As I said last time, you were born self-confident. When you were a baby, you didn’t stop yourself from exploring your world.
If you have children, you know that this is true. Toddlers get into everything.
And well-meaning parents and guardians, while attempting to keep their children safe, unfortunately, undermine their natural self-confidence and teach them to fear.
How Fear Is Taught
Humans aren’t born with the same instinct that runs through the rest of the animal kingdom that basically tells them what to do and what not to do.
Our nature is to explore, to determine what we want and don’t want, and then to create our environment to reflect our desires.
For the most part, other species adapt to their environments rather than create them. Sure, beavers can build elaborate dams and ants remarkable tunnels, but animals aren’t going to build a rocket ship and send it to the moon. They don’t have the same capacity as we do to create — or destroy — their environment.
During their explorations, children can get themselves into all kinds of dangerous situations.
They’ll put their hand on a hot stove. They’ll walk into water that’s over their head. They’ll climb tall trees and towers.
Since there’s only so much a parent can do to protect their children, they teach their kids to protect themselves by programming fear into them. A few of these fear-inducing messages include:
“No, don’t do that.”
“You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“You need to stay safe,” etc.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. Of course, you have to protect your children. You have to cover sharp corners and warn them of the real dangers in the world.
You just want to make sure that the balance of confidence-nurturing messages outweighs the fear-inducing ones.
What is the child hearing more of as they go through those formative years before they get into adulthood? That is the issue.
For instance, when I was growing up, 99% of what I was taught was what not to do, as opposed to being taught what I could do.
Fear Becomes a Habit
If fear messages are programmed into you more than confidence messages, you develop anxieties, worries, concerns.
All the reasons why you can’t do something are programmed into your little mind, and fear becomes a habit.
As you start to become an adult, you observe the world you’re stepping into through the lens of fear, approaching all opportunities with an attitude of caution instead of courage and confidence.
For example, you might look for a job that offers the most security, as opposed to something you would enjoy.
Instead of thinking what you will do, create, be, or even overcome, in order to make your mark in the world, you’re thinking how you can keep yourself safe.
Those two very different mindsets inform every choice you make, and create drastically different lives.
So the million-dollar question, which I’ll return to next time, is this: What was the approach of the people who raised you?
Were you predominantly taught what you could do or what you could not do?
Was your natural confidence nurtured and affirmed? Or were you taught to fear?