Why Fear Is a Bad Motivation Choice

Has your boss ever threatened you that if you don’t do what it takes to get the job done you will be fired? Have you tried to quit smoking out of fear for your health? Have you ever started a strict diet because you were afraid of what your body would look like with these extra kilos?

If the answer to one of the questions above is yes this means that you have used fear as a motive for you to do something.

Fear is something normal and it is related to human nature. Actually, fear could be thought of as a defense mechanism that can alert us in case of possible danger.

If we see someone pointing a gun at us, fear would alert us to react in some way. We might for example scream, start running away, finding someplace to cover ourselves, attack the possible shouter or even freeze out of fear.

Although acting sometimes out of fear could turn out in a positive outcome, there are several other times that fear based motivation does not seem to work that good.

Fear Based Motivation in Workplace Environment

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Fear used to be a well-known practice in workplace environments, and in some cases it still is. It was a common belief that managers had to evoke fear in their employees in order to achieve better performance, faster and better results.

Employees out of fear of losing their job or being replaced to a specific position by someone else would strive themselves to make it happen. But what would the outcome be for an employee if he / she had to work constantly in an environment that is based in this kind of fear?

This kind of working environment is absolutely toxic and negative and nobody would be willing to spend his / her life in one. It is the kind of environment that actually inspires people to escape from.

This fear based tactics might provide short term results but long term the employees would be unhappy, full of stress and negativity and they will possibly deal with burnout. Fear could lead employees to panic, loss of their creativity and imagination and loss of their ability to learn.

Employees sooner or later would decide to explore their options and realize that there are also other choices available.

Unfortunately, hardly ever, employers understand that their tactic is wrong. They usually think that it was something that employees did wrong and that is why they decide to leave.

“There is a quarter century of research that shows how people feel at work has a direct and powerful influence on how they perform.”

Sigal Barsade

Fear Based Motivation for Better Health

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We all know stories of people who found out that their health is in danger if they continue smoking, continue having an unhealthy lifestyle, eating junk food and don’t exercising at all. In some cases they might even have had a near death experience, like a stroke or had to fight with cancer and finally recovered.

People who go through something like this, at least at the beginning, are passionate about changing their lifestyle and do what it takes to protect themselves. Out of fear of what might happen if they don’t they start exercising, watching after their diet and quit all their bad habits.

Fear in this case works as a motivator, and works well enough to start doing good things for themselves for few weeks or even months. But only that. Fear is an effective motivator for short term period while results only come long term.

Fear alone is not able to inspire motivation in long term and that is because fear when lasts for too long tires you and makes you want to give up on your goals.

Alternative Approaches to Fear Based Motivation

1. Hope

The “if you don’t do this you will get fired” could be easily replaced with “If you have this ready on time you might get a bonus – a raise – a promotion”. The first sentence evokes fear which results to negativity and stress. The second sentence evokes hope which results to positive emotions. Hope can breed happiness and confidence.

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2. Love

 While fear might put you on the move to start something it will not help you keep going. Love on the other hand could prove to be the fuel that can keep the motive alive and help you keep moving. Quitting a bad habit because you love yourself and want the best for him is healthier than quitting it because you are afraid of a stroke, cancer or bad body looks.

woman doing heart sign indicating love
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3. Joy and Pleasure

Whatever it is that you use fear to motivate you try to find something that actually offers you joy and find pleasure in it. If the fear of bad health motivates you to exercise, find a form of exercise that you enjoy like dancing or even just walking. If you need to start eating healthier discover healthy foods that you like, yes there are some of those! 

Doing something out of fear or just because we have to will never offer us the passion needed to stay committed. Only if you start enjoying the changes in your life you will keep them long term.

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Conclusion

Fear is necessary to motivate you to protect yourself in case of danger, but fear is not a good motive when it comes to life goals or career goals. For long term goals fear based motivation sets you in a condition of constant fear and stress that could harm your body and mind.

Fear based motivation is strongly related to negative thinking. This means that is focused on the wrong thing or on what could go wrong. This kind of thinking prevents us from looking at the bright side of things, at what is right or what might go great.

We are afraid of the outcome while we could anticipate for it. Things might go wrong, but things might also go great. Why should we focus on the negative and not see the bigger picture instead?

