Fear is mostly useless.
Not everywhere. And it wasn't for most of history. Fear helped us as a species survive. But today, in wealthy countries, you don't need to fear being an animal's main course.
Unless you're eye-to-eye with a tiger, fear is unproductive. It paralyzes you or leads to hasty, suboptimal decisions.
You fear losing a loved one, your job, or your health. That people laugh at your presentation, or leave the room. That your new boss doesn't honor your values. And that you'll never come fulfill your dreams.
A little fear has its benefits: increased awareness and focus. And if you're using fear this way, if you're taking action despite that fear, you're taking the opportunity to grow. But if you let that fear make you passive, to over-protect yourself or others, and to not take opportunities or work on your dreams, it's time to recognize that and let it go.
Don't let these fears have power over you. People laughing at your ambitions? Has nothing to do with you and shouldn't hinder you to go on. People finding your presentation boring? You're practicing, next time will be better. A loved one leaving you? Your fear won't change the outcome, and life will go on nonetheless.
Recognize when you're fearful or anxious, acknowledge that feeling, and let go. Unless, of course, you're running from a tiger.
“If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you can't solve it, then what is the use of worrying?” — Shantideva, 8th century C.E., Indian Buddhist sage
“For some, that might seem obvious: the question is how to beat the fears. For others, it’s not so self-evident: why are my financial or relationship or procrastination problems caused by fear?”
“In the third book of the Harry Potter series, Remus Lupin, Harry's professor, tells him, ‘What you fear most of all is—fear. Very wise, Harry.’ If he and Franklin Roosevelt, who said something similar before him, are to be believed, I'm a pretty darned wise person myself. Because I'm afraid of nothing more than passing on my fears to my daughter, who right now, at the age of nearly 2 years, seems to have hardly any fears at all. Is it really possible that most of our fears are learned?”
“While a 'fear-driven development' culture can create terrible products and programmers who can't work effectively, far too many companies do it anyway.”
Weekly Mindfulness Practice
This exercise seems inspired by stoicism:
The next time you catch yourself worrying about anything, find out if that thing is under your control.
If it's out of your control, let your worries go. Why worry if you can't change it?
If it's under your control, does worrying help you do better? Usually it doesn't, so you can also let go.
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Have a great week
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