What is the primary motivation for your actions, love or fear?
We want love, yet our actions are often driven by fear. We are driven by fear to create things that we expect will bring us, love.
Maybe people think that is not true. They say, “I have clear objectives, for example, a title I deserve, the degree I am working hard on, my wellbeing, a good partnership before turning a certain age, the number of countries I’d like to travel to, etc.”.
Those are beautiful desires that keep us moving forward.
Fear can be sneaky and works quite well when we are just starting, e.g., building our social status and learning know-how.
The default motivation I grew up with was fear. Fear-based motivation sounded like encouragement. Something like
“If you don’t study well, you will lack the respect of others,”
“If you don’t work hard, you will earn little and live poorly,”
“If you don’t care about your skin and body, no man will want you.”
You know what, it worked.
Like many of my peers, I believed we could build a life we loved and that we were well deserving due to our adherence to the rules of the game. Meanwhile, the teachers and parents kept reminding us, “Be modest,” “Don’t celebrate too early, ” and “You are not there yet.”
I believed that love and celebration would eventually come. “Until then,” I’d say to myself, “don’t enjoy your life yet, and keep moving on to the next goal.”
What I observe in people with high stress is that they say they want peace. However, peace is somewhere in the future associated with achievement. They say, “It is okay that I am anxious now because I will be peaceful or satisfied when I reach the goal.” They let an imagined future state determine the present moment. That is the typical pattern of being driven by fear.
How does this work out? If we keep allowing ourselves to be motivated by fear, even if the goal is achieved, our default state is to look for the next target, which keeps us anxious, fearful, and chasing peace in the future. In short, we keep the same pattern going. The pattern feels familiar psychologically and creates a false safety.
People motivated by fear rarely experience ease and pleasant feelings in their bodies. Their inner talk sounds like this:
“The good moments won’t last long, so it is not worth feeling good.”
“Someone will look at me differently if I celebrate what I have now.”
“I will be lazy if I feel good about what I have gotten so far.”
“I am too much.”
“How can I celebrate myself when many other people in the world are suffering?”
This fearful thinking happens in the workspace and the bedroom.
If we change the context to the bedroom, one could be anxious because they don’t have the intimacy, pleasure, or orgasm they expect or feel bored because they can’t identify the next goal to keep them excited.
Excluding any physical reasons, mental stress and anxiety is the top killer of intimacy. Intimacy is the place where we can’t pretend to be present. We can’t perform from fearful thinking. The body doesn’t lie.
What is the antidote to fear-driven actions?
Jumping from fear to love doesn’t happen all at once. It takes a few steps in between. It starts with being neutral to feeling good in your body. Neutral is a step up from feeling fear. Acknowledge that feeling good at present is the pathway to feeling great in the future.
The next thing you may add daily is to pay attention to what brings joy to your five senses. E.g., What smell makes you relaxed? What flavor do you like to drink? What color energizes you?
Begin to connect to more of the elements of your surroundings. You will be surprised that a 2% increase in enjoyment will make a vast difference over time. How can I better enjoy the moment even 2% more?
How does this idea apply to intimacy?
The five-senses work wonderfully in intimate connection. What scent calms you down? What music do you like to hear to get out of your head? Where in your body do you want to be touched? Do you want a firm or soft touch? What type of touch feels pleasant at the moment?
Intimacy starts with how well you feel in your body and then how openly you can communicate what you notice in you with your partner.
The springboard of switching from fear-driven actions to love-driven actions is to notice what feels good in your body and surroundings at the moment, connect with them, and turn up the volume by 2% each time.