You’re Not Unmotivated — You’re Afraid

And it’s because you care about others‘ opinions more than yours

Recently John Gorman wrote a really beautiful post titled,

“You’re Not Lazy.”

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It was subtitled, “the last motivational blog post you’ll ever need.”

He was absolutely right about everything in it.

To be fair, we are often “lazy “— a body at rest will stay at rest — but that’s not actually our core problem. Because bodies in motion will stay in motion, too.

The real reason we don’t get started isn’t “motivation,” but rather:

“We’re all very fucking afraid. And the thing with fear is on a surface level it’s indistinguishable from laziness. 90% of the time it’s the former, and 90% of people will assume it’s the latter.”

He goes on to offer the solution for conquering fear. It only comes in two steps:

1. Do scary (but potentially rewarding) shit.

2. Repeat.

There is no step 3. There is no “One Weird Trick.”

He’s right. Everyone who has everything you want (or think you want) got it by taking those two steps.

But if I may, I’d like to add one additional thought — one more point to really drive his message home: the reason behind our fear, the reason we all keep grasping for other people’s authority, the reason we all think we need more information or just aren’t ready yet:

We care way too much what other people think.

…And not nearly enough about what WE want.

The reason we’re afraid is because we perceive “threats,” and most often those “perceived threats” are other people, directly or indirectly.

Either we’re afraid of people’s opinions directly (admitting failure to our friends, or what they’ll think of our change) or we’re afraid of them indirectly (i.e., we’re afraid of a loss of income, in part, because we’re afraid of losing our social standing.)

We care more about our security in society than we do about honoring what we want, or we “define” what “we” want by abstracting it, bastardizing it, bundling it up in what would impress other people. (We also often care more about making up things that we think “sound impressive” than we do about actually doing them — very often because we are more delighted by the idea (and how it “sounds”) than the reality.)

So, there’s another half to the solution, besides “doing scary (but potential rewarding) shit, and then repeating?” The part of the solution that comes just before step 1 and step 2…

  • Figure out the “scary (but potential rewarding) shit” that actually speaks to us — not our egos, or how it “sounds” or “looks” or “compares,” but the way it feels.
  • If that’s hard, then before that: we have to discern ourselves — not our egos or sense of selves through the lens of others, or external factors like money or social standing, but how we feel.
  • And if that’s hard, then before all of that: we have to care more about ourselves (and our opinions, feelings, thoughts) than we do about other people and theirs.

And you’ll note that there’s two parts to that last one:

  1. Stop prioritizing other people’s opinions. Gary Vee shares a lot about “not giving a fuck what others think of you.” And he’s right.
  2. But the other half of that? We actually have to fill in the void. Because nature abhors a vacuum, and if you only focus on “not caring what other people think,” without caring about what you want, you’re going to end up letting their opinions flow back in. We have to actively invest in our interests. Which means we have to know what they are.

The reason we care more about other people’s opinions over our own is because it’s easier. It’s safer. And it’s been taught to us since we were born.

The reason we don’t know what we want is because it’s harder. And scarier. And it goes against everything we were taught. (Not least of which: “want” is based on feelings, so if you’re repressing your own and instead basing your “wants” on others, you’re gonna have a bad time. You’ll never know what you want without understanding your feelings.)

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When we do that, and do it for real, “being afraid” won’t be factor. If we’re “afraid,” it’s because we’re not honoring ourselves somewhere. It’s not about “forcing” ourselves, because if we know what we want and we care more about our true needs than other people, then “fear” will be quieted a bit and pursuing what we want won’t be as “scary,” tuned out by the incessant internal engine in our ear.

And once we get there, then it’s just a matter of just pursuing it.

Over and over.

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