Fear is most often attributed to its most basic definitions. It is simply defined as the vital response to physical or emotional danger. It is what prevents from jumping off of a cliff or from playing tag with rattlesnakes. Fear is the first line of defense against the potentially harmful. Although we typically hold fear in a negative light, we welcome it and we rely on it. Without fear there is little stopping us from making life-or-death decisions. This general idea becomes the basis for every interaction with fear that we encounter.
Fear often stems from our experiences, and just as commonly, the experiences of others. Most people live their whole lives without being bitten by a spider, but they know that it is still in the realm of the possibility, which is why arachnophobia is such a popular fear. Our fears are typically over-exaggerated versions of their true selves. Not all spiders are harmful, but we often treat them as such because if we didn’t then we would have to admit to ourselves that we are distorting the fear. We would rather lie to ourselves than attempt to understand the truth. Fear is treated as a novelty, it is trait that we use to define ourselves and prove that we are unique.
In the world of progress, fear is our greatest enemy. When we are met with an obstacle, fear is what prevents us from facing it. We are so desperate for change but we are so afraid of the consequences that we fail to ever actually follow through. The only way to grow is to overcome our fear, and the only way to do that is to attempt to understand why that fear is there.
We can divide fear into two conclusive categories; rational and irrational. Rational fears prevent us from making definitively harmful decisions. This includes instances such as swimming in crocodile infested waters, running into a burning house, or following a murderous clown into the sewers. These fears are logical and are the reason that fear exists, they keep us safe from true danger. This is not about those fears.
Irrational fears prevent us from making progress. Examples of these fears are not talking to that girl at the bar, not going to the gym because you are small, or refusing to put your art out there because of what people may think. It is here that fear betrays us and prevents us from moving forward. Irrational fear usually contains little to no consequence, but overcoming it requires a moment of vulnerability, a character trait that we do not take lightly.
Fear exists only in our mind, but the responses that it creates in your body and mind are real. Fear exists only in the future, it is a precursor for things to come. Fear is an indicator of a lack of knowledge. We are not afraid of what we already know because we understand it, and the results that will come from it. A lack of understanding of the unknown is what sparks fear.
Fear is neither good nor bad, but it is entirely based on a person’s reaction to it. If we hold onto our fears then we will never grow; as a person, as a nation, or as a world. We can spend our whole lives running from what scares us, or we can opt for a moment of courage, and face our fears head on. Facing our fears will never be defined as an easy or a simple task, but doing so will incite the most powerful and influential forms of change.
Fear is the problem, you are the solution.