The Fear Weed in the Garden of Success

  • Someday Lesson: Fear often leads us to create the outcome that we fear the most.

Afroswede on Flickr.comFear can be an insidious little weed that camouflages itself and then chokes out and kills all the plants in your emotional and mental garden. And just when you think you’ve uprooted it all, you see the garden in a different light and realize that what you thought was a pretty ground cover is actually a noxious weed that’s not letting the real flowers sprout.

  • What seems like concern for the feelings of others might really be a fear of confrontation or rejection.
  • A fear of failure might disguise itself as a love for planning and list-making.
  • Or, the tendency to ask for many opinions or feedback from others might hide a fear of decisions or a lack of confidence.

Caring for others, planning, and soliciting feedback all sound like good things, so how can I call them noxious weeds? Let’s start with the idea that a weed is merely a plant in the wrong place and in too abundant a quantity.

Therefore, yes caring for others is a good thing, but not to the point that you smother what’s growing within you. Same with planning and feedback – great in the place, but they should not block action. If they do, then they are weeds.

Not sure what I mean? Let’s look at an example…

Say you’ve decided you want to start eating in a healthier manner. You have a genera idea that means more fruits and vegetable and fewer fatty and processed foods. However, you don’t feel confident changing your eating habits without knowing some details.

Fair enough. Asking for help is a good thing, definitely.

So you ask your sister what she does (she’s into this kind of thing) and she tells you about this amazing book she just read and shoves a copy into your hands. You read it and the book seems to make sense to you and you think about trying it out but your sister has always been a bit fad-crazy, so you ask a friend who is a gym-nut. She says that the book is total rubbish and that studies have shown it can cause long-term health problems. She tells to throw the book out and gives you a copy of the meal plan she uses.

Great! Here’s something concrete from someone who knows what she’s doing. You’re later telling a colleague about this near miss and saying how excited you are about the new plan. He asks to see the diet and tells you that unless you’re doing an hour and a half a day of heavy workouts, this diet will only pack on the pounds, which is totally not what you wanted. He sends you to a nutrition website run by his favorite magazine.

Now you’re getting depressed. So far you’ve put four different plan(t)s in the soil and haven’t cared for any one of them. The flower you really wanted to grow (a generally healthy diet) is getting strangled by the three other plans you’ve let grow up around the first.

About this time, your annual medical checkup comes around and you go to the doctor who tells you: just eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer fatty and processed foods.


Instead of going to the doctor (the expert) in the first place, you let yourself get distracted by the advice of others who looked at your situation from within their perspective only. Your fear of making a wrong decision led you away from what your intuition told you was the right choice.

Likewise your fear of upsetting someone can lead to actually upsetting them more and your fear of missing a detail in your actions can lead to not acting at all.

In what other situations do you think we plan the weeds of fear?

Tagged , , ,

10 thoughts on “The Fear Weed in the Garden of Success

  1. Andy Hayes says:

    Great metaphor. The more time to spend cultivating your garden the better the results. But you have to know what kind of flowers you want and what grows best in your climate πŸ™‚

    Andy Hayes´s last blog post..Photo Essay: Reflections

  2. “A fear of failure might disguise itself as a love for planning and list-making.”

    Get out of my mind, Alex Fayle!!

    I liked the gardening metaphor. To me, any plant that’s growing where you don’t want it to grow is a weed. I’m a highly subjective gardener.

    Catherine Cantieri, Sorted´s last blog post..Taming Time: Procrastination

  3. frootbat31 says:

    Wow. What a wonderful post! This really hits it home for me. I’ve been reading “Feel the Fear…Do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers and the little fear demons can wreak havoc with our self esteem and our full potential.
    This is a wonderful post- I Stumbled you and added it to Twitter too.

  4. Srinivas Rao says:

    This is a very insightful post. Fear of disappointing others leads to no action to fix the problem you set out to solve. Sometimes too many options is not a good thing.

    Srinivas Rao´s last blog post..Chose a day of peace

  5. hey alex!

    man, your example about wanting to eat healthy, asking a sister about the book and her rejecting it is waaaay too familiar – even just on observation. everybody is an authority on something πŸ™‚ kinda a case of “take my advice, i don’t use it anyway” a lot of the time πŸ™‚

    …i definitely agree with you about how that kind of situation turns into complete inaction, but i think it’s more the mentality or “mental program” that you’re pointing to that’s important to note and correct. and that’s a lack of belief that change is possible. i check out loads of resources in everything that i want to improve on but no matter what – from seeing it in myself time and time again – i know that i’ll be able to do, learn and be anything. if somebody else can do it then so can i. one of the most important lessons i’ve learned in fact.

    inspiring stuff.

    gave it a stumble πŸ™‚

    all the best
    alex – unleash reality

  6. Patricia says:

    I am posting a book review on Wed. about healthy eating, and it is a book that was not a weed, but confirmed that the soil I was growing my change on was rich and fertile ground. New ways to look at my own ideas and knowledge and use them better. Made me more weed resistant
    This was a great metaphor and I liked this post – perfect timing.

    Alex could you come over to my blog and see if we have created the right affiliate icon for your book? My IT person had some trouble with it?
    Thank you

    Patricia´s last blog post..What is Marriage?

  7. Alex Fayle says:

    Good extension of the metaphor – yes we have to know what works for us in our current situation or we’ll end up working really hard to produce a hideous garden.

    I think planning and list-making is the security blanket of Professional Organizers because it makes us feel like we’re being organized and productive when we’re really just avoiding stuff.

    I’m going to go look up that book – sounds like a great resource. Thanks! (and thanks for the Stumble and Twitter connection)

    Marketing studies over and over have shown that too many options is definitely not a good thing – and that includes life choices. We need to narrow things down if we want to find success, for sure.

    You’re right. Without a belief that we can change, no matter what resources, help or desire we have, we’ll stay exactly as we are. (thanks as well for the Stumble).

    There’s nothing better than finding a resource that confirms exactly what we believed possible (it’s like having a plant in the garden that we don’t know quite what it is and then finding it highlighted in a gardening magazine as a prized flower).

  8. Absolutely love the story that you created around this topic! I think most of us are trained to spend much of our time figuring out problems in our minds, when the answers are usually in our “gut.” Just from my experience, listening to our intuition takes practice, but it’s almost always the right way to go when making choices, even if our heads seem to rationalize the various options to validate our fears.

    Laura Cococcia´s last blog post..Laura Interviews The Clientele’s Alasdair MacLean

  9. Alex Fayle says:

    And the great thing about learning to pay attention to our intuition: it knows when we don’t have enough information to make a decision and tells us to go find more so we don’t even have to worry about making uninformed decisions!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: