that are at Disneyland.  While it may not be rational (thousands ride it safely daily) for most, for me it’s completely rational.  I quickly get motion sickness on the tamest of rides.  That motion sickness pervades how I feel for the entire day.  If you’ve ever had it, you know what I mean.   So, in this case, this is a fear that I feel is justified.   I know what will happen if I do it, I definitely don’t want to get sick, and so I let my fear of that stop me from going on any roller coasters.

Overall, I think it’s all a bit of a balancing act of what is the “cost” of the fear and are we willing to pay that price.  Even if the cost is high, maybe we still feel it’s worth going for.  The take-away is just that good.   In these cases, sometimes we are able to use fear to spur us on, to be our motivator to go for it.  I know that many times for me the end result is a huge adrenaline rush!

If you feel you are living with “too many” fears, something that is completely self-determined, I encourage you to consider taking some baby steps on the side of fear.   The kind of fear that you feel is safe and has great take-aways.  You may just find that the more steps you take, the more steps you want to take!

  • Enterprise

22 thoughts on “Fear: Motivator or Showstopper?

  1. Dan "Jay" Reyes says:

    Good read. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Dan – I appreciate you stopping by!

  2. Nilakshi at merakimusings says:

    Motion sickness is the case with me and I have fear of heights. Trying to overcome it slowly. I love it when. I will remember this now on – “hey this is new territory, let’s take a moment and evaluate the situation.” Great post! Thank You!

    1. You are welcome Nilakshi – I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. I enjoyed this post. I agree, as daunting as fear is, it’s information. It’s trying to tell you something. Will you be in harm’s way? Will you grow personally/professionally along the way? As you said, it’s a matter of assessing whether it’s worth taking the leap despite the fear.

    1. Exactly Corrine!! I”m glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. Great post! I needed to read this! My sister and I both have always been terrified to fly on a plane. Rational or not, we’ve refused to ever do it. Now her daughter’s husband has just been stationed in Alaska and we live in Texas. My niece just told us she’s pregnant, so it looks like we will be facing our fear and flying to Alaska in late July this year! Wish us a ton of luck please! lol And thanks for a truly great post!!! 🙂

    1. Good luck – I know you can do it!!

  5. Yes, to this Lisa and it is true! Fear is mostly the one that holds us back to do great things in life. But I believed that if we surpassed fear then we can be great. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post! I always enjoy coming to your page. Have a wonderful day!

    1. I believe that as well – the greatest successes are achieved when we surpass our fears and go for it!


  6. I love this! It motivated me so much. As I grow older, Iw ant to experience new things and not let fear hold me back! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Aniysa!

  7. What a great break down of what fear is and why we experience it! I love getting out and facing my fears, but I definitely do it in baby steps!

    1. I am with you – sometimes baby steps is the way to go when the fear seems a bit too surmountable to tackle all at once!

  8. “balancing act of what is the “cost” of the fear and are we willing to pay that price.” -well said. That’s truly the sum of all of it. Fear can be a beautiful and tough love motivator, but it can just as easily be the destroyer of worlds.

    1. EXACTLY Ariana!! You nailed it!

  9. Joseph Huang

    Great post! I love how you view fear as either something to help you keep yourself in check AND as a motivator for doing something new and out of your comfort zone. Really mature way of using fear not letting it control you.

    1. Thank you Joseph!

  10. Great post I think fear can both hinder and motivate us depending on the situation. As you said, you have to weigh these things up and hopefully not let fear get in the way of too many great experiences x


    1. Lisa Alioto

      I completely agree Sophie – thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  11. Great read! I try to recognize the things that scare me, and see how I can overcome them in a healthy way. Sometimes they stop me from doing things but I’m trying to work past that.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Good for your Jennifer! It can be hard but very rewarding!

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