Dealing with fear

January 8, 2010

I was inspired to write this when I received a query from Eileen Flanagan about how we cope with fear.  Do look at  her blog,  which is about “Spreading Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom”.

How do I deal with fear?

First, I own it.  As an articulate, well educated, and generally successful person, I might tell myself that I shouldn’t be afraid.  No matter.  The truth is that I am.  I feel fear when a nurse wants to draw a bit of my blood for testing, when I’m about to go down an intermediate ski trail, when I’m about to photograph a new dance piece that I’ve not yet seen.  I’m feeling fear right now, writing an article about a topic I’ve never addressed in print.

Then I ask myself, fear of what? For the examples it might be fear of the momentary pain as a needle is inserted, fear of being out of control on the ski slope, fear of having to create a great image.

Next, I refine that question, to, If my worst fear came true, what would happen? I might feal pain, or hurt myself on the ski slope, or not be able to write an interesting and informative article.

Some fear help protect us from real dangers.  So, I’ll proceed to ask whether this fear is playing such a role.  “Is this fear protecting me from real danger?” Clearly, having a shot of pain, or a dull and uninteresting article, is not dangerous while going down a trail for which I’m not prepared may be.

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Do I need to say anything more?  Isn’t this aphorism enough?  I thought so.

But I posted this aphorism on Facebook a while ago, and received the following query:

I’m Jewish, so of course I am now sitting here worrying about what if I won’t be able to worry later? Will I have to do all my worrying now just in case? I’m worried!
Can any of you help him out?