The Fear in Your Life

What are you afraid of? Come on – look – there’s nobody else here. You’re not fearless, nobody is. Even if you can’t admit your fears to anyone else, you can admit them to yourself. Where is the fear in your life? What are you afraid of?



Fear in your Life
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”   – H. P. Lovecraft

The Different Kinds of Fear

Most experts classify fears as either rational, or irrational. Rational fears are generally of something that can have real negative consequences. Loss of reputation, pain, and death – these are some examples of possible consequences of a rational fear. For a rational fear, there is genuine danger that you’re seeking to avoid. Many rational fears are good and healthy – they keep you wary and out of harm’s way.

Irrational fears are those that are self-created and self-perpetuated, and generally the possibility of any real negative consequence is negligible or impossible. These are often the limiting fears that we find in our lives. Fear of rejection, fear of failure – fears like these most often take the form of an irrational fear. But the line between rational and irrational can be blurred.

For example – a fear of public speaking can be both. If you are giving a lecture in front of many leaders in your field, a truly abysmal performance could damage your reputation or your credibility – that would be a real negative consequence for you. You might be rationally afraid of making a mistake that could jeopardize your career. Many people get a bit uncomfortable before addressing a crowd. But if you’re scared to the point where you’re shaking, sweating, and unable to control your body, you’re almost giving yourself no chance for anything but an abysmal performance. Then your fear has become irrational.

Your overreaction to what you fear has become more dangerous than your fear itself.

Irrational Fears Can Be Worked With

If you are afraid of public speaking, look to the political arena and take heart. A startling amount of these people are apologizing constantly for the ridiculous things that come out of their mouths. And some don’t even apologize at all. It’s proof that you have to seriously screw up for the consequences that you’re scared of to actually come to fruition.

Let’s use the fear of snakes as another good example. Say you’re living in an area of the world with some venomous snakes. You see something slither through the grass in your vicinity, and you jump back, startled. Wary of the change in your situation, you quickly identify the snake. That’s a healthy, rational fear just doing its job to keep you safe. At this point, you’ve now identified that this is not one of the dangerous snakes.

Remaining afraid after this point means you’ve got an irrational fear of snakes. You’ve rationally worked out that there is no danger, and now you’re afraid of a harmless snake just because it’s a snake.

But remember, you can’t overcome your limiting, irrational fears unless you can truthfully identify them.

The Fear in My Life

I’ll share a few of my irrational fears, and I hope it’ll help you admit to some of your own if you haven’t felt able to yet.

I’m afraid of sharks. I know that the odds of being attacked by a shark are infinitesimal. I know. But I’m still afraid of sharks. Being afraid of sharks while I’m walking about on land? Irrational. A waste of my mental processing power. Being afraid of sharks while I’m swimming in the ocean? Still usually irrational, based on the odds of an attack. Being afraid of sharks while I’m swimming in an area known for its aggressive shark species – whilst BLEEDING!? Rational. I haven’t ever done that, but you understand what I’m getting at. Situation matters.

Another fear: crocodiles terrify me.

Much more so than sharks. I’m afraid of crocodiles to the point where I’ll replay crocodile attacks (or at least what I think they’d be like) in my head while I’m trying (and failing) to find some sleep. It’s terribly irrational. Especially since I live in New England, far from any crocodile populations. Even when traveling in Australia, I was afraid of crocodiles despite being in places too cold for them to live.

Conquer Fear the fear in your life Crocodile
“BUT WHAT IF ONE OF THEM HAS A MUTATION OR IS EXPLORING THE SOUTHERN COAST!?” – the irrational fear in the back of my mind.

The people that live with the reality of crocodiles in Australia know that they are limited to a geographical area based on temperature. They’re not afraid of crocodiles outside of this area because they know they won’t show up. But I’m over here like, I know they’re on this CONTINENT, so maybe one of them could make its way down here and get me. Irrational. When you’re swimming in Sydney, it’s irrational. But when you’re swimming in Darwin, GET OUT OF THE OCEAN THIS INSTANT YOU SUICIDAL MANIAC. 

I also have a fear of vulnerability.

Often I feel as though I need to appear metaphorically bulletproof. You’ll notice that the vast majority of people on social media post hyper-positive things – edited pictures to make themselves look great, highlight videos of their trips, and the like. Yet life is not 100% positive, despite what social media might have you believe. Shaped just like a wave (sound, ocean, or otherwise), life consists of crests and troughs, highs and lows.

Even just this – admitting that I’m not invulnerable here on this page – brings a tightness to my chest, another clear indication that it is something I must write. For I would very much like to publish the piece without these paragraphs, but I cannot do so without being a hypocrite to my own words.

I consider this fear of vulnerability irrational, because nobody is invulnerable and admitting that I too can be brought low by life’s occasional gut punches holds no genuine danger to me. To be vulnerable is to be normal.

You can see there is a fine line between a rational and an irrational fear, and sometimes it can be difficult to define where it is.

A Good Rule of Thumb

If your fear of a thing is more dangerous to you than the thing itself, it’s an irrational fear.

We’ve all got fears in our lives, both rational and irrational. It’s normal, acceptable, and nothing to be ashamed about. A fear being irrational doesn’t make it any less real – your body can still react physically to a picture of something you’re afraid of – even though you know that it’s not the real thing.

But irrational fears can be worked with. The choice is up to you. You can train yourself not to overreact to your irrational fears. It just takes a little bit of practice. And the first step is being honest about what is actually making you afraid.

Conquer Fear the fear in your life
Can we all at least be on the same page about crocodiles though? Please?

Conquer the Fear in Your Life

So write your fears down, and look at them on paper. They’re already a little bit less scary now that you’ve drawn them out from the dark corners of your mind. 

Identifying what it is that makes you afraid is the first step towards reclaiming your ownership over it.

Write them down, and move on to the next phase.

It’s time to conquer your fears.

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