I Hope You’re Afraid, Very Afraid

3 08 2010

Hope VS Fear

Which is more damaging?  Well at first glance I suspect most would say the answer is obvious, to the point of wondering why someone would even bother posing the question.  But think about it a little more, yes the obvious answer is that hope brings positive things to your life and fear is solidly negative.  But is it really that simple?

Perhaps I need to make something clear first.   I’m not talking about dire situation, like mid war or holocaust, I’m talking about normal everyday life.  In those kinds of situations, obviously hope is a motivator, when everything is dark it’s a shining light.  But how often is the average person faced with that kind of situation?  In my lifetime?  Never, how about you?  My money is still on never.  So that perspective is irrelevant, now let’s look at a normal life.  Everything is good or fine, or even fantastic.  We have all the essentials, and for most of us nothing to really strive for, or to push us forward.

Think on this for a moment.  Fear is the greatest motivator of all time.  Why do you go to work every day, save money, put away for retirement, try to eat healthily, exercise?  The list goes on, brush your teeth, wear sun screen, not go out late at night alone, etc.  Fear, it all boils down to fear, sure there may be some out there that maintain it’s due to ‘common sense’ or that they just happen to have higher morals, values and whatnot, but I’m calling bullshit on that.  I can say that I do what I do for better reasons, but if I’m being honest most of it is because I’m afraid of something.  I fear losing my teeth, getting really overweight and sick, becoming old and unable to be active and take care of myself.  I don’t want to get raped or robbed, I’m afraid of these things, so I change and modify my behavior too prevent them.

Am I alone in this?  Seems doubtful given what I have heard and observed from those around me.  I think if you examined your true motives in many of the things you do.. you’ll find you do them out of fear, fear of the alternative, fear of what will happen if you don’t.  Most people I know who have quit smoking, quit due to some sort of frightening wake up call.  Take my sister for example, now I don’t remember why or when she quit smoking, but I do remember her gaining a lot of weight.  Every year she got more and more unhealthy, and BAM her doctor said “look, you need to do something about this, you’re getting sick, you could die.”    She had a choice.  Would she have become the hottie health nut she is today is she hadn’t been afraid?  I highly doubt it.

Why do people go out and fight wars, kill each other?  Fear.  It may not be pretty, it may not always be good but fear is one of the strongest motivators out there.  I believe it can be harnessed, used it as a tool.  Too many people are crippled by their fear, but perhaps they are just not afraid enough?  They have just enough to stress them out but not enough to prod them into action.  The key is awareness and learning to use the fear to push ourselves forward.

Now let’s talk about hope.  Hope is such a nice fluffy word. And I find it to be the most insidious detrimental factor in my life.  As long as there is hope, I personally cling to the threads, hope makes all motivation that fear can provide you with moot.  Because you have hope, and hope will save you.  Hope is not going to save you.  YOU can, but hope isn’t doing shit. Too often we bank on hope, or luck or God or whatever else you proscribe to, to get us out of a bind.  What is hope?

To me hope is just an excuse, a thread to cling to to avoid moving forward.  If you let ‘it’ go then hope is lost, and we’re condition by society to believe that hope is our one last chance.  Add this to the fact that we often hope for the wrong things.  We ‘hope’ we won’t get cancer when we do every dangerous thing to make it happen.  We ‘hope’ we don’t get pregnant or and STI when we have unprotected sex.  We ‘hope’ we don’t get fired when we fuck up at work.  We ‘hope’ we get that job, that we win the race, that we win the lottery, achieve our goals.  It sounds so nice, doesn’t it?  But what does hoping actually achieve? Does it in anyway move us forward toward said goals and achievements.  Does ‘hoping’ I don’t get pregnant or sick actually prevent it from happening?  Is hope alone enough to push us to do something about it?

Here in lies the rub!  No.  Hope is a sunny happy positive thing.  Therefore for most people, most of the time, you get your hope on, and voila you have done enough.  But what if you been pushed by some kind of fear?  Would you have done more?  It seems likely as those banking on ‘hope’ tend to do nothing, I mean why make all that effort when you have hope on your side.  Fear pushes us, sometimes back, and it’ll make you hide if you let it.  But if YOU are so inclined and focused you can use it to push you forward to greater heights.

When I was younger I did many foolish and even dangerous things, hoping nothing bad would happen to me and I was lucky.  Many others have not been so lucky.  But slowly hope wasn’t doing it’s job… it wasn’t making me feel better, I was still making poor choices.  Oh sure I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I would tell myself next time I’ll be smart, responsible, and do the right thing.  I never did.

Until something happened to frighten me, a proverbial mental slap in the face, suddenly everything changed.  I was afraid, and immediately took action.

As I write this it occurs to me, that perhaps I’m an individual in this.  Maybe it really is just me, and that everyone else will be unable to relate, or disagree with my hypothesis.  And while I suspect that this is truer than most would be willing to believe or consider, I’m interesting in both sides of the coin.

What do you think?

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17 responses

3 08 2010
bowet000

Hm. Very interesting post. I agree that for the vast majority of people that fear, in enough quantity, is a larger motivator than hope. That said, because hope is a positive force, I think that there are things that you can do that positively further the things you hope for, and that is not spurred by fear.