“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”

William James

If you liked this post you might also like to read my post about negative thoughts or my post on how to overcome fears.

I would like to read your thoughts on this. Have you ever used fear based motivation for a long term goal? How did it go?

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Stop Avoiding Your Negative Thoughts – Learn How To Handle Them

Are you one of those who often start thinking of the worst case scenario for every single thing? Do you sometimes think that others believe the worst about you? You think that everything is either black or white and there is nothing in between? Do you let small things bother you and think about them for hours, days or longer?

Well, if your answer was yes to some of the above questions then you have negative thoughts.

I know what you might say. Who is this person who doesn’t have any negative thoughts?

The answer is simple. Nobody.

We all have negative thoughts and that is absolutely normal.

The thing is that thoughts are just thoughts and nothing more than that.

Scientists and researchers would oppose this opinion since it has been proved that thoughts interfere with the way our brain works and cause us bad feelings and emotions. Yes, thoughts can be the reason behind lots of mental and physical problems in the end. I do not disagree with that. I even admit it as a fact.

woman on the floor embracing her knees due to negative thoughts
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Thoughts do live in our head and the bad thing is that sometimes we all spend more time living inside our heads than in real life.

Sometimes thoughts are just like feelings. They come and go and they may mean something or may mean nothing at all.

I don’t know about you but for me there are those days that I wake up in a really bad mood and I just don’t have the courage to have any positive thoughts. I don’t feel like lying to myself that this day is going to be a great day. I am in my blues but I know that this is just a day and not my life. I just accept the fact that these days exist and I watch my thoughts. Yes, even the negative ones.

Below are some of the things that I choose to do to cope with negative thoughts and may be helpful to you also. I am not a professional, so these are just my suggestions as a person who deals with negative thinking from time to time. In case your negative thoughts are persistent you should consider asking for professional help.

How to Handle Your Negative Thoughts

1. Accept the Thought

Do not try to avoid or push back your negative thought. Try to understand it and accept the feelings that this thought causes to you. Give this thought some time to stay with you and embrace the feelings that are caused by it. Even if it makes you feel sad or angry, feel the sadness or the anger for some time and let it go away. It is just a thought, there is no reason to stay with you forever.

2. Be Honest with Yourself

Do not try to force yourself to turn a negative thought into a positive one. Your mind is smart enough to realize that you are trying to play with it.

If it is one of those days that you feel like a loser and your thoughts are like “I am a total failure”, “I will never make it in anything” do not say “I am the best” or “Whatever I do is perfect”. It would be more honest to say “I am smart enough and I try my best and that is enough”.

Trying to stop a negative thought and turn it into a completely positive one could even have the worst results. In some cases people who try to push anxious and negative thoughts down only manage to build them stronger until they all explode or come rushing out at once.

3. Share your Thoughts

If you feel like a negative thought returns again and again try to share it with someone close to you. When we talk about something that lives in our head we have to let it come out in words. Even translating our thoughts into words and hearing them provides us with another perspective of them. Not to mention that someone close will also offer us his / her perspective.

4. Be Kind with Yourself

During the days you feel bad and your mind is full with negative thoughts try to be kind with yourself. Make yourself a priority, try to work less hours or less hard than usual. Choose to spend the rest of your day doing things that make you happy like playing with your children or watching a movie that makes you laugh. You name it!

woman and daughter playing and laughing
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5. Take Care of Yourself

This includes your physical and mental health. Watch your diet. Junk food is ok once in a while but making it a habit is not. Make sure you have enough sleep and find a way to work out that you actually enjoy. A healthy body makes us feel good and positive about ourselves, contributing to a better mental health.

6. Connect with the Right People

Make your small community of people the community you want to be a part of. Get rid of people who put you down or make you feel miserable. You don’t need toxic people. Keep your loved ones close, enroll in activities that offer you joy, join the team you always wanted to. Enjoy your life with those you want to.

group of people gathered around, a small community of multiethnic people
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Conclusion

Negative thoughts are normal. We all have them and there is no reason to be afraid of them or to try to prevent them. We cannot stop negative thoughts from coming or choose not to have them, but we can change the way we deal with them and what else we choose to think of. After all negative thoughts are just thoughts, we don’t have to believe them.

I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains“.

Anne Frank

How about you?

How do you feel about your negative thoughts?

How do you choose to deal with them?