We shouldn’t fear fear but we should respect it

You’ve probably  heard the expression “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” or some variation of it.  An interesting thing to think about for sure.  But I think the whole quote is far superior.

Here’s what the quote actually is “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance”  

I think this is a great quote, but not a perfect one.  My big issue with it is that it ignores the benefit of fear.  That is why I think it’s better to say that fear is not something to be feared but to be respected.  For, if it wasn’t for fear, you likely would not be here.  Let me explain.

A long time ago(but not in a galaxy far, far away) our ancestors were hunters.  It’s not hard to understand why someone like that needed fear.  If you didn’t listen to your fears about being killed and eaten by a lion, then you are far more likely to make decisions that would increase your chances of that happening.  

A healthy respect for rational fears will help you mitigate risk when seeking a goal.  This helps you to make better decisions.  Let’s use a simple example.  We all have a natural fear of heights.  That’s because we know that if we were to fall, we would die.  Perfectly rational. 

But what if you need to do something from a high location? Well we know what our fear is and we know it’s a perfectly rational fear of falling so what do we need to do?  We need to find a way to prevent that from happening.  So, let’s say you’re a cell tower repairman.  You put on a safety harness to prevent you from falling so you can get your job done.

You’re mitigating the risk, or ideally, eliminating it altogether.  This is exactly what fear is there for.  If it is used correctly.  If it’s not, your fear can cripple you; keep you from moving forward.  This is what FDR was talking about.  It was a warning to the American people to not let their fear keep them from taking chances which could show the way to get out of the depression.  

Of course, as with most things, this is, as the expression goes, “easier said than done”.  Overcoming your fears is not an easy thing to do.  I fail to do it just like everybody else.  I’m writing this for myself as much as anyone else.  But hey, I have faith that it can be done and so I want to share that with you, my readers.  Let us conquer our fears and progress together.

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