Of all our feelings, fear is the most destructive, and at the same time one of the most primal and vital for our survival. Without fear, we would never have evolved into the intelligent, thinking beings we are today. We would have become extinct thousands of years ago.
Over the years, I have discovered that there is one thing, and only one thing that stands in the way of us achieving our potential, and that is fear. Every negative thing we feel has fear at its foundation. Whatever it is, anger, guilt, loneliness, sadness, inadequacy, stress…all are rooted in fear.
Have you ever wondered why we feel fear? Let’s look at what fear is all about. Back when we lived in caves, fear was an important component of our arsenal for survival, The purpose of fear has always been to warn us of the possibility of danger…it gives us an opportunity to take whatever action is necessary to survive when danger threatens—whether it is an attacking saber-toothed tiger outside our cave, or sharpening our senses for the impending attack of a futuristic cyborg in a computer game.
Fear has the effect of changing our body chemistry, boosting adrenalin to give us the focus and energy necessary to save ourselves. Interestingly, we feel more alive when we feel this kind of fear; this is why people flock to see horror movies, and probably why some people get hooked on extreme sports.
Not all fear serves us as well as it did our cave dwelling ancestors, though. Indeed, for most of our modern-day-lives, the original purpose of fear is superfluous—just like our appendix.
By and large, the things we fear never come to pass, and when they do, the effect is almost never as severe as we had anticipated. Statistics indicate that 94% of the things we worry about never happen. Imagine not generating all that negative energy worrying about things that could happen, but almost certainly won’t!
If we were to dig down to the root causes behind all the violence and conflicts in the world today, I am sure we would find fear right there in the number one spot; fear of loss, fear of ridicule, fear of rejection, fear of isolation, fear of commitment.
Most of the things that are worth worrying about – like nuclear war, terrorist attacks, bird flu, or whatever fearsome threat is currently being covered by the press…we have little or no control over – so what do we benefit by living in fear?
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t do anything about potential dangers or things like global warming – but we should keep it all in perspective. Most fear does not help us.
We all experience fear, even our heroes and people who seem impervious to it.
Fear (as we experience it today) is learned, and encouraged.