The only good example I can think of right now, is that many people hope they will find a wonderful relationship. When they do find a good relationship, they are often afraid it will end, and hope it won’t. On the hope side of things, you can be honest with your feelings and loving and do your best to be a positive person. On the fear side of things, you become withdrawn, stressed and negative, fearing the relationship will end. Inevitably the fear reaction sparks a faster disintegration of the relationship than would otherwise happen with a hope reaction.

I think hope is useful for situations in which you have little or no control on the outcome. You put in all your efforts and hope that they will turn out the way you want.

3 08 2010
Magdalicious

Yeah that’s sort of what I meant by dire straights, you have no control.. obviously then hope does it’s thing 🙂

3 08 2010
miltownkid

Hope sound stupid to me. I can honestly say that I practically never hope for things, except for when they’re out of my control. I can’t see it being very useful (as a motivator) otherwise. Hope is like a comfort food for your emotions.

Fear… I don’t think fear is one of my motivators either. I mean… I just got a tooth pulled and now I’m on a mission to keep my teeth nice and clean. I guess one could postulate that I’m afraid of getting another one pulled. I’m not. It sucked, but it wasn’t scary. I’d just like to keep the rest of my teeth for when I’m older. Is that fear? Seems like common sense to me.

I think the two things you want to compare are desires and aversions. Not exactly the same as hopes and fears. When we desire something, we work towards it (or hope/wish it will come magically at least). When we’re averse to something, we try to avoid it (whether it’s because of fear or the desire to eat hard candies when we’re 80).

Anyhoo… That’s what came to my mind.

3 08 2010
Magdalicious

I think you’re splitting hair, pot(ay)to pat(a)to, and while I can accept your idea that aversion might be a better word than fear for many people. I still think that fear is a serious motivator when you get down to the nitty gritty a lot of what people do is because they fear the alternative.

3 08 2010
Grant Dexter

What do I think? I don’t agree. I don’t agree at all. 🙂

3 08 2010
Magdalicious

Fair enough, you’re entitled to your opinion 🙂

3 08 2010
Grant Dexter

THANKS! 😀

5 08 2010
Magdalicious

I do what I can 😛

3 08 2010
Jill

Hmmm…..
Okay, well I can certainly see your point, and agree that all of the little things each day we do to prevent something from happening… I can certainly see how putting sunscreen on can be extrapolated to fear.
Do I think that hope is worthless? Not at all. I don’t think it’s worthwhile to have unprotected sex and HOPE not to get preggers or get an STD. However, I agree with Tracey in that hope is a huge motivator. Seriously, do you think I would be starting a business without a bit of hope? I mean, I can work my ass off (which I am) and create the best business I am capable of. I can buy the insurance and make all my payments on time, out of fear of fire… of having loans taken in because I can’t pay them… The FEAR is definitely there, all around the business start up… But the HOPE is what gets me out of bed each day, excited to see if any orders came in.

3 08 2010
Magdalicious

Valid point, but I still think it’s all about the perspective.. I think I am just looking at things from a different angle. I guess it should be more a situational thing, but I often see myself and many others just ‘hoping’ for the best and I don’t think that works out.

3 08 2010
Grant Dexter

“Hope is a good thing, Red. Perhaps the best of things.”

4 08 2010
Dee

Hope is a word I do not use. I lump it in with “try”. If you hope or try, you give yourself permission to fail.

I do agree with the bits about fear. Fears are huge motivators. Hope is wishy washy and does not motivate me to action. It more seems to me that it is a passive wish, rather than an active quest, where fear gets my ass moving.

5 08 2010
Magdalicious

Yeah I somehow I knew you and I would be all fingers and eyes. I did write this deliberately to be controversial, I don’t actually think hope is useless and that fear is the cat’s meow.. it’s more that I’m playing the devil’s advocate. Casey’s point about it not being so much about fear as being adverse to something is a good one. But I also think that when it gets down to it, there’s nothing like a nice scary slap in the face. But perhaps I’m too negative of a person?

4 08 2010
Grant Dexter

Are you afraid to fail?

5 08 2010
Magdalicious

That really depends on the situation.

5 08 2010
Tarra

I think fear is also a bit of a waste of mental energy. You spend all this time afraid something is going to happen so you do whatever you can to avoid it. The biggest fear that many people have is the ultimate: death. Fear of death is such a strong motivator to get people to exercise, stop smoking, wear a helmet, etc. The thing is, doing all of that isn’t going to stop it, just like brushing your teeth obsessively isn’t going to guarantee you all your teeth when you are in your 60s and wearing a helmet isn’t going to prevent you from smashing your brain in should you be hit just right in an accident.

People need to stop fearing death like it’s some monster lurking around the corner to grab them if they stumble and accept it like the end of a movie that’s going to happen when your film runs out, no matter how good or bad the movie is. The only thing that can be changed is how you live your life. If someone wants to eliminate all carbs from their life, then so be it. But don’t do it because you think it’ll help you live longer.

All it takes is one misplaced bus to make that reason pointless.

5 08 2010
Magdalicious

True true, but I tend to be very fuck it what happens happens, my point was just that one can harness and use their fears in stead of being crippled by them.

But perhaps I have a different out look than most, I don’t really fear death, but I do try to avoid it. 😛

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