What is it like to be fearless? What is the fear of fear itself, actually?
Is it some unwarranted and unsubstantiated anxiety that we should not pay any attention to; or perhaps we should take our fears more seriously since there might be a real danger lurking in them? Fear advice varies widely. For some people, it’s a matter of life and death says Paul Haarman. For others, fear is one of those unpleasant non-optional side effects that come with the package deal of being alive. Fear is an integral part of our fight or flight response system – it’s supposed to be for our own good, right?
But let’s not get carried away here… As Dr Seuss would say:
“Those who mind don’t matter,
And those who matter don’t mind.”
It really doesn’t matter if you are forever stuck in your fears, since there’s no way to ever overcome them anyway! Those who matter will still love you anyway. And what about the rest of us? What can we do to turn things around and live rich meaningful lives instead of spending all of our time worrying about what could happen tomorrow?
1. What is fear good for?
The problem with fear (and all emotions, really) is that they are there to help us survive in the best way possible, but not necessarily make us happy. Fear is like a smoke alarm – it will go off if there’s real danger around, but it might also go off when there’s nothing much to worry about says Paul Haarman. That’s why people always tell you that you should never let your fears dictate your life or stop you from doing whatever you want to do! It’s true that getting rid of all fears would probably leave us paralyzed and incapable of making any decisions at all – so this would be an extremely bad thing. Fear can be debilitating and painful, but it’s also a great and powerful protector and lifesaver.
2. Don’t fear your fear!
The common piece of advice to deal with your fears is: “Just don’t let them bother you!” This sounds like excellent advice indeed – so why does everyone still worry about everything? The problem here is that we keep expecting ourselves to feel something other than what we actually feel at the moment. We associate certain feelings (e.g. worrying) with not being happy or healthy; and then we try really hard not to feel those feeling because they are unpleasant and frightening for us. It makes perfect sense if you think about it – just don’t worry! Just don’t have any fears! Who could possibly object to this logically impeccable advice? Well, I can. Because there’s nothing logically wrong with worrying or being afraid – the only problem is the negative association that we have created between fear and happiness in our minds says Paul Haarman.
3. Focus on self-improvement instead of self-esteem
When you are scared to do something, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything actually bad about what you are scared of doing! Sure, your fear might be totally justified if someone tries to kill you every time they see you – but more often than not, fears exist for no good reason at all. The whole point here is that you simply don’t know what will happen next. Because most big life decisions cannot be predict even by the best decision-makers with the best intentions in the world. The future will always be an unknown no matter how much you plan ahead; and this is why fear comes around, to warn us about potential dangers lurking in the dark places of our minds.
But what if your fears are not warnings at all? What if they are just plain false alarms – totally unjustifiable reactions to harmless everyday situations? Maybe nothing bad will happen when you do something scary! Then again, maybe it will – but what if it doesn’t? You can either choose to believe that there’s no point in doing anything because everything that could go wrong will go wrong instead, or you can try your luck and see for yourself what happens next. Fearful people rarely regret something that they have done – but they always end up regretting things that they did not dare to do.
4. Fear is a completely natural reaction!
Why am I going on and on about this? Because letting your fears control your life is a very real tendency of the human mind – and it’s something that most people need to work on every day during their entire existence explains Paul Haarman. There are very few lucky individuals who have been born without any fear at all, so if you think you might be one of them: stop feeling sorry for yourself right now because this is definitely not the case! The problem here is not trying too hard to get rid of fears – it’s trying too hard to never have them in the first place.
If you are afraid, you are not alone. Everyone gets scared at times – but the only difference between strong people and cowards is that the former do whatever they have to do in spite of being afraid! So if your goal is to join the ranks of the brave while still enjoying a relaxing life without too much anxiety.