FI confess! I have many fears: fear of death; fear of illness; fear of embarrassing myself; fear of letting people down; fear of heights; fear of spiders; fear of being stupid; fear of intimacy; fear of ending up alone; fear of the dark; fear of food poisoning; fear of ridicule; fear of failing….

They’re all irrational, and many are contradictory. That’s the nature of fear. It fucks with you. It makes you hesitate. It makes you timid. It compels you to make conservative choices — not great for a creative artist. (Not great for an entrepreneur, either.)

Fear is everywhere. It poisons our souls. It paralyzes us. It brings out the worst in us.

Fear corrupts our culture.

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
—Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

Fear poisons our politics.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address

Fear is something we try to laugh off.

Coward, n. One who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.
—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Facing fear can be daunting in itself, but is there any other way?

A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.
—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Húrin

I may be afraid to face my fears, but I’m even more afraid to not face my fear. I’m afraid of a life governed and controlled — even destroyed — by fear. This fear trumps all others.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
—Theodore Roosevelt, Strenuous Life

So how do you defeat fear? Maybe it’s through counting your blessings? Or focusing on what’s real and what’s only imagined? Maybe it’s through a mantra or litany?

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
—Frank Herbert, Dune: The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

I do a little bit of all of that. Yet defeating fear is not an accomplishment. It’s a practice. I work to defeat my fears every day.
My fear of heights, though, I’ll leave be. I can live with one.

0 thoughts on “F is for Fear”

  1. “Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
    ― C. JoyBell C.

  2. Nicely done. One of my favorite quotes (I first heard it in the “Princess Diaries” movies; not sure where it’s originally from) is this:
    “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the knowledge that something else is more important than fear.”
    Fear is of the Enemy, my mom always reminded me. The Bible has the phrase “do not fear” over 300 times…I think that’s extremely significant. Fear is something that is real, but it is not something I ever have to battle alone.
    Stopping by from the A to Z–I’m at 🙂

  3. “They’re all irrational…”
    Not all fears are irrational. It’s perfectly rational to be afraid of heights if you’re standing at the edge of a cliff, for example. Fear keeps us safe, though I totally agree with you that we can’t let them control our entire lives.

    1. That’s an interesting way of looking at it. I would only say that the fear part is irrational. We can rationally say, “That’s a long fall. I don’t want to fall or I will die,” but the irrational side has us with cold sweat, racing heart, trembling…perhaps for hours after, too. What do you think?

  4. Oh, how I love this post! It applies to each and every one of us. We all have fear, it is what we do with it that either enables or disables us.
    Here is a favourite quote from the movie, After Earth. Will Smith says,
    “Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”


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