Every day we make thousands of decisions, from what to have for breakfast, to where to send our children to school. Some decisions we don’t even realize we are making, and some take a lot of meditation, thought and prayer.
How often do we stop to think WHERE our decisions are coming from? Are we making decisions out of fear or faith?
Almost immediately after I gave birth to my second son, friends and family (and honestly, strangers too) have been asking if “we’re done” or if we plan on having more children. My response was always the same: “We want more, but not until both of these two are out of diapers. I’m afraid to risk three boys this close in age.”
I was living on an automated decision based on fear. In the very moment I realized I was using the word “afraid” in my response, a switch flipped, instantly I had no reasoning to not have more children at a sooner time.
What made me think I couldn’t handle three boys? Fear. My history with anxiety.
How to tell if our decisions are fear based
Some decisions we make after carefully weighing the pros and cons, others we make on impulse, even some we consult a close friend on.
To discern whether or not your decisions have been based on fear we first have to look at your reasoning for the decision you made.
Let’s take quitting a workout plan for example. I’d have to think WHY I gave it up. Was it too difficult, did I need a lower level program? Was it not right for my lifestyle or for my body?
Did I quit because I was afraid to fail? Sometimes we give up on things before we can fail them. It’s like dropping a class in college because an INCOMPLETE looks a whole lot better for our GPA than a big fat F.
Or did I quit because I was afraid to succeed? Sometimes we are so set in the ways of who we are right now, the idea of change is unsettling. We get close to the things we want and we get scared. What happens if I succeed at this?
Fear continually seeps into our lives any way it can
I’ll be honest, I gave up training for a half marathon three years in a row. I had an excuse every time: I had bad knees, the shin splints hurt, I got pregnant, I’d just had a baby a few months before. *This specific race also had a 5k walk/run option. At three months postpartum I could have easily walked this as I was already back to regular physical activities but I let it be an excuse not to. I also could have walked it while 8 months pregnant two years before.
Here I am training for that same race, determined to run the full 13 miles. And here I am trying to talk myself out of it again. I’ve already pushed past the shin splints, my knee hasn’t bothered me, my body has fully recovered from my last birth and no current pregnancy in sight. Yet here I am, talking myself out of the training. And why?
I’m scared of the hard work and commitment. If I run my 20 minutes this week, I have to do 30 next week… the commitment keeps growing and it’s terrifying me. But because the decision to end my training would be 100% based on a silly fear, I will press on, however reluctantly.
We have to move past the fears and the struggles. We have to push through. We have to keep moving forward.
Sometimes fear based decisions are the smart decisions
I do want to say, there is a level of healthy fear we should live our life with. Self preservation is important and we should definitely avoid situations that might physically injure us or kill us.
Those are not the kinds of decisions I’m telling you to stop making. I want you to live our life to the fullest because you deserve that, and you can’t do that if you’re dead.
How to stop making fear based decisions
Put to death that voice that tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough.
- Realize your decisions are fear centered. When we know the core thoughts and feelings at the center of our decisions we can better understand why we’ve made that decision.
- Weigh the danger. Ask what are you afraid of? If the fear has anything to do with you not being strong enough, smart enough or good enough, ditch that reasoning. You ARE enough, and whatever you do lack you can gain. If you need to be stronger, get stronger. If you need to be smarter, study up. You can do what you put your mind to!
- Decide to be brave. Courage and bravery are decisions that don’t come naturally to all of us. We have to make the decision to be brave and to turn from fear and go after what we want. Not because we aren’t afraid, but because we won’t let the fear stop us. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you.
“Be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NLT