The 2:1 formula

Part 3 of the »How to handle your fears« series

There are two major forces making take us action, you may call them the big motivators. They direct us toward something as well as away from something – they are all about directions in our life. The first one utilizes our wishes, dreams, desires to make us stand up from our sofas and do something in order to get whatever it is, that we want. Anything we like can be a positive motivator. One notices a poster announcing a football match and instantly feels inspired to buy a ticket, another one sees a cake when window shopping and immediately enters the bakery in order to get one and a third one may be so inspired by listeninng to a gifted musician that he decides to learn to play an instrument himself. All these different things have one in common: they make us move towards them.

Quince fruit

However there are negative motivators, too, that can be as strong or even stronger than their positive counterparts. For example when you are afraid of heights, you will certainly not climb the platform on top of the Kölner Dom, the famous church in Cologne. Or you may refuse eating fish after a serious fish poisoning. Or once you caught a serious cold, you may never again go out without wearing a big pullover in winter. The negative motivators make us avoid things that could cause damage. They make us move away from something.

Both make us do something, the difference between them is the direction: one moves us towards something we desire, the other moves us away from something we fear. Both are strong and reliable. Sometimes when we feel stuck this is the result of the both motivators fighting each other: one desperately longs for the cake – the other one as desperately as the first reminds us of our overweight. Quince and Scleranthus offer a solution from that stuck state.


Motivation in fact is the strongest when they both work together instead of fighting each other. When I fear the place I am and at the same time desire to be elsewhere – let us take the opposites of loneliness and the desire of being loved, you get the strongest motivation to do something that gets you from A to B.

In case only one of both motivators works the results will be not the same. Let us say you are afraid of failing with your exam, this may motivate you to just learn as much as it needs to get through it. However if you really long for that wonderful job you need a better result and put more effort in your studies.

So many patients suffer from the very same problem: they know exactly what they do not want, but can hardly imagine what they really do want. I do not want to be afraid. But what then? What shall fill in that gap the disappeared fear is going to leave? And beyond that: is that really the best solution to wipe out fear from your emotional repertoire? What else will keep you from driving on the wrong side of the highway or doing any other mischievous and risky nonsense? We all know that fear is not a very comfortable emotion, but it works very successfully.


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