Five Clues That Your Decisions Are Based on Fear

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The Negative Self

The only way out, is through.Once you’re aware that certain types of fear are more likely to occur in relationship situations and you accept how insidious they can be. You can begin to watch for clues that your decisions are being based on fearful thinking (as opposed to clear thinking).

Here are five things that are often signs of fear-based decisions.

1. Decisions “away from” things instead of toward goals

We can spend our lives running away from things or running toward them. The distinction may seem trivial, but on a subconscious and symbolic level these things matter greatly.

If you are in a bad relationship, you can choose to get out of it to avoid continued pain and unhappiness. This is all good and fine. But a more positive and active way of looking at it would be to get out of it to achieve more joy and comfort.

Fear feeds our negativity more than almost anything else. It makes us want to avoid things, but does not encourage us to more toward better things.

We may want to get out of a relationship because we think it’s the wrong one to be in. But if fear is behind that perception–if we’re afraid of how connected we feel to that other person or are doubtful we’ll be able to live up to what we think they expect of us–there’s a good chance we’re getting out of a good thing to go… nowhere fast.

Set your goals and always move toward them. If something goes bad, pay attention to how your mind frames it… and then check that against your goals.

2. Massive Procrastination

It’s no secret that people don’t like to do things that make them uncomfortable. Those things that scare us–that produce anxiety and threaten panic–make us really go out of our way to put things off.

If you find yourself cleaning the house rather than having an important conversation with your significant other, ask yourself what you’re afraid will come of that conversation. Face the root of your actions. Those fears–especially when it comes to communicating with a partner–will keep you from chances to fix things that my be salvageable or keep you from seeing the true nature of the situation you are in (good or bad).

The more out of our way we’ll go to not do something, the more we’re probably afraid of it on a very deep level. If it’s something we’re really dreading (like a breakup or a proposal), it may take a lot of hard work to get up the courage to face that fear and go forward with what you know is right.

3. Easily Swayed Decisions

While it is a powerful, subversive force in our lives, fear lacks a solid base to stand on when attacked directly. If you’ve committed to a course of action but find yourself not only deeply questioning your motives at every turn, but regularly going back on your decision, fear is most certainly involved.

The tricky part with this one is that it works the other way, too. If your fear is strong enough, it will make you constantly question even your best decisions and stop you from completing them (mostly through the above-mentioned procrastination).

Whenever you find yourself flip-flopping in your resolve, take a hard look at what’s making you do that. Is it your better nature fighting back against fear-based decisions? Or is it fear trying to stop you moving out of its grasp?

4. Unreasonable Sacrifice

If you continue to force yourself along a fear-based path–not listening to those questions raised by yourself and others–you can very easily end up making huge sacrifices that will gain you little or nothing in return.

Always ask yourself what your goal is. Then compare that to the price you will pay to achieve it. Look closely and honestly at the costs and benefits of your actions. And be sure to look at what it is you will gain–not as much at what you will lose.

For example, by getting out of a relationship, you may lose that one person who has been there for you. Surely that’s something that has more than a little fear attached to it (change always does). But by not getting out of it–by choosing to stay in it, even though you’ve decided to go–you may instead be gaining another year or three of unhappiness or abuse. If you are willing to sacrifice a possible positive unknown for a guaranteed bad known, chances are fear is behind your choice to give up so much for the cold comfort of the status quo.

5. Bad Gut Feeling

Because fear works so thoroughly on the mind, it’s not always easy to “think through” it. Our perceptions can be skewed by our negative spirals. Our logic derailed by panic and dread. Given time, we can justify anything, no matter how much it will cost us, if it will keep us from having to face that which we fear.

Deep down, though, we all know what is right and best for us. That deep voice will try it’s darndest to speak up–sometimes literally shouting over the chaos of our minds. It’ll give us hints in our dreams. It’ll throw physical symptoms at us (that good fluttery feeling when we’re on the right track, maybe something as strange as a sneezing fit when we start to stray).

That voice works symbolically, so be familiar with your own personal symbolism and make note of it when something comes up.

If you’ve cultivated that deep voice, you can not only find direction from it, you can find strength to fight against the fear that is manipulating you and holding you back.

All five of these clues come down to being mindful of why you’re doing what you are. Once you’re aware, then you can take responsibility and take action.

What signs have you seen in your own life that you’re making fear-based decisions?

Series NavigationThree Types of Fear5 Ways to Deal With Your Negative Self
  • To your credit, I spent more than half a day thinking to myself, “I bet there are a couple of more points that I could add to the list,” but haven’t been able to find one that isn’t in some way related to what you already have here. Great article! A friend of mine pointed me to this, and I’m glad that he did.

    On a related note, but looking from the other side, it’s always surprised me how there are people, “victims” of abusive relationships, who actually seek to maintain the status quo because it forms a sort of comfort zone for them. But, you’ve already kind of talked about that.

    Thank you for this article. It’s a good place to begin to take a look at oneself. An honest look, that is.

    • Anonymous

      Glad it struck the proper chord with you.

      I actually found it a little difficult to come up with those five points–much more difficult than I thought it would be when I first planned the post. Mostly because, like you said, so many things have that bit of overlap in them.

      Honest looks are the only ones that make for positive change. It’s what we should all be working toward every moment.

      • So true! If ever there was something to “shout from a mountain top” this is it.

  • Kristin

    Thank you for writing this post. Extremely helpful. It brings a bit of ease to me where you noted that our minds throw physical symptoms at us, whatever it may be. I’ve had newly discovered ibs and muscle aches symptoms which tend to arise in “ultra” stressing times. Would you say that when your are going through a transition in your life, like going back to school or living in a foreign place would create this FEAR to arise – because you are “growing”? Thanks again for the nurturing post 🙂

    • Glad you found it helpful.

      All change brings with it a certain anxiety, unease, or outright fear. It comes not from growing, but from being in a position to grow. Every time we choose to push forward, we leave behind who we were and become someone new–sometimes in more dramatic ways than others. It’s a chance for rebirth.

      That’s not to say that we lose who we were. Everything we’ve ever done, everyone we’ve ever been, is still a part of us. Over time and iterations, though, those old bits are just that: Parts of us, not the whole they once were.

      I hope your physical symptoms are brought under control, if not completely eliminated, as you ease in to the new you you’re in the process of creating.

  • Con Stephen Ghitgas

    What if people don’t have the strength to face their fears?

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