Fear or Goal Driven?

I ask the question, “why is it that media thinks that we need “fear” to motivate us to follow the right path?”

One of my (many) annoyances with media and our society is that, for some reason, we are bombarded with information filled with fear. I think of “motivational” programs that use fear, intimidation and abusive strategies to create change. I think of “news” reports that warn us of all the dangers of our choices and plant the seeds of panic into our brains. Do we really need to resort to these techniques in order to make positive changes and to keep our feet on the right path? Can goal-based thinking have the same effect?

Changing a message from fear-based to goal-based makes a big psychological shift with a huge impact on a person’s (and thus society’s) energy. Read the following phrases and pay attention to the body’s reaction to each:

  • Don’t!.. or the outcome will be this… bad news
  • Choose this… and the benefit will be this… good news.
  • Thinking in terms of positive goals and outcomes has such a different feel to it. I am reminded of a message I heard perhaps 25 years ago regarding the environment. Someone said that we shouldn’t be teaching children about the harm of contaminated water but rather about what fish, plants and people need regarding water. Think “clean and keep it clean” – goal driven.

    I am trying to imagine what our society would be like if we dropped the fear and intimidation tactics. I have to tell you that I’m having troubles envisioning this image. The negative power is so invasive in our world that I think it has wrapped itself into everything in our lives – from parenting, to success, to wearing a seat belt, to flossing our teeth.

    Giving up (for now) on trying to envision this positive world, I start to peel back the layers of why, to understand where this all comes from. I think about past styles of interacting, about the power of advertising and greed, and the effectiveness of fear and intimidation. And then I peel back another layer and I see “self-control”. Hmmm

    Self-control is a big component of this issue. The fear and intimidation strategies work because “I” think that “I” can’t reach my goals unless someone forces me to make change. “I” need big brother to make me do what is right. “I” have given away a lot of power! I want it back.

    After all this contemplating, I return to the “now” and how I choose to live my life. Awareness is always the first step. I wonder how many times in the day I use fear tactics or wait for fear tactics before making a decision? I wonder if this very blog uses fear tactics. I wonder….

    ~ Debbie, The Gathering Place

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