‍As a facilitator, I have seen the relief that unconditional acceptance brings to other human beings.

Why do many folks settle for a life of mediocrity?

Why do we, as adults, abandon the dreams of our youth? At first, there might seem like a lot of reasons for this. But if we boil all of these answers down, we will end up with one answer, one word: fear. Why does fear play such a huge roll in whom we become or what we attempt to do in this life? And more importantly, what exactly do we fear?

Cognitive behavior research tells us that we beat up ourselves on a constant basis. Not physically, but internally. Silently, with the conversations we have in our own heads.

Where did we learn to do this?

Charles Cooley would tell us that our self-image was formed between the ages of 0 and 5 years old. A self image formed from the actions and reactions of the authority figures around us, primarily our parents.

Dr. Albert Bandura would say that it was formed from the feedback of our environment—parents, peers, the world around us. From the time we are born, we are encouraged to play it safe. Don't take risks. Failing is to be avoided. We learn to tell ourselves “You’re not good enough,” or “I am too ______ to do that.” We need to be accepted. Rejection is lonely, we should avoid it at all costs. We should sell our souls to feel accepted. Do whatever we must not to be rejected.

So we build walls around ourselves. We stay in our comfort zones. Our fear-based behavior drives us to self-insulate and isolate while we wonder, “Does anyone see me?”

Why does fear play such a huge roll in whom we become or what we attempt to do in this life?
You love them through their fear.

Sure, we can put on a good act of being happy and friendly for a while.

Yet we can hear our own screams for validation and acknowledgement behind the dark and cold walls of our loneliness. I used to think I was the only one doing this. But I'm not, am I? So how do you get people to risk rejection beyond pretense? How do we validate another human being’s fear in such a way that they choose risk?

You love them through their fear. You accept them for who they are at all cost. You see them, validate them, embrace them. You allow them to borrow some of your courage, if needed.

“It might be bigger than you, and it might be bigger than me, but it is not bigger than us.”

As a facilitator, I have seen the relief that unconditional acceptance brings to other human beings. I can see it in their eyes. I have come to realize that it is not the task they fear; it is our response to their performance of the task.

Sure, the outdoor adventures I lead include some scary stuff, but that is not what’s stopping people from living, is it? That is not what is stealing our dreams away, is it? No, the only thing I have witnessed that moves us past pretense and into greatness is what we call unconditional love. Putting people into a unique environment that causes fear and creates disequilibrium, then loving on them and watching them achieve something amazing.

I get to be in the front row to see “I cant’s” turn into “I can’s” And I know the “I can’s” grow into acts of greatness.

Mark C Cripe
Veteran, Retired LASD, Author
Mark is a veteran of the US Marines and the LA County Sheriff's Department (serving on the department for 29 years). He has been recognized by the State Senate, US Congress and the Governor of California for his work in juvenile intervention. In 2013 he published a book titled Love Loudly: Lessons in Family Crisis, Communication, and Hope which won the 2013 USA Best Book Awards in the Parenting & Family category. His book documents his experiences working with families in need in Los Angeles County under the LASD program VIDA (Vital Intervention Directional Alternatives) and aims to help communication gaps and relational barriers within modern families today.