Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.


On Fear

I’ve been mucking about with drafts of this post, about the idea of fear, for four months now. (That’s ironic. You’ll see why.) I’ve been picking up on different people’s concepts of fear, what there is to be afraid of, what you can do about it.

Possibly it’s a dark topic, but to me, it’s more like a challenge.

My imagination is much more terrible than reality, and we are all much worse on ourselves than anybody else would be. So we bring it on ourselves, don’t we? And the solution is figuring out how to do that to yourself less.

Miss Britt ‘s post – searingly honest and thought-provoking, as always – was my tipping point. (I guess I’d been afraid!) She talks about how terrible the fear of failure is when you’re screwing up the courage to do something differently.

Neil Force says that procrastination, a demon I am constantly trying to squash (There’s the irony), is really just fear – a phobia, really. You get so worked up and afraid that you just can’t move.

JK Rowling says that you need to let children feel some fear so they can learn that it can be mastered. I think this is the flip side – useful fear. Fear that takes you to that adrenaline place and lets you prove to yourself that you’ll come back out, and come out okay.

Tim Ferriss talks with Zen Habits about fear in terms of phobias and guilt. When you’re afraid, either you obsess and force, or you avoid and fear. He says the way to solve it is to just take a break. Remember that one one thing is the sum of your identity. Expect yourself to have weaknesses and lows. And don’t feel guilty if you have to go to a Plan B because Plan A is too scary – you’re just beating it differently.

So I guess what I’ve learned from this is that relaxing into fear is the key to learning how to ride the wave instead of being drowned by it. Which is a lovely Matthew McConaughey-esque surfer metaphor, but, obvs, easier to preach than to practice.

Here’s to doing what scares you. Whatever that is today.


[…] I’ve posted about fear before, and the challenge of it. […]

Travis Prinzi

H.P. Lovecraft called fear the “oldest and strongest” human emotion, and what’s why fear will always play a role in the stories we tell.

Maurice Sendak, when asked about his scary monsters in Where the Wild Things Are, said that the worst thing a kid could experience is to fear something in their own nightmare and find no parallel for it in the real world – which is why stories with scary monsters are so important. They’re controlled environments for learning to deal with and overcome fear.

This is what J.K. Rowling is getting at, and what you’re getting at in this post, with the good side of fear, and it has a lot to do with how kids – and later, how adults – learn to cope with it.

On the flip side, some fears are good things, because they lead to survival. You should fear that lion; he’ll eat you if you try to pet him.

Sarah Morgan

@Britt – I like that.

@Greg – Pushing through the fear seems to always be worth it. The worst bit is the moment before you begin.

@Steve – I totally agree. Both about the mulling, and about the Shaq.

Fear must be the topic du jour – Leo just posted thison Zen Habits.

Steve Woodruff

Mulling on a fear overmuch tends to inflate the thing feared. Best to just chuckle at it, and take it on. Usually whatever is feared is much smaller than you’ve led yourself to think. Unless it’s Shaq. He’s bigger.

Greg Rust

Sarah, I enjoyed this post. Considering the events of today’s environment, I am sure people are experiencing fears they never thought they would face. Granted, there is a lot we can control as you mention, but so much is out of our control. When I decided to do triathlon, I didn’t know how to swim. So I took swimming lessons to learn but that training didn’t prepare me for the mental fear of swimming 2.4 miles in the ocean,,,the ocean!! Like you pointed out, I was determined to conquer the fear I had imagined. But in doing so, I realized yet another life lesson. That is, I will limit my personal growth by not embracing this challenge and seeing what comes out the other side.

Miss Britt

My mother’s favorite metaphor for this is standing in the ocean. You can fight against the waves and where yourself out. Or you can stand there and let it wash over you until they pass.

